Find of the Week: 2008 Lexus LS 600hL

Last week, we showed you that you can be electric and still have serious performance. This week, it's a slightly different track. And a whole lot cheaper, too. This time it's a car that sits at the top of the luxury sedan pile. It also happens to be a hybrid. Which we think actually adds to the luxury of the vehicle. It's the Find of the Week: a 2008 Lexus LS 600h.

When the LS arrived in 1989, it was the first thrust of the all-new Lexus brand that Toyota Motor launched in all-out pursuit of the Germans, who up to that point had been dominating the luxury market for some time. They went to great lengths to show off just how well bolted together and smooth the car was. With ad campaigns like running a ball bearing along the body gaps and putting champagne flutes on the engine cover.

By the time the fourth generation of the LS launched in 2006, the model – and the brand – were firmly established in the premium car sector. Especially that flagship LS.

With parent Toyota known as much for the Prius hybrid as for anything else at that point, it seemed fitting that the hybrid line would expand to the company flagship. In fact, the first showing of the fourth LS was actually the LF-Sh (Lexus Future Sedan Hybrid) concept shown in Tokyo in 2005.

So months after the reveal of that generation car, it was no surprise to see a hybrid version break cover.

The LS 600h wasn't aimed at executives who wanted the economical version. It was aimed at plutocrats who wanted the best luxury car Lexus had to offer. Here, the additional quiet, smoothness, and torque from the electric assistance were the primary goals. Saving at the pump was almost a happy coincidence for what was at the time the most expensive Japanese luxury car ever. Sure, company press releases aren't exactly known for modesty, but how often do you see claims like "it does not get better than this," and "Lexus engineers have not only built the finest hybrid in the world – but the finest automobile." Bold.

Luxury features abound in this car, even by the standards of 10 years on. Electronic gauges, parking guidance, power tilt and telescope steering linked to the seat memory, a power rear sunshade, Mark Levinson audio with 19 speakers, LED adaptive headlights, adaptive suspension, rain sensing wipers, and more. The only things missing are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and even the 2019 doesn't have the latter.

It gets even better. There were power seats that could adjust in more ways than most people would know what to do with. Including adjustments to the rear. And heated and cooled thrones for back seat passengers.

Wafting the LS along is a 5.0L V8. That's actually larger than the 4.6L engine in the non-hybrid cars. Add the electric motor of the Lexus Hybrid Drive and you get 438 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. Power that matched the V12s of the competition with fuel economy (9.9 L/100 km highway) that matched their compact cars, not their flagships. At start-up and low speeds, the car can run on electric power only, rolling silently along. The torque was uninterrupted thanks to the CVT. It also came with all-wheel drive.

The Lexus LS 600hL was a premium car, and it came with a premium price tag, starting at $120,000. This one, for sale in Burlington, ON, has just over 80,000 km on the odometer. But it's still seen a big hit from depreciation bringing that price down to a fraction of when new.

It's a car that's the price of a compact SUV, that offers fuel economy that's about the same as a compact SUV, but that offers up luxury and passenger space completely alien to the compact SUV segment. And, this one's actually green. Making it a green green car that could save you some green (or red and brown). It's our Find of the Week.

Green Luxury 4/17/2019 10:00:00 AM