NEW FOR 2008:

– All-new model

An all-new model, the Lexus LS 600h L is a hybrid based on the company’s flagship LS 460L long-wheelbase sedan. The company says that it is the world’s first V8 hybrid all-wheel drive powertrain.

The LS 600h L uses a 5.0-litre V8 mated to Lexus Hybrid Drive, which uses high-output electric motors and a large-capacity battery pack to deliver up to 438 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque, which the company says is the performance of a V12 with the fuel economy of a V6. A dual-stage, electronically-controlled CVT allows the driver to select one of three acceleration response modes, and choose engine brake force from eight different ranges.

The LS 460h L comes in a single trim line, and includes 19-inch alloy wheels, six-CD/DVD/MP3 surround-sound stereo, dual-zone automatic climate control, climate-controlled leather seats, 16-way driver and 12-way passenger power adjustment, navigation system, back-up camera, advanced parking guidance system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated wood and leather-wrapped wheel with power tilt and telescopic, Smart Card key system with pushbutton start, power-assist doors, power opening and closing trunk, cruise control, garage door opener, white LED headlamps with auto-levelling system and washers, driver and passenger knee airbags, rear seat side airbags, first-aid kit, auto-dimming heated mirrors with tip-down and puddle lamps, power sunroof, rain-sensing wipers and fog lamps.

Three option packages are available, and add such items as rear-seat DVD entertainment system, rear massaging seats with reclining ottoman, infrared body temperature sensor, adaptive cruise control, satellite radio, and leather-covered instrument panel and doors. An available advanced pre-collision system uses radar and stereo cameras to detect obstacles in front of the vehicle, and a surveillance system to monitor driver attention and distraction; it then coordinates with the vehicle to ready its brakes and suspension for any evasive actions.

If the LS line is the ultimate Lexus, then this is the ultimate LS: the 600h L is whisper-quiet, feature-laden, and provides performance not expected of a hybrid; its all-wheel drive system hugs the road, while its suspension system keeps passengers from feeling even the slightest bump. One drawback is the relatively small trunk, due to the placement of the hybrid battery pack.

It is a “full” hybrid and is capable of running on gasoline or electricity, or a combination of both. Whether someone who can afford as much as $159,200 for the fully-optioned model will worry about the price of gas is anyone’s guess, but with only 120 destined for Canada, the exclusivity will no doubt far outweigh the environmental statement when it comes to pulling into the country club parking lot.

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