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Weidel on Wheels: Over-the-top is this Lexus’ game

LS 600h L has unbridled power and features exquisite road manners
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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The problem was instantly recognized. Once one gets behind the wheel of the plush Lexus LS 600h L, you won’t want to drive another vehicle.

That might not be entirely true. You might feel that way until the first car payment arrives. Warning — it’s extremely hefty.

Lexus continues to amaze with its ability to create lavish automobiles. Some of my favorite vehicles are from the Lexus brand because they typically combine power, refinement, an unbelievable list of standard features and have some very cool optional gadgets as well.

Yet the common man may also come to his senses when confronted with the price.

In the case of the 2009 Lexus LS 600h L (the h stands for hybrid), it’s sticker shock and much more. How does $106,885 sound? Terrifying? Throw in the premium luxury package and a few other extras and the price climbs to a whopping $117,130.

Of course, the LS 600h L is a stellar model, the first luxury sedan to combine a V8 gasoline engine with an electric motor. While the technology is to be applauded, the biggest complaint is Lexus has crafted a hybrid model that really isn’t anything special on gas, getting a mere 20 to 22 miles per gallon.

For around $40,000 less, one can drive home in the LS460, which gets 16 to 24 mpg and delivers basically the same performance as the LS 600h L.

If the pull is that strong to buy this unique Lexus hybrid and the bank account can accommodate, go ahead and pull the trigger, there’s little to no regret.
The LS 600h L features full-time all-wheel drive and has a terrific 5.0-liter, V8 engine with a combined 438 horsepower when teamed with the electric motor.

The performance is both inspiring and tantalizing, because going an effortless 80 mph on the freeway feels like 60 in a sedan that gobbles up the road — it was clocked at 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds.

Besides incredible acceleration, the LS 600h L is simply the quietest car I have ever driven. One can hardly detect when the engine is turned on, it accelerates with barely a sound, and there is virtually zero wind, road or tire noise.

The LS 600h L features a distinguished exterior, while the interior is rich with classy leather and wood trim. It provides extreme comfort and tons of space. My daughter couldn’t get over the size of the backseat, where the legroom would please most NBA centers.

The standard equipment list is exceedingly long and decadent. It includes the parking assist with a back-up camera, where the driver literally hands over that tedious assignment to the vehicle.

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2009 Lexus LS 600h L (hybrid)

Price: Starting at $106,885

Mileage estimate: From 20 mpg city to 22 mpg highway 

Power: 5.0-liter, V8 engine with a combined
438 horsepower
  
Standard features include: Traction and stability control; power moonroof; parking assist with a back-up camera; navigation system with real-time traffic; leather-trimmed seats; heated steering wheel; 16-way power driver seat and 12-way power passenger seat with memory for both; heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats; power rear sunshade; Bluetooth and 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system (with six-disc CD/DVD changer, satellite radio, a music server with a 2,000-song capacity and an auxiliary input jack