Sunday, September 30, 2007

2008 Lexus LS 600h Review

Who says you can't have a luxury hybrid? Certainly not Lexus. The 2008 Lexus LS 600h features two electric motors and a dual-stage continuously variable transmission (electronically controlled) that work together with a five-liter V8 to produce 430 horsepower. The combined performance is that of a six-liter V12.

Outfitted with full-time, all-wheel drive, the LS 600h has all the hybrid street cred it needs, qualifying for certification as a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle. That means the emission levels come in under the competition's at a whopping 70 percent.

Safety levels are ramped up via the Lexus Advanced Pre-Collision system consisting of two cameras forward augmented by millimeter wave radar. There's a third camera sitting atop the steering column that keeps an "eye" on driver alertness, redirecting wayward attention with both visual and auditory alarms. If neither do the trick, the car brakes itself and enhances the steering ratio in the event evasive driving and high responsiveness are required.

Although many hybrid powertrains are noisy and cause annoying vibrations, the LS 600h was engineered to run silent, with levels coming in a good 50 percent under conventional automobiles. In the United States only the long-wheelbase edition will be available, but that means an extra five inches of legroom for the passengers in the back seat.

Luxury convenience options include four-zone air with purification, power sunshades on the rear doors, power headrests in the rear, a seating configuration for four including a rear console (fixed) and a fold out table, as well as a rear right seat that will recline to 45-degrees (including a multi-massage functions and a footrest.)

Technologically this one is no slouch either. The LS 600h has options for voice-activated navigation, Bluetooth, XM, rear-seat DVD, and a 450-watt surround sound audio system by Mark Levinson. Additionally, the LS 600h comes in as the first car in the world to be outfitted with front LEDs for the low beams.

Expect to drop some serious change on the 2008 Lexus LS 600h. It starts at $104,715 and can run as high as $121,000 when tricked out with the options. (That's approximately $30,000 above the gas version of the same vehicle.)

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