The 2019 Lexus LS 500 h combines a bold exterior with a plush stylish interior and a hybrid engine to deliver a large, comfortable cruising car that’s also pretty efficient for the size.
Going toe-to-toe with the BMW 745e and Mercedes Benz S560e, Lexus skips the plug-in and instead relies on a multistage hybrid engine. I’m not as upset about the lack of a V8 as I was when I reviewed the LS 500 F Sport, and the hybrid version of this luxury sedan makes more sense.
Style & Substance
While not as eye-catching as the LC 500, the LS 500h still strikes a magnificent pose. Upfront is the Lexus spindle grille that really sets the stage for the flowing angles and beautiful lines that set this sedan apart. I’m a huge fan of the grille and the way it plays with the jagged headlight design is something I could stare at all day.
Once you open the doors, you’re in for a treat with luxurious materials, accent stitching and a piano wire flowing design that runs from the driver side to the passenger. The driver and passenger seats are very comfortable and offer an incredible amount of adjustments and massage with the interior upgrade package on my loaner. Paired with the heated and cooled front seats, These are a much welcome feature and I definitely relied on the massage and cooling to help give me an edge while heading to a golf outing with YouTube creators.
Leather and soft-touch materials are everywhere you’ll touch when driving or riding in the car, and be prepared for passengers to reach up and touch the ceiling which is covered in soft, inviting material. Everyone in the LS 500h has plenty of space to stretch out in the front and back seat where there is a lot of room.
The trunk is massive, easily fitting two sets of golf clubs for an outing, and it could have handled a foursome if I needed it to.
Imperfect Tech, Impeccable Sound
The Lexus Enform system is still frustrating to use while driving due to the trackpad style controls. Even a joystick-style control like we see on some Lexus models would be a massive improvement here. The 12.3-inch screen looks great and you can separate it into two sections so that you can see the map and see the audio information. This year we also get Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa support, but Android Auto is nowhere to be found. CarPlay on iOS 13 looks great on the wide-screen and is usable even with the touchpad. Additionally, you get built-in navigation and a WiFi hotspot.
The standard speaker system is a 12-speaker setup, but I tested the LS 500h with the 23 speaker Mark Levinson sound system that is sublime. This is one of the best car stereo systems you can get from the factory and it’s definitely worth the $1,940 price. It really shines when listening to music, but it’s also great for taking phone calls.
Safety & Convenience
There is a large head-up display for the driver that is easy to see and shows a range of important information. I would like to see an option to move the information side-to-side instead of just up and down. Too often the information was cut off as I move my head towards the interior of the car.
Driver safety and convenience features include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic, lane departure warning, and lane trace assist and auto high beams. I love the cornering headlights, which light up the side of the road in the direction you are turning, as this makes night driving much safer. The model I tested came with the Safety System+, which adds in forward collision warning with automatic braking, pedestrian detection, and lane change assist.
Cruising in Comfort
The LS 500 h combines a multi-stage Hybrid system with a V6 under the hood. It’s not a throaty, quick V8 like the LC 500, but it fits this incarnation of the LS nicely. There’s plenty of power for hauling around friends and hitting the road. Lexus says the LS 500h can hit 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. If you gently accelerate, you can go in a fully electric drive mode, but once you add speed or want to accelerate quickly, it’s going to switch over to the gas engine. The switch is subtle and it’s not something that you’ll notice other than the change in sound.
I tested the all-wheel-drive model, which is a $3,220 upgrade over the standard rear-wheel-drive model. The car handles nicely with a good steering feel that is responsive but light enough to match the comfort focus of this sedan. When equipped with the optional Air Suspension as this model was, the LS 500 shrugs off potholes and road imperfections like an NFL running back ditches tackles.
The LS 500 h isn’t as fun to drive in Normal mode, where acceleration is slow and the transmission isn’t quick to shift. In Sport and Sport+ things improve and the drive livens up, but this is still a sedan focused on comfort. If you go in looking for a luxury sports sedan you’ll come away wanting more, but if you are looking for a comfortable, quiet ride that still offers a little fun this is a good option.
The LS 500 h is rated for 26 mpg combined, with 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. That’s 5 miles per gallon more in the city than the V6 only model. One big plus is that the regenerative braking is spot on, with none of the grabby characteristics that some hybrids bring.