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Category: $100,000+ Super Premium Luxury Sedan
Who should buy this car: A person looking for the ultimate luxury sedan with no compromise.
Comparable cars in this class: Audi A8L, BMW 7-SeriesInfiniti Q45, Jaguar XJ8, Mercedes Benz S-Class

Also, Check out our Road Test Article on the
2007 Lexus LS460 and LS460 L

2008 Lexus LS600h L Preview

In April 2006, Lexus revealed the details on a Hybrid V8 Ultra Luxury LS that will not only provide more power, but outstanding fuel economy for a large luxury sedan.  We expect to see over 430 horsepower.  That's V12 territory, but with fuel economy comparable to that of a very efficient V8 or a high-end V6.  This new ultimate Lexus will be called the LS600h L and have full-time all-wheel drive and a dual-stage electronically controlled, continuously variable automatic transmission.

The LS hybrid is expected to carry a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rating. A SULEV rating means the LS 600h L has nearly 70-percent cleaner emissions than the cleanest of its competitors.  

The LS600h L is expected to be the quietest car ever made.  It is so quiet that engineers had to go back to the drawing board to redesign all the electric motors and switches because they were becoming noticeable for the first time.

This will be the first Lexus LS with all-wheel drive.  For those who have been waiting for all-wheel drive to come to the Lexus LS will be pleased to know that this is a real all-wheel drive system with front and rear differentials and a transfer case, not simply an additional electric motor to power the front axle.  The design is compatible with the non-hybridLexus LS460 and LS460 L.  I expect that it will be available on the more affordable LS models in the next year or two.

The new Hybrid LS is expected to arrive in Lexus showrooms in Spring of 2007 and will probably reach the 6 figure price range, placing it on the "List of things to buy when I hit the lottery" category for most people.

So, what makes this car a hybrid and why should I want one?

Despite the fact that they use electric motors that draw their power from a battery, hybrid vehicles do not have to be plugged in to recharge... Ever.  The battery is recharged from two sources, and herein lies this system's advantage.  The first source is from a generator powered by the internal combustion engine.  The second source is through reclaiming the energy that is normally wasted slowing and stopping the vehicle.  The main electric motor reverses to become a generator whenever the car is coasting or slowing down.  The harder you step on the brakes, the more energy is directed back to the battery.  When it is time to accelerate, all that electrical energy we captured by slowing down is sent back to the electric motor to accelerate.  This is where the fuel savings come from. 

Adding a hybrid powertrain to a given engine is like adding a turbocharger, but with no turbocharger lag,  In fact, the throttle response on a hybrid vehicle is instantaneous.  An electric motor doesn't need to wait for the air to go from the throttle plate to the combustion chamber and be mixed with fuel, the power is there the instant your toe taps the throttle.  That's how it was with the Lexus GS450h that I spent time with and that is how I expect it will be with the LS600h L.

The LS600h L is the first hybrid vehicle with a V8 engine, and what an engine it is.  The Lexus LS460 uses a 4.6 liter V8 engine that has 380 horsepower and is capable of accelerating from a stop to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds.  While we do not have a whole lot of details yet for the LS600h, we can tell you that it has a 5 liter V8.  Couple that with the added power of a high-output electric motor and you get a combined horsepower output of over 430.

In early May, we will have a full review along with driving impressions and detailed photos for our photo gallery.

What we know at this time:

  • The car will have all-wheel drive

  • There will be more than 430 horsepower available from the hybrid powertrain

  • The LS600h L will be nearly 70% cleaner running than its cleanest competitors.

  • The LS600h L will be possibly the quietest car ever made.

  • You will not be able to feel the transmission shifting.

  • It will have the power of a V12 with the fuel economy of a very efficient V8.

  • The car will tell you where traffic jams are so you can find an alternate route ahead of time.

  • There is a camera watching the drivers face.  If the driver is not looking ahead when there is a possibility of an accident, the car will warn the driver and even begin applying the brakes if necessary

  • This will be the world's first vehicle to use LED headlights for low beams

  • 19 speaker 450 watt Mark Levinson sound system

  • The car will automatically parallel park itself at the touch of a button

For more information on the LS 600h, visit Lexus.com

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