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2009 Lexus LS Hybrid Review

This review was written when the 2009 Lexus LS Hybrid was new.

The Lexus LS 600h is, at the moment, the only luxury V8 hybrid car in the world. While most of its competitors offer a V12 edition of their super-luxury sedan, and a few offer less-powerful hybrids, Lexus counters with a high-performance hybrid -- aV8 seamlessly integrated with an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission.

It's pricey, but the Lexus LS 600h offers a rare combination of luxury, power, and environmental cachet. The LS 600h can command a premium of more than $40,000 over the LS 460 L it's based on. But the LS is the fastest edition of Lexus's most luxurious car, and until recently, the only super-luxury hybrid.

The idea, however, is catching on.

Mercedes will sell a hybrid-powered version of its S-Class sedan for the 2010 model year -- though Mercedes' edition is tuned more for efficiency and less for performance.  BMW is rumored to be developing  a hybrid-powered 7-Series as well, though no release date has been set.  Even a start-up is getting into the act -- the powerful Fisker Karma will offer sporty green luxury for a similar price tag beginning in 2010.

But the LSh remains the only car on the market to attempt to combine environmental credibility with horsepower that approximates the output of a V12.

The 2009 edition of the LS 600h is almost identical to the 2008 edition, with only one minor change: the passenger's side front seat now has a memory function.

Be sure to check Lexus deals for possible discounts on the LS.

  • "The hybrid 600h is a technological tour-de-force, but in this price range, most European competitors offer the cachet of a 12-cylinder powertrain." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The LS 600h L ends up delivering only 2 mpg more than a regular LS 460 L in the EPA's combined fuel economy estimate...What the 2009 Lexus LS 600h L does succeed at, however, is reduced tailpipe emissions (it's SULEV rated), an extraordinarily appointed luxury ride and the exclusivity ensured by its limited production." -- Edmunds
  • "A luxury car first and a hybrid second, the LS600hL is a tech-laden, top-of-the-line dream machine with the performance and features to match anything in its rarefied class. The hybrid system doesn't make it an eco-mobile, but it does give it a notably more benign ecological impact than its competitors." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "To be honest, the best way to evaluate the LS 600h L is not against other hybrids, but against other high-horsepower luxury sedans. Its closest competition comes from the 12-cylinder Mercedes-Benz S600 and BMW 760Li." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The Lexus LS 600h is more than just a stretched LS460. It's an advanced, intelligent, premium vehicle with numerous environmental benefits. It's fun to drive, but back seat passengers get the royal treatment." -- New Car Test Drive
Review Last Updated: 3/9/10

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