So we’ve covered nearly the whole array of hybrids now. The Insight representing the hybrid purist, the Fusion mid-sized family saloon and an SUV. Now we come to a hybrid segment not well known, that of the luxury flagship hybrid. It’s a strange breed this one, almost an oxymoron in of itself as one tends to think of a luxury flagship as a massive road going land yacht, overflowing at the seams with techno goodies to please their wealthy owners. Not you’re average tree huggers mode of transportation.
Well, that’s precisely what we have in the Lexus LS600 h. A very large, long wheelbase executive sedan armed with a large V-8, plus the worlds top technology and luxury. And what a ride, the first thing any driver will notice about a Lexus is the silky smooth ride. But there is also two electric motors hidden in with all these items of significance. Which raises the question, why would wealthy limo driving people want a hybrid? Well the answer is that large
amounts of people with means have been found on Toyota’s showroom floor dropping cash for the Prius. With the Prius leaving showrooms as fast as they come in, Toyota thought, why not let the little guy have the much cheaper Prius, and let the wealthy keep their luxury, power hungry needs with the addition of an eco responsibility badge pasted on the back to help them sleep better at night.
And so you have it, the 5.0L V-8 powered, 2,290 kg techno filled, AWD beast can be had with electric assist. Now your wondering, can a little electric motor actually make this car environmentally responsible? Well no, it still uses a good amount of fuel, and therefore still emits a fair amount of pollution. However, what this hybrid system does, is take away a rather large chunk out of the possible harm this car could do, without upsetting the luxuries people come to expect with such a car. Despite being able to heave its massive weight forward at a rate of 5.5sec for 0-96 km/h, the LS600 h has the power of a very large V-8, yet gets the fuel efficiency of a mid-sized V-6, while being able to run on full electric power during low speeds.
Then there’s the techno goodies, something Lexus pride themselves on immensely. Personally I’m not a big fan of the tech thing, but an impressive list of self parking technology, Hard Drive based SatNav system, multi-wave radar Cruise system and collision avoidance system, and enough airbags to make a throw pillow junky jealous, puts the LS600 h at the top of its class. Then there is the rear passenger area that features heated, A/C and shiatsu massaging rear seats that recline with foot rest. A personal cooler and work table along with a LCD screen on which to play your favourite DVD’s. Seems like the back is the place to be right. Well yes it is, because the entire week that I had the car, I wasn’t able to get back there once, because a greedy friend of family member wanting a taste of the good life always occupied it.
The week I had the car also just happened to fall on the Christmas holidays, which meant I was a big hit at family and business parties, but the most impressive and rewarding feature this car had for me was that little hybrid logo on the rear deck. While looking for a parking spot in an IKEA parking lot, three days before Christmas, the chaos of the situation was, as you’d expect. Long lines of cars stretching out the lot and down the road, all trying to find a parking spot. I figured I’d take a chance and try my luck in front of the entrance. Long and behold, there was two open parking sports right up front with “Hybrid Only Parking” signs protecting them. SCORE! While the LS600 h isn’t exactly a Prius, it is a hybrid nonetheless.
Price as tested: $142,842
Layout: Front Engine – All Wheel Drive
Engine: 5.0L V-8 with two electric assist motors
Transmission: Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission
Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated Disc
Curb Weight: 2,290 kg
Towing Capacity: NA
0-100 km/h: 5.5 sec
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 10.6/9.1L/100km