2019 Lexus LS 500h essentials: Swing and a miss

Our Opinion: There are plenty of Lexus products I like; those I don’t exactly like, I at least understand and respect. With a few notable exceptions the brand is more about vanilla luxury, and Lexus has traditionally done that with uncompromising quality and focus. But this LS hybrid completely misses the mark for me.
I’m going to ignore the bland styling that, from most angles, could easily be a Buick LaCrosse or Hyundai Azera, and instead focus on the driving experience, where one would expect the Lexus LS500h to excel. It most definitely does not. Ride and handling can best be describe as unsettled — in normal or comfort modes, the car feels like a body-on-frame design wiggling on loose body mounts. Sport mode helps tighten up the suspension, making me think this might be a function of poorly tuned air springs, but in Sport the steering feels artificially heavy and the hybrid tuning can’t decide if it’s trying to deliver power or efficiency.
About that hybrid tuning: You’d think Lexus, as the luxury division of Toyota, arguably the global leader in hybrid tech, would have this down to a science, but the LS500h suggests otherwise. The electric/gas handoff is harsh, noisy and jarring in the manner of a first-gen hybrid, and the regenerative brakes are completely nonlinear — they either don’t slow you enough or throw you through the windshield. Combined with the odd ride and handling traits described above, this Lexus LS500h is simply not a pleasant car to drive from any perspective; as a final insult, my reward for putting up with the hybrid weirdness was a totally unimpressive 23.9 miles per gallon.