Lexus has taken a commanding lead in the field of hybrid-powertrain technology, offering a full lineup of five hybrid vehicles while most competitors in the premium segment offer none. It started back in 2005, when Lexus introduced the RX 400h sport utility, the world’s first luxury hybrid vehicle. The roster quickly expanded, branching out to include a trio of sedans, capped by the LS 600h L flagship. The latest model to join the family is the CT 200h, a sporty, five-seat premium compact that returns 43 city mpg and serves as the gateway vehicle for eco-conscientious buyers looking to enter the Lexus fold.
Shinichi Abe, lead engineer for the hybrid-vehicle program at Lexus, explains that the design philosophy driving his team rests upon four pillars: Cleanliness, quietness, fuel efficiency and fun. In keeping with that mandate, every vehicle in the hybrid lineup not only puts the emphasis on best-in-class fuel economy and low emissions, they deliver the world-class refinement, power, technology and chassis dynamics buyers expect from Lexus.
All vehicles in the lineup are “full” hybrids, which means they can run on power from just the gasoline engine, just the electric motor or a blend of the two. Recent technological advancements - such as the use of Atkinson-cycle engines and Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation in certain models – have further reduced emissions and boost efficiency on the fossil-fuel side of the Lexus Hybrid Drive equation. The CT 200h and HS 250h were designed from the ground up as a “dedicated hybrid,” so the positioning of the battery pack, electric motors and continuously variable transmission would not encroach on passenger space or cargo volume.
Proving great things can come in compact packages, the CT 200h (Starting MSRP $29,120) offers the best fuel mileage of any vehicle in the luxury class. Drivers can expect a combined rating of 42 mpg from a hybrid powertrain that features a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine and a total system output of 134 hp. Boasting a fully independent suspension and a selectable “Sport” mode that tunes power delivery for handling performance, the five-seat CT 200h carries plenty of driving excitement. It’s also a legitimate luxury vehicle with available perforated leather trim, hard-drive-based navigation and Lexus Enform™ telematics.
Until the introduction of the CT 200h, the HS 250h sedan (Starting MSRP $37,030) held best-in-class fuel efficiency honors. Rated at 187 hp, the hybrid-drive system in the HS, which features an all-aluminum 2.4-liter four-cylinder, returns a combined 35 mpg. In keeping with the incredible level of attention to detail found in every Lexus sedan, the HS 250h offers seven interior color trim combinations of genuine leather trim and wood accents, and steering wheel-mounted audio, phone and display controls. Advanced technology includes such available items as a Heads-Up Display, a Pre-Collision System with Driver Attention Monitor and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
The liner heir to the very first hybrid vehicle offered by Lexus, the RX 450h (Starting MSRP $45,235) continues to deliver remarkable fuel economy, all-road capability and versatile cargo capacity. Count on a total system output of 295 hp (produced in part by a 3.5-liter V6) and a combined 30 mpg rating to get you where you need to go while making fuel stops a rare occurrence. Available part-time all-wheel drive, a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds and 80.3 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume make the RX 450h a heavyweight in the segment. Passenger comfort is also a priority, as demonstrated by available luxuries like fore-and-aft sliding rear seats, a Mark Levinson Premium Surround-Sound System and a Dual-Screen Rear-Seat Entertainment System.
Think of the GS 450h sedan (MSRP Starting $58,950) as brute power with conscience. How else to describe an Autobahn-worthy sports sedan that rockets from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, yet still returns 25 highway mpg and earns a Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle II (SULEV II) rating? Efficiency and attitude both crowd the spotlight in the GS 450h. An advanced 3.5-liter V6 engine contributes to a total system output of 340 hp and a top speed of 130 mph. Variable Gear Ratio Steering, four-wheel antilock brakes with massive 13.1-inch front rotors and an Adaptive Variable Suspension with active dampers deliver chassis dynamics capable of taming extreme test tracks or lulling your passengers to sleep.
Can you name all the long-wheelbase flagship sedans that feature full-time all-wheel drive, reach a top speed of 131 mph, return 23 mpg on the highway and boast a SULEV II rating? No need to strain your brain – there’s only one: The Lexus LS 600h L sedan (Starting MSRP $112,750). System output reaches 438 hp, courtesy of a four-cam 5.0-liter V8 mated to a permanent-magnet electric-drive motor. As you’d expect from a Lexus flagship, opulence is the order of the day with LED interior lighting, a 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson Surround-Sound Audio System and premium leather-covered, power-adjustable front seats highlighting the list of standard features. The available Executive-Class Seating Package includes power rear seats with heating and cooling, a nine-inch LCD screen that descends from the ceiling and a reclining right rear seat that features a built-in leg rest and massage function.
Most premium carmakers agree that hybrid technology is the answer to delivering luxurious and powerful vehicles with a minimal carbon footprint, and they plan to produce those vehicles sometime down the road. At Lexus, sometime down the road is already on the road – with five models to choose from. Come experience the ride of tomorrow, today, by scheduling a test drive of the Lexus Hybrid that suits you best.