Lexus GS450h Hybrid

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Lexus is adding another weapon to their green-leaning arsenal as they unveilthe GS450h sedan, scheduled to reach dealerships in the spring of 2006. Itjoins Lexus's own RX400h SUV as the only luxury vehicles to offer theimproved fuel economy and eco-friendliness of a hybrid powertrain. Lexusalso touts the GS450h as the first rear-wheel-drive car to receive thehybrid treatment.

The new sedan will be powered by an electric motor mated to a 3.5-liter V-6 and it shouldboast the same sporting dynamics as the more plebian GS. The powertrain wasdeveloped exclusively for this car with athleticism in mind. Lexus claimsthat the hybrid system's performance will match that of a 4.5-literV-8--"it will produce substantially more than 300 hp and achieve 0-60 mph in well under sixseconds"--while returning gas mileage that equals that of a typical 2.0-literfour-cylinder engine. Combined fuel economy will likely fall somewhere in thehigh twenties.

Like the RX hybrid, the GS450h represents the top-of-the-line within its ownmodel range and, as such, will boast more standard equipment than non-green versions.Lexus says, however, that since the GS is already "extremely well-equipped,"the difference in spec will be less than that between the RX330 and RX400h. Expect a price premium of at least $5000-$6000 over similarlyoutfitted, non-hybrid GS430s.

Lexus plans to market the GS hybrid not on its environmentally friendlypowertrain, but rather its high-performance characteristics, and says that theprospect of spending less time--not money--at the pump will be what draws buyers to the GS450h.

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