What it is
It’s all about making the upper class feel good. Few things are as important as that, which makes the 2008 Lexus LS 600 hL, introduced at the 2006 New York International Auto Show, the most important car ever assembled.
Okay, hyperbole aside, it may well be one of the most fantastic cars ever built, an amazing machine that offers luxury buyers V12 performance with V8 fuel economy, a SULEV emissions rating and a slew of safety technology – including a driver-facing camera that monitors your facial ticks and orders you a latte – should you need a pick me up. It also detects when you’re not looking at the road ahead, and takes escalating steps to get your attention or save your life – whichever comes first.
Why it matters
What’s under the hood
Believe it or not, the safety technology that is introduced in the LS 600 hL is possibly more impressive than the hybrid powertrain, and way scarier in terms of intrusive electronics. Traction control is one thing, but to have a camera monitor your face, and, should it determine that you’re not looking at the road, trigger a sequence of safety maneuvers that include beeps, flashing lights, braking and steering assist. Here’s to wondering when the camera will also be used to identify the driver: Sorry, your retina does not match my master’s. You will be ejected in T-5…4 In addition to that camera, which is monitored on the dash, there are three cameras outside the car which watch for oncoming objects and possible dangers.
There’s no noise inside the cab of the Lexus LS 600 hL, and while that may not be news for a Lexus, it’s news when they claim it to be the quietest car ever. That’s a tough claim to make, but it just may be possible, given what Lexus claims is an extensive re-engineering of gears and motors, designed to produce virtually zero intrusive sound elements. They say that even the engine is silent, which is something some folks may not like too much. As a long wheel base only model, the Lexus LS 600 hL offers a full array of luxury for passengers, including reclining back seats, foot rests, and massage for all. It has almost five inches more rear seat legroom than the new LS 460. For both cars, there’s a 19-speaker stereo system, and all models of the LS will offer XM for the first time in a Lexus vehicle.
What we think
Photos by Ron Perry