Lexus LS 600h L

    The Lexus LS 600h L is considered a performance hybrid, sacrificing very little speed while sending out much cleaner emissions. In Japan, a country where the quest for perfection is a matter of national pride, the most skilled autoworkers compete for the honor of tending to the Lexus LS production line. As any LS owner will likely attest, the proof is in the pudding. For the 2009 model year, Lexus broadens the LS’s appeal with all-wheel-drive versions of the regular and long-wheelbase LS 460. These slightly heavier cars are powered by a detuned version of the 4.6-liter V-8, so acceleration is slower than the rear-drive LS’s. To sweeten the pot, all-wheel-drive versions receive standard adaptive variable air suspensions, variable-gear-ratio steering, a wood- and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel, and a powered rear sunshade. The dazzlingly advanced all-wheel-drive LS 600h L, the first and only gasoline-electric hybrid in this lofty segment, justifies its elevated sticker price by delivering the swiftness of a V-12 engine with the relative frugality of a V-8. For those who prefer to be chauffeured, the long-wheelbase models offer a pair of reclining seats with heat and massage functions in place of the standard three-place bench.

    Pros: Equal parts luxury and advanced technology.
    Cons: Understated styling verges on boring.

    Photo by Drew Phillips
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