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5 Luxury Hybrids

With more hybrids on the road, there's a better chance someone's going to dream up a fancy version and actually sell it. See more hybrid car pictures.
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Much of the attention paid to hybrid cars is due to the need to cut back on excess. As gas prices fluctuate, concern over peak oil grows and experts debate the role humans and automobiles play in global warming, the push for better fuel economy has forced many car companies to adapt accordingly.

So with a depressed economy, people holding back on new car purchases and drivers cutting back on commuting in general in order to save gas money, you'd think it wouldn't be the right time to try to sell a hybrid car with a six-figure list price, right?

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Oops, you'd be wrong. As more and more automakers test out hybrid technologies and the market for fuel-efficient vehicles expands, a small but plush corner of the industry is emerging -- the luxury hybrid car.

One of Lexus' three luxury hybrids, the GS 450h, was one of the first luxury hybrids on the market.
One of Lexus' three luxury hybrids, the GS 450h, was one of the first luxury hybrids on the market.
Toyota.com

As far as luxury hybrids go, Lexus seems to own this specific niche. The company offers three very different luxury hybrid vehicles, each with its own look, feel and function. Starting at $56,550, our list begins with the Lexus GS 450h, one of the very first luxury hybrids offered by Lexus to discerning drivers.

The GS 450h has a V-6 gas-electric powertrain that produces 340 horsepower and accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometers per hour) in 5.2 seconds. As far as fuel efficiency goes, the 450h isn't too impressive when stacked up against some of the other, more affordable models -- it gets about 22 miles per gallon (9.4 kilometers per liter) in the city and 25 miles per gallon (10.6 kilometers per liter) on the highway -- but it still performs better than most luxury sedans with conventional gasoline engines, which typically average between 15 and 20 miles per gallon (6.4 and 8.5 kilometers per liter).

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Standard features for the GS 450h include dual climate controls and a power tilt-and-slide moonroof; there are also special options that owners can pay extra for, such as a voice-activated DVD navigation system and XM satellite radio compatibility, among others.

The Mercedes S400 luxury hybrid, the company's first hybrid car, will also be the first car in production to use lithium-ion batteries.
The Mercedes S400 luxury hybrid, the company's first hybrid car, will also be the first car in production to use lithium-ion batteries.
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For the company's S-Class series, its line of luxury sedans, Mercedes-Benz has decided to jump on the hybrid bandwagon and add its own fuel-efficient vehicle to the fleet. The automaker's first-ever hybrid production vehicle is the Mercedes S400, which will make its debut in 2010.

The gas-electric powertrain produces 295 horsepower and reaches an estimated 29 miles per gallon (12.3 kilometers per liter), which is a 30-percent increase over the similar S550 model. Notably, the S400 will be the world's first car in mass production to use a lithium-ion battery, which many auto experts claim is the next step in battery technology.

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There's no price listed yet for the Mercedes S400, but if other S-Class vehicles with conventional gasoline engines go for at least $89,350, you can expect the hybrid's price to be even higher.

One of the few full-sized hybrids available, the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid doesn't hide its luxurious nature.
One of the few full-sized hybrids available, the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid doesn't hide its luxurious nature.
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Because most engineers keep hybrid designs smaller and more aerodynamic in order to reduce weight and reduce air resistance, you don't see too many full-sized hybrids out on the road. One of the few, however, also happens to be a luxury hybrid: the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.

At the heart of the Escalade Hybrid is a 332-horsepower, gas-electric, V-8 powertrain. Escalade models with rear-wheel-drive can get about 20 miles per gallon (8.5 kilometers per liter) in the city and 21 miles per gallon (8.9 kilometers per liter) on the highway; not much at all compared to most hybrids, but maybe not too bad considering that this beast can tow up to 5,800 pounds (2,631 kilograms).

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With a price tag that starts at $73,135, owners of an Escalade Hybrid get all kinds of flashy standard features, including 22-inch (55.9-centimeter) rims, climate control, heated and cooled seats and OnStar assistance.

The Lexus LS 600h L is one of the most expensive hybrids out there, with a base price of $106,035.
The Lexus LS 600h L is one of the most expensive hybrids out there, with a base price of $106,035.
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If you thought the previous Lexus luxury hybrid was expensive at $56,550, just wait until you see the price tag for its automotive cousin. The Lexus LS 600h L, one of the most expensive hybrid cars on the market, will set you back $106,035 at the very least.

The Lexus LS has a 5.0-liter, 438-horsepower, V-8 gas-electric powertrain that can go from zero to 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometers per hour) in 5.5 seconds and gets an average of 22 miles per gallon (9.4 kilometers per liter) in the city and 20 miles per gallon (8.5 kilometers per liter) on the highway. On top of being more expensive, the LS is a bit larger than the GS and has a lot more standard features, too. In fact, selecting just the base model will get you LED headlights, heated and cooled seats, a rear-view camera system for parking assistance and keyless ignition. More expensive options include a Pre-Collision System (PCS) and chrome-finished alloy wheels.

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The Fisker Karma, one of the few luxury plug-in hybrid cars, could get more than 100 miles per gallon (42.5 kilometers per liter).
The Fisker Karma, one of the few luxury plug-in hybrid cars, could get more than 100 miles per gallon (42.5 kilometers per liter).
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

One of the more anticipated hybrid arrivals, one that's also considered to be a rival to the electric cars produced by Tesla Motors (which also happen to be fairly luxurious and expensive), is the Fisker Karma, a luxury plug-in hybrid.

The vehicle's original price was thought to be $80,000, but after its reveal at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., the price rose to an even more luxurious $87,900. The luxurious insides of the Karma might speak for the high price; however, the powertrain system has not one, but two electric motors coupled with a 265-horsepower GM Ecotec turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With a combined total of 408 horsepower, the Karma can go from zero to 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometers per hour) in 5.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 125 miles per hour (201.2 kilometers per hour). So, what's the part that might make the Karma worth its high price in the long run? Fisker expects it to get more than 100 miles per gallon (42.5 kilometers per liter) on the road.

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For more information about hybrid cars and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.

UP NEXT

Is an all-electric car a bad investment?

Is an all-electric car a bad investment?

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Sources

  • Aziz, Nick. "2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid debuts." LeftLaneNews.com. April 9, 2009. (July 27, 2009) http://www.leftlanenews.com/mercedes-benz-s400-hybrid.html
  • Cadillac.com. "The 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid." (July 27, 2009) http://www.cadillac.com/cadillacjsp/model/landing.jsp?model=hybrid&year=2009&cmp=HybridRedirect
  • ConsumerSearch.com. "Hybrid cars: Full Roundup." May 2009. (July 27, 2009) http://www.consumersearch.com/hybrid-cars/luxury-hybrids
  • Lexus.com. "Lexus GH Hybrid - Pricing & Options." (July 27, 2009) http://www.lexus.com/models/GSh/features/pricing.html
  • Lexus.com. "Lexus LS Hybrid - Pricing & Options." (July 27, 2009) http://www.lexus.com/models/LSh/features/pricing.html
  • Wojdyla, Ben. "Fisker Karma gets a starting price of $87,900, we get first front shot of Tesla-killer." Jalopnik.com. Dec. 8, 2008. (July 27, 2009) http://jalopnik.com/5101490/fisker-karma-gets-a-starting-price-of-87900-we-get-first-front-shot-of-tesla+killer
  • Wysaski, Jeff. "Luxury hybrid vehicle roundup." Autotropolis.com. March 11, 2009. (July 27, 2009) http://www.autotropolis.com/buying-guides/green-cars-guide/luxury-hybrid-vehicle-roundup.html

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