August 09, 2021 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2021 Lexus LS500h Premier 5-Seater

Commanding from the Rear

The face-lifted and equipment updated 5th generation Lexus LS500h Premier hybrid has arrived in our market with a choice of two configurations: an extremely lavish 4-seater that sells for P11,408,000.00, and the 5-seater variant which is P2,170,000.00 less expensive. Our test unit here is the Deep Blue Mica-colored Premier 5-seater at the price of PhP 9,238,000.00. The most challenging questions about the Lexus LS-model range are focused on model pricing. The most attainable Lexus LS of the 4 models available in our Philippine market is the “500” which sells for P5,928,000.00 which has more than 85% of the standard desirable equipment intact at the same dimensions and prestige backed up by a more potent 415 bhp twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine.

So, the incremental improvements of trim and packaging ramps up the price significantly with the remaining non-hybrid at PhP 9,778,000.00. The conundrum is that even the non-Premier LS500 is already sublime, so buyers have to be extremely discerning and sensitive to even the tiniest minutia of details to be willing to spend so much more for them. And I get it; when you do sample the higher-grade models, they are plusher with Kiriko cut glass, quilted leather interior trim, deep tissue seat massagers with 22-way rear power seats and ottomans. The cost for them is very difficult to absorb as I find the standard seats already very comfortable even without the extra ottomans. Then again, if you can afford it, then go for it. You will get dangerously close to Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II rear passenger comfort for a fraction of the price. So given that unique perspective, then yes, it is relative.

The next issue I have is how the LS500h Premier drives. I have experienced and comprehensively tested the same high-performance drivetrain when it was first employed in the 415-pound lighter LC500h luxury sport coupé and it was phenomenal, even potentially more compelling than the full-blown 471 bhp V8 LC500. But in the flagship, where I expected dynamic performance to be closer to the previous LS600h, it isn’t close. Then again, I do not represent the majority of Lexus LS buyers in the Philippines who will NOT be driving their luxury saloons but instead enjoy the incredible experience as a pampered rear passenger. My apologies, but I have to do my job; as a passenger, any Lexus LS would be fabulous but the driving experience at this level is best enjoyed without the hybrid drivetrain.

In this situation, you will be getting less outright performance for your money. You are paying more to get less power as well as marginally improved fuel economy and emissions, but if you are a buyer with the financial capacity and do desire to have the quietest and lowest emission full-size luxury saloon in the market, then the Lexus LS500h Premier will make every sense.

As a vehicle that operates with a CVT transmission, the LS500h does drive with the best current setup that actually uses two sets of transmissions, an eCVT melded with an Aisin 4-speed automatic, to closely mimic the twin-turbo V6-variant’s conventional 10-speed automatic gearbox ratios. In all real-world terms, the definitive result of the expertly engineered alternative transmission actually drives very well with the hybrid drivetrain. Just keep in mind that the EV mode button will only work well as you stealthily get dropped off and picked up at a hotel lobby. Even with a fully charged lithium-ion battery fed by the brakes and the overall system, the 1.1-kWh capacity is just too small to have enough juice to sustain complete silence beyond a 2-kilometer stretch of road. Think instead that the system helps create the appropriate power to remain as cossetting and as silent as possible. Technically, the system should allow you to touch up to 140 km/h without the V6 engine intervening if you are very methodical and deliberately gentle with the throttle but in real-world use, that situation cannot be replicated effectively.

Removing Rolls-Royce and Bentley from the equation, the Lexus LS500h Premier is the absolute best rear passenger luxury vehicle in our market. It is not a flagship intended to be driven by its owner. The standard luxury equipment, refinement, build quality, beautiful design inside and out, and the mind-blowing 2,400-watt Mark Levinson audio system are all exemplary as they should be at this level of pricing.

Specification – 2021 Lexus LS500h Premier 5-Seater

Engine: V6

Location: Front, Longitudinal

Displacement: 3456 cc

Cylinder block: Cast Aluminum

Cylinder head: Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, Dual VVT-I Wide Intake & Intelligent Exhaust

Fuel Injection: Direct Injection, Atkinson-cycle, Two 177 hp (132 kW) / 221 lb-ft Permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors, 1.1-kWh (310.8v) lithium-ion battery pack.

Max power: 295 hp @ 6600 rpm (Combined power with EV: 354 hp)

Max torque: 258 lb-ft @ 5100 rpm (approximately 370 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm combined with EV)

Transmission: CVT with four fixed ratios and manual-shifting mode, Rear Wheel Drive

Front suspension: Adaptive Variable Air Suspension; independent double-joint multilink with forged aluminum components, air springs, electronically controlled linear-solenoid shock absorbers, and stabilizer bar

Rear suspension: Adaptive Variable Air Suspension; independent multilink with forged aluminum components, air springs, electronically controlled linear-solenoid shock absorbers, and stabilizer bar

Fuel Capacity: 82 liters (21.7 gallons)

Drag Coefficient: .27 cd

Ground Clearance: 168 mm

Load Capacity: 440 liters

L x W x H: 5235 mm x 1900 mm x 1450 mm

Wheelbase: 3125 mm

Brakes: Front 14.1-inch (357 mm) ventilated discs 4-piston calipers / Rear 13.2-inch (335 mm) vented discs with 2-piston calipers Integrated Electric Parking Brake, ABS, ECB, EBD, BA, Regenerative function.

Wheels: 19”x 8.5J Multi-spoke Aluminum Alloys

Tires: P245/50R19 101W Bridgestone Turanza T005A RFT

Weight: (kerb) 2295 kg. (5049 lbs.)

0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 5.4 seconds

Top Speed (mph): 225 km/h (140 mph) Governed

Fuel Mileage: 6.6 L/100 kms. Overall, 25 mpg City / 33 mpg Highway

Price as tested: PhP 9,238,000.00

C! RATING 9.5/10

+Optimized for rear passenger enjoyment. Very desirable, incredibly quiet and opulent. Cabin design and interior materials are extraordinary. Best rear seats in the segment bested only by its more expensive 4-passenger model, 2.400-watt 23-speaker Mark Levinson QLI infotainment system, long list of standard kit.

-Price. Optimized for rear passenger enjoyment.

© C! 2003-2021. All Rights Reserved. Designed by