2019 Lexus LS 500h Review: A Hybrid of The Highest Order

overall impression
Quiet & luxurious cabin.
Solid engine performance.
Infotainment touchpad is difiicult.
Ride Quality
World-Class Interior
Infotainment Touchpad
Options Add Up Quickly

If you think Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have the market on the full-size luxury segment, Lexus is making a bold statement with the LS 500. When Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said he wanted to change the Lexus culture, he wasn’t kidding. The 2019 Lexus LS 500h says Europe doesn’t have a lock on world-class luxury and performance any longer.

This week, we drove the 2019 Lexus LS 500 with hybrid technology.

What’s New For 2019

The LS 500h offers more connectivity and safety tech, plus a handful of new styling options. Apple CarPlay is finally available for iPhone users, although Android Auto is still not available. Amazon Alexa allows the virtual assistant to start the LS, lock and unlock its doors, and check its fuel level.

Features & Options: Comfort & Safety 

The 2019 Lexus LS 500h ($82,930) comes standard with an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, a sunroof, hands-free trunk, power-closing doors, leather upholstery, and 16-way power-adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats. Other treatments include a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and a power rear sunshade.

Technology features include a 12.3-inch central display, navigation, a trackpad-style interface, Wi-Fi hotspot, Lexus Enform services, Bluetooth, and a 12-speaker audio system. Standard driver aids include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and automatic wipers.

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The 2019 Lexus LS 500h has a gorgeous interior, and the tech features set it apart. However, not everything is user-friendly. It took awhile to get used to the infotainment touchpad.

Extra Packages & Armrest Controllers

The Luxury package ($12,250) adds a 28-way adjustable passenger seat, 18-way adjustable and reclining rear seats, four-zone climate control, power rear side sunshades, and rear-seat knee airbags. An armrest-mounted touchscreen controls the climate and seat functions. 

The Safety System ($3,000) adds adaptive cruise and automatic steering that can detect and “trace” the path of the vehicle in front. Other individual options include an adaptive air suspension, panoramic sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, upgraded wood trim, a 24-inch heads-up display, and a premium 23-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.

Total MSRP including destination: $107,950. By comparison, the 2019 Lexus LS 500 (non-hybrid) starts at $75,300 for a front-wheel drive model; $78,520 for all-wheel drive. 

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Touchpad controller for the rear passengers.

Interior Highlights: Comfortable & Sleek

Stepping inside the 500h reveals a roomy, luxurious, and comfortable place to spend time. We played with the 28-way power-adjustable seats for 20 minutes, getting them set just right for our week-long drive. The 2019 Lexus LS 500h is stretched with a longer wheelbase, giving passengers extra legroom. Four passengers will fit comfortably for long distances even with the raked roofline, which makes the sedan look smaller than it is.

Extravagance abounds in the cabin, from the dark hardwoods and aluminum trim on the dash, to the ambient lighting and quilted seat fabric. The door panels even feature curved stitching, finished with free-floating door handles and armrests. The large central display screen is beautiful and we think the optional Mark Levinson premium sound system is worth the cost.

In the back, rear passengers will need to duck to get in, but the reclining seats helped our guests sink in and enjoy the ride. The rear seats are perfect for two adults or three kids. We noticed the air suspension raising the car more than an inch making for easier entry/exit.

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Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The 2019 Lexus LS 500h is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine connected to a pair of electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. Total system horsepower is 354 (our tester also came with optional all-wheel drive). The system is based on the electronically-controlled, planetary continuously variable transmission of the Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is coupled to an all-new four-speed automatic gear set at the output stage.

The big sedan is rated at 23/31 city/highway and 28 mpg combined. The 500h returns just five mpg more combined than its standard gasoline-powered counterpart, but costs several thousand dollars more. However, the extra torque makes it fun to drive which is why we would still favor the hybrid option.  

Driving Dynamics: Not Your Typical Hybrid 

The best reason to choose the hybrid is for the instant power you feel from the dual electric motors. And with its ultra-quiet cabin, cushy ride, and advanced safety tech, the 2019 Lexus LS 500h proves that the Germans aren’t the only ones who can build world-class luxury machines.

From the driver’s seat, the 2019 Lexus LS 500h feels like a much smaller sports car. We put the pedal down and the V6, with the electric motors to assist, delivered abundant and smooth power.

The LS 500h never left us wanting as we pushed it hard in the higher altitude west of Denver. We tossed the big sedan around tight mountain corners, experiencing little (if any) body lean with the adaptive variable air suspension. On the open road, the air suspension’s ride is buttery-smooth and road noise is kept to a minimum inside the comfy cabin. Road manners are excellent, overall, with the adaptive setup. It was easy maneuvering in the city as we commuted around Denver this week.

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Conclusion: No Small Doses Here 

The ride and the quiet interior will easily pamper drivers and passengers. The 2019 Lexus LS 500h delivers a luxury experience that rivals all European automakers. The LS 500h offers up extra comfort, plenty of storage space, the latest safety equipment, and a sizable helping of technology and performance.

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2019 Lexus LS 500 Gallery

Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (non-hybrid models also shown).

  1. CORRECTION: The Lexus LS500H engine does NOT have twin turbos. Only the regular LS500 engine does. And the hybrid version also does NOT have a CVT, the transmission has gears, a convoluted 4 speed gearbox that mimics a ten speed automatic. With conservative driving, you can beat the EPA figures. I am at 32 miles per gallon with my LS500H AWD, but again, conservative driving is a must.

    1. Good catch and thank you! I have updated it with the correct information. Thinking back to the week we published this article, we had driven several Lexus vehicles, including the regular LS 500. I think we got our wires crossed as to which car had what powertrain. Thank you again for pointing it out. It should be updated now.

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