Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid
Base price: $90,000 (est.)
EPA fuel economy: 19/26 mpg
DIFFERENT BECAUSE: It's a comfy, understated, autobahn-friendly monster.
Traditionally, if you wanted a big luxury car, you had to pay the price: the bigger your ride, the bigger the fuel bill. No more. The age of the fuel-efficient luxoboat is upon us, and its chief star (no pun intended) is the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid.
Like every S-class, the S400 offers continent-swallowing pace and a quiet sense of dignity. Unlike every other S-class, however, the S400 sports a lithium-ion battery pack and a compact, ring-shaped electric motor paired to a 275-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The latter runs on the Atkinson cycle and benefits from the motor's 118 lb-ft of torque; thanks to careful tuning, the whole assembly interacts seamlessly, offering a driving experience as glassily sedate as that of every other Mercedes. Unlike most hybrids, the S400's genius lies in its utter lack of occasion -- it's simply a large, relaxed, and cushy autobahn cruiser, with everything that notion entails. If you want to reduce your consumption but -- horrors! -- can't bear the thought of life without automatic-massage seats, triple-digit highway poise, and more passenger room than a 747, this is the car for you.