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Nerding Out: Lexus LS 500H first drive—An excess of luxury and range

by Danny Zepeda | May 31, 2020May 31, 2020 10:49 am EDT

The Nerdy isn’t necessarily associated with automobile coverage, but at the inception of the site, we promised the ethos of it would be that we would cover anything we are nerdy about. Well, I’m really into cars and I thought why not geek out about one of the sleekest hybrids on the road right now?

That would be the Lexus LS 500H, which is an excess of luxury and range.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to drive many of Lexus’ cars, most of which are quite sporty and alluring. The LS 500H doubles down on both of those attributes—it oozes sportiness and its sharp design make it quite alluring—and throws in an economic hybrid engine that delivers what seems neverending range (over 500 miles).

The version of the LS 500H Lexus lent me was the fully loaded one with every bell and whistle. The total sticker price came at a whopping $119,785, though you can get it at the bargain price of $80,230 with the base model. As you recover from the sticker shock, let me just state that though the price is certainly hefty, you get what you pay for.

For starters, the car looks fantastic. Unlike the ES 300H, Lexus opted to throw in sleek details like an aggressive grille and 20-inch wheels that give the car a striking aesthetic that onlookers will notice. My loaner came in the Eminent White paint finish, an admittedly muted option, yet the car still appealed to me. It just looked great.

But what led me to the car was its engine: a 3.5-liter V6 with Lexus’s Multistage Hybrid System. It’s biggest features are 354 horsepower, a 0 to 60 time of 5.1 seconds, and the 500+ mile range.

That’s the best of both worlds: raw power to zip around crowded Southern California highways with ease and enough range to skip the countless gas stations you pass on your commute.

The last winning element of the LS 500H is all the little tech details that inundate the driver. Most of these features are commonplace for luxury vehicles: digital instrument cluster, big infotainment display, and power everything—seats, mirrors, steering wheel, etc. Nevertheless, they made the experience much more enjoyable.

The drop the mic feature is the fully reclinable back seats that come with the Executive Package, a cool $23,060 addition. A 7-inch display lets the rear passenger fully recline themselves into a bed. It’s basically a La-Z-Boy on wheels. Oh, and did I mention it also massages you. The pinnacle of luxury, indeed.

I enjoyed my time with the LS 500H if only because it lets me live the high life for a while. The car is a joy to drive, but I have to admit, it is clunky to drive around. With the caveat that I am used to driving a small car, Lexus’s luxury sedan is an oversized monolith on the road. Its big footprint and heavy base make it tough to sneak in and out of grocery parking lots. 

On the bright side, the power makes up for it, but you’ll have to really dig into the gas to make the V6 really hit its stride.

The perk I enjoyed the most from the car was its range. My wife and I drive gas cars currently, but we’ve already decided our next car will be a hybrid or fully electric car. We tend to lean towards an electric car, but the LS 500H certainly made us reconsider a hybrid. I drove the LS all around Orange County and eclipsed over 500 miles on the road before I had to fill it up again. For the most part, I was in Eco mode with a few stretches in Sport and Sport+ mode.

To the few of those out there that can spring for the Lexus LS 500H, it’s certainly worth it. It packs every feature you could imagine and then some. And the hybrid capability lets you take a step in a more economical direction while avoiding gas pumps and surging prices that come along with it.

Unfortunately, I fall into the crowd that can’t afford a car like it, but I cherished every second I was able to cruise around in it.


DISCLAIMER: Lexus provided a loaner for the purposes of this review.


Danny Zepeda

Danny's first introduction to fandom was rewatching the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS everyday during fifth grade until he moved on to all