The Mercedes, by comparison, feels like a normal V-6-powered S-class. The Benz and the Lexus behave so differently that you realize this isn't a battle of which car is the better sedan, it's a clash between two philosophies. The Lexus was admirably early to market, but suddenly it seems that Benz's more elegant system reaps nearly the same benefits.
Indeed, rumor has it that this hybrid system will be standard equipment across the board on the next-generation S-class set to debut in late 2012. Mercedes also has a two-mode hybrid system coming this December in the ML450, and we're confident that Lexus has a few more hybrid tricks up its sleeve. So, which is it going to be? Will we see more luxury hybrids with straightforward powertrains, or will the Lexus model prevail? The answer isn't completely clear, but there is one thing you can bet on: hybrids are here to stay.
Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid
On sale: September
Price: $90,000 (est.)
Engine: 3.5L V-6/electric hybrid, 295 hp (combined), 284 lb-ft (combined)
Battery: Lithium-ion, 0.8 kW-h
On sale: Now
Engine: 5.0L V-8/electric hybrid, 438 hp (combined), 385 lb-ft
Battery: Nickel-metal hydride, 1.9 kW-h