Review: Lexus LS (2012 – 2018)

Rating:

Looks good for a large car with sharp exterior styling. Refined and spacious interior. Incredibly refined. Extremely reliable.

2 stars for 4.6V8; 5 stars for hybrid. Chauffeur car to drive. Poor fuel economy. High list prices. No diesel option.

Recently Added To This Review

31 July 2012 Lexus revealed its new LS model

Comprising the LS 460, LS 600h and, for the first time in its history, an F Sport version of its flagship model. The new LS continues Lexus’s development of its model line-up, following on from... Read more

Lexus LS (2012 – 2018): At A Glance

The LS is the halo model of the Lexus range, combining sharp styling with a high quality limo-like interior. As a result, the LS is an opulent passenger experience, with a luxurious cabin bolstered by impressive refinement.

Sadly, the LS 4.6V8 falls short, with an unrewarding drive and poor fuel economy. It also carries a huge price tag, which makes it poor value compared to its German rivals.

The LS range consists of two models - the LS460 and the hybrid LS600h. Both are packed with high tech kit, including four-zone climate control, air conditioned seats and automatic rear window sun shades. There's also a huge 12.3-inch screen integrated into the dashboard, along with a DVD player and 19-speaker sound system.

Spanning more than five metres in length, the LS is huge inside, which makes it well suited for limousine duties. The deeply cushioned leather seats are comfortable and the LS has excellent sound proofing, which makes the cabin a relaxing place to be.

However, compared to the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the trim looks little dated while some of the buttons and switches feel like they have been lifted from a 1980s TV set. Against thatyou ahve to set the far better reliability of the Japanese car compared to the Germans. Leus consstently come top of the JD Power ratings.

The entry level LS460 is powered by a 4.6-litre V8 petrol engine, with 387PS, which is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The V8 is quick and will launch the two tonne car from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. The LS460 is also available in F Sport trim, which lowers the ride height, uprates the brakes and adds paddle shifts along with a limited slip differential to improve traction in corners.

The petrol-hybrid LS600h gets four-wheel drive as standard, with a 5.0-litre V8 engine delivering 445PS. For city driving, the hybrid is impressive, with the electric motor pushing the LS along with a quiet hum. Unfortunately, fuel economy for both models is poor, with the LS460 returning a claimed 26.4mpg and the hybrid LS600h offering a meagre 32.8mpg.

Things don't improve on the road and the LS feels numb and cumbersome, while the steering lacks any real sense of engagement. The suspension also has a tendency to roll and pitch under heavy loads, although things improve on the motorway, which mean the LS is an accomplished high speed cruiser. 

It's a chauffeur car, not a sports car. Best experienced from the back seat.

What does a Lexus LS (2012 – 2018) cost?

Contract hire from £998.48 per month
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Lexus LS (2012 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 5090–5210 mm
Width -
Height 1455–1480 mm
Wheelbase 2970–3090 mm

Full specifications

The LS is a big car, measuring over five meters in length. As a result it has a cavernous interior and both the LS460 and the hybrid LS600h will carry five adults, although the rear centre seat is a little uncomfortable, due to the raised floor. However, for the most part, the seats are what you’d expect from a luxurious limousine, with deep, plush leather and excellent support for the lower back. 

Finding a decent driving position is easy enough, thanks to the comfortable and electronically adjustable driver’s seat. The driver also gets a clear view of the road and the wing mirrors give plenty of side visions.

The dashboard is dominated by a wide 12.3-inch screen, which is situated in the centre, just beneath the windscreen. The display is clear and illustrates all of the car’s media, climate control and navigation settings.

The infotainment system is easy enough to use, but lacks the finesse of those employed by Audi and Mercedes-Benz. We found the controller to be fiddly to use and annoying after a while, due to the fact it would skip along and miss our intended channel choice. We also disliked the switchgear, with some of the buttons and dials feeling like they’ve been lifted off an old 1980s TV set.

The LS does get an impressive amount of technological kit, with a DVD player, automatic rear window sun shades and dynamic lighting. Rear passengers can also control the 19 speaker audio system via a set of dials on the large centre arm rest, which also operate the powered seats and sun blinds. The LS600h also gets a nine-inch monitor in the back, along with reclining shiatsu massage seats.

Both the LS460 and the LS600h are designed to pamper its passengers and as a result both are spacious and comfortable in the back. Rear passengers get plenty of head and leg room, although the LS600h sits on a longer wheelbase, which gives it slightly more space in the back.

Lexus claims the LS is one of the quietest cars in the world and there is some merit in this bold statement, with the minimal road or engine noise. In fact, at low speeds, the LS600h is almost silent and ideal when sitting in traffic. But on challenging B roads, the LS struggles as it waddles around tight bends and crashes over pot holes. However, the LS improves on the motorway, with the air suspension soaking up the bumps and minimal exterior noise.

Boot space is decent in the LS460, with 560 litres, while the fitment of the hybrid system restricts the LS600h to just 420 litres. We also found that the rear seats in the LS600h could not be flattened, due to the proximity of the batteries. 

Standard equipment:

LS460 has 18-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint, Five driving modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, Sports Plus and Snow, air suspension, automatic rear window sun shades, rain sensing wipers cruise control, dynamic Illumination System, front seats 10-way electrically adjustable with memory, electric lumbar support (driver: 4-way, passenger: 2-way), 12.3-inch display monitor with full map navigation, 19-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround system, with DVD player, USB, AUX, and Bluetooth, DAB, rear parking camera, steering wheel mounted controls for audio, phone, voice command and a glass sunroof.

LS600h adds 19-inch alloy wheels, blind spot monitor, lane keep assist, hybrid drive mode select – EV, ECO, Normal, SPORT S and SPORT S+, and rear seat entertainment via 9-inch colour monitor located in centre console. 

Child seats that fit a Lexus LS (2012 – 2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Lexus LS (2012 – 2018) like to drive?

The Lexus LS is offered with two powerful engines, but both are thirsty on fuel and high on emissions. The petrol-hybrid LS600h is the better of the two, with four-wheel drive linked to a 5.0-litre V8 engine, delivering 445PS.

Well suited to city driving, the hybrid is almost silent at low speeds, with the electric motor powering the LS up to 20mph. There's also plenty of acceleration, thanks to 520Nm of torque from 4000rpm. Head onto the motorway and the quiet and refined drive continues, with air suspension soaking up the bumps. However, the CVT transmissions can be vocal under hard acceleration and the brakes have a tendency to be rather sharp, which makes smooth braking rather difficult.

The LS460 is powered by a 4.6-litre V8 petrol engine with 387PS that's linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Like the hybrid, the V8 is quick and has 493Nm or torque from 4100rpm. Although the V8 lacks the silent smoothness of the hybrid at lower speeds, it does feel accomplished, with low engine noise and no CVT whine. But it too suffers from biting brakes. 

The LS460 can be given a sporty makeover with the F Sport trim, which lowers the ride height, uprates the brakes and adds paddle shifts along with a limited slip differential to improve traction in corners.

The hybrid and petrol engines will cover 0-62mph in a respective 6.1 or 5.7 seconds before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. That's not bad for a car that's over five meters long and weighs more than two tonnes, but the LS does struggle to hide its large dimensions, especially in the corners.

Not only is the Lexus cumbersome in tight bends, but the overpowered steering makes it difficult to get any sort of connection with the wheels or the road. As a result, the LS feels numb and uninspiring, which makes it a disappointing car to drive. The air suspension also has a tendency to roll and pitch under heavy loads and lower speeds, which can be rather unpleasant for your passengers.

The LS isn't cheap to run either, with both engines rating poorly for emissions and fuel economy. The LS460 offers a claimed 26.4mpg while the hybrid LS600h provides a meagre 32.8mpg. Emissions are also high and the LS460 coughs out a hefty 249g/km of CO2 while the hybrid emits a more respectable 199g/km.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
460 26 mpg 5.7 s 249 g/km
600h 33 mpg 6.3 s 199 g/km

Real MPG average for a Lexus LS (2012 – 2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

90%

Real MPG

22–26 mpg

MPGs submitted

4

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Lexus LS (2012 – 2018)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Is it worth getting a comprehensive vehicle check on a used luxury hybrid?

I recently purchased a 2008 Lexus LS600h from a Lexus dealer with a 12 month warranty. Being a non mechanical person thought it would be worth a comprehensive check throughout while the vehicle is still under warranty including underbody and A to Z. I would appreciate your advice.
Yes, because this is an expensive car, but don't expect huge expertise of LS600h models from the sort of people who do mechanical checks because there simply aren't many LS600h models around. You could use RAC Vehicle inspections, DEKRA (via the AA), or Scotia Vehicle Inspections.
Answered by Honest John
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