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Lexus is practically synonymous with luxury, and this is perhaps best exemplified in its flagship LS sedan. The company’s latest hybrid model, the 2020 Lexus LS 500h, ranks highly among the hierarchy of alt-fuel
competitors. European rivals such as the BMW 740e PHEV and the Mercedes Benz 560e may take the crown when it comes to power, but legendary
Lexus refinement and solid performance make this prestige sedan stand out.

Features, Pricing, and Design

The 2020 LS 500h shares a
platform with the high-performance LC coupe and comes with either
rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. A 3.5-liter V6 engine and two
electric motors churn out 354 horsepower through Lexus’ Multi-Stage Hybrid system
that pairs a continuously variable automatic transmission with a conventional
four-speed transmission. The hybrid system uses a 264-kW lithium-ion battery to help the vehicle deliver 25mpg city/33mpg highway and a 600-plus mile range on
a full tank of gas.

The base price for the RWD version is $80,010; the AWD
option increases the sticker to $83,230. Standard exterior features include 19-inch
alloy wheels, triple-beam LED headlamps, LED taillamps, LED daytime running
lights, a power moonroof, hands-free trunk access, rain-sensing wipers and
de-icers, and headlamp washers.

Lexus is lavish with interior standard
features that include 16-way adjustable leather-covered heated or ventilated
seats, wood trim, a heated leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters,
push-button start, power-adjustable front headrests, a rear sunshade, and dual-zone
climate control.

Standard active safety features include
front and rear parking sensors with automatic braking, pre-collision warning
and pedestrian detection, lane centering and departure alert with steering
assist, road sign assist, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, auto
high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

A 12-speaker audio system comes with
AM/FM HD Radio, a single-disc CD/MP3/WMA player, and a three-month SiriusXM satellite
radio trial. Music can also be played via Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay, or
from a device connected to a USB port. Hands-free phone is available
through Bluetooth or CarPlay, and remote services can be accessed via Amazon Alexa
compatibility.

Audio and connectivity features
are accessed through a 12.3-inch infotainment display with a customizable home
screen divided into two sections. In addition to Apple CarPlay’s native and
third-party apps, Lexus’ proprietary Enform system’s App Suite 2.0 includes popular
streaming and local search services.

Enform also offers Wi-Fi with a complimentary
4GB/one-year trial, remote services such as door lock/unlock and vehicle status
via Enform app, and a one-year subscription to Lexus’ concierge destination assist
system. Owners also get a three-year subscription to the Enform Dynamic
Navigation system that come with cloud-based map updates and can offer
alternate routes based on conditions ahead and points of interest based on location
and relevance.

Our test car had the pricey $12,270 Luxury Package that provides
28-way power-adjustable front seats with multifunction massage and cushion
extenders, remote adjustment for the passenger seat, and perforated semi-aniline
leather interior trim. The package also provides rear passengers with their own
18-way power-reclining heated seats with memory, four-zone climate control,
infrared sensors, an air purifier, power side window sunshades, a semi-aniline
leather-trimmed rear console with a 7-inch touch-screen controller, and rear seat
knee airbags. 

In addition to the Luxury
package, our tester also had the $3,000 Lexus Safety System+ A package that adds
automatic emergency braking and steering assist, front cross-traffic alert, and
lane-change assist for adaptive cruise control.

Individual high-dollar add-ons on
our test car included $1,200 for a 24-inch heads-up display, $1,500 for adaptive
variable air suspension, $1,200 for 20-inch alloy wheels, and $1,940 for a Mark
Levinson 23-speaker/2,400-watt surround sound audio system. Other options include $300
for adaptive headlights, $800 for a panoramic-view monitor, $800 for premium
wood trim, $410 for a heated and leather-trimmed steering wheel, $450 for
illuminated door sills, $90 for door-edge film, and $380 for a combination cargo
net and mat, wheel locks, and rear-bumper application. With a delivery,
processing, and handling fee of $1,025, the final sticker came to a formidable $108,525.

While the 500h is chock-full of luxury extras, Lexus charges a lot for driver assists like automatic emergency braking that come standard on much less expensive cars and should be included in a luxury vehicle at this price.

As for styling, Lexus has moved on from its staid box design to bolder exteriors. This starts with the LS 500h’s massive
spindle grille and ends with a pair of tailpipes with chrome surrounds standard
on all models, with subtle but stylish embellishments in between. The interior
is filled with flowing lines, real wood trim, tastefully pleated door panel
fabric, and rich leather upholstery, with plenty of passenger space.

2020 Lexus LS 500h infotainment system

Interface and
Connectivity

The 12.3-inch infotainment screen here is one of the largest available,
with key functions easily accessible. That said, other controls are
buried behind the home menu, and aligning your finger on the touchpad to the options on the screen can be challenging. 

Lexus’ Enform App Suite 2.0 provides
a collection of popular mobile applications including Waze, IHeart Radio,
LiveXlive, NPR One, and Yelp, which use a companion Enform app and your connected smartphone. Apple native and third-party apps are provided via CarPlay, but for now Android Auto users are still reliant on the Enform
app. A Lexus+Alexa app links Amazon’s voice-activated Alexa for smart home services like
lighting, security systems, and thermostats.

Lexus Enform Remote is free for the first year of ownership and links with a smartphone or smartwatch to
find your vehicle’s location, start the engine and set climate control, lock
and unlock doors, and check the fuel level and status of the windows. If
another driver is behind the wheel, you can receive alerts if a speed or mile
limit is exceeded.

The Mark Levinson premium audio system includes four speakers
in the ceiling to create what Lexus claims is the largest soundstage in the
industry. While a pricey add-on, it pairs well with the 500h’s virtually silent cabin and cushy massage
seats.

2020 Lexus LS 500h body

Performance

The 500h is pure
pleasure to drive. While competitors may outperform it in
categories such as driving dynamics, Lexus’ flagship hybrid sedan delivers a ride that is quiet and smooth, with
plenty of power. 

Of the four drive
modes, Normal is the most balanced and feels akin to the 500’s non-hybrid
cousin. Eco mode allows the car to travel on electrons for a short
distance. Comfort mode is great for driving the family. Sport is responsive but not class-defining, while Sport+ mode provides the best option
to satisfy drivers who want to get more aggressive.

Our test vehicle included
the $1,500 adaptive air suspension, which made for a floaty ride. The only
occasional hiccup was when the unique double tranny seemed off when shifting.

Conclusions

While the 2020 Lexus LS 500h doesn’t provide any noteworthy changes from its 2018 introduction, it remains a luxury hybrid sedan we highly recommend. And with some small tweaks, like the addition of Android Auto and a better way to control the infotainment system, we can see future models easily being worthy of our Editors’ Choice award. For now, if you’ve got the money to spend, the 2020 model is certainly a top pick.

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