LS 600h L

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2008 Lexus LS 600h L Overview

For the 2008 model year, Toyota underscores its commitment to the environment by making its flagship the Lexus LS 600h L - maybe. Most reviewers have been skeptical. The Lexus LS 600h L is the hybrid version of the LS 460L, but the contrasts between the two cars raise questions regarding Toyota's perception of environmentally friendly automobiles.

Consider the LS 600h L's powerplant, a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 389 hp. Add in the electric motors, and total horsepower equals 438 hp; that's 58 hp more than the LS 460L's smaller V8. Yet the smaller V8 reaches 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, compared to the hybrid's 5.5 seconds. The kicker, however, comes when we compare gas mileage. Several reviewers reported that the hybrid got an average of 21 mpg - 1 mpg less than the nonhybrid LS 460L! If driven gently, the LS 600h L beats the mileage of its V8 rivals, but only by 1 to 3 mpg.

For an "environmentally friendly" automobile that crushes the scales at 5,049 pounds - that's 700 pounds more than its nonhybrid sibling - the LS 600h L has a serious weight problem. Ironically, that extra weight comes from the hybrid's heavy batteries, an all-wheel-drive system that includes two electric motors, and a lot of cabling and wiring. The extra weight slows the car and lowers gas mileage. Toyota's solution was to equip the LS 600h L with a bigger engine and more horsepower - an interesting solution for a hybrid, "environmentally friendly" automobile.

As the Toyota flagship, the LS 600h L comes with every technological advance known to Toyota. The interior ranks with the most comfortable, plush cabins known to the automotive world - generous applications of soft hand-sewn leather, wood inlays, and power everything. Every known safety system, and some you never thought of, is included.

Yet when the bottom line - $104,715 - rang up, most reviewers were not impressed. The alternative offered was the nonhybrid LS 460L, saving $30,000, and a Prius - the nonhybrid Lexus for long trips and the true hybrid for round town - two for the price of one LS 600h L.

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LS 600h L

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