Lexus LS 600h L

Hybrids have a well-earned appeal among the granola set, but Lexus is throwing in Champagne style in a dramatic case for environmentally friendly luxury with its LS 600h L. This hybrid is one swanky looker that can outperform just about anything on four wheels.

The LS 600h L was turning heads at the New York International Auto Show last spring. When the car hits the showroom, Lexus is betting its Hybrid Drive system can take on the best of the 12-cylinder luxury sedans on the market. Its V-8 gas engine mates to two electric motors/generators that can rev up to a combined 430-plus-horsepower performance. An all-wheel-drive system will enhance vehicle handling considerably. And Lexus is promising one of the quietest rides on the planet as you bull your way to 60-plus mph in split-second timing.

The base price may remind some people of what they paid for a starter home in the 1990s, but you've got the best bragging rights with this hybrid from the Lexus auto lab: top-of-the-line class with a buttery-smooth ride.

This luxury-car maker has always had the happy distinction of being able to elicit rave reviews from Consumer Reports. But with a mileage rating we're guessing is unlikely to pass the mid-20s, the LS 600h L isn't likely to gin a whole lot of enthusiasm from the environmental crowd. A significant consolation: a likely certification as a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle. For anyone who hungers for special accessories, there's a lineup of optional features that includes a 19-speaker stereo, parallel-parking assistance from a three-camera system, and more gadgetry than you'd find onboard some private jets.

No official price yet, but analysts predict a sticker price in the neighborhood of $150,000.