Road Test: Lexus LS 600h L

Don't get crazy excited. Yes, the new LS 600h L is a hybrid, and it drives faster, smoother and more quietly than any Lexus I've tested. But while this long-wheelbase sedan gets better mileage than competitors in its class, the low 20s on an mpg readout is still pretty sorry by today's automotive standards. If you ignore that, I say, wow, Lexus has finally stepped up to play with the big guns, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

This impressive car is loaded with an armada of standard and optional features not found together on any other car. A button allows it to run only on electric power for up to three miles. And the LS 600h L parks itself. Really. I pulled up in front of a parallel spot, hit a button, and darn if the thing didn't back itself up and slide right in. The interior is abundant and elegant, with triple-tone leather appointments, heated and cooled massaging seats, and a razor-sharp Mark Levinson sound system. A button that sets the shocks for Sport, Normal and Comfort seemed silly in a sedan this size. After all, was I really going to slalom this honker on a twisty road? Then again, when I hit the gas, it was impossible not to thrill at the catapult-like acceleration.

Tip: The Executive Seating Package gives backseat riders heated, cooled and reclining seats and a DVD with wireless headphones for $12,675 more.

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