A relatively recent development, luxury hybrid cars pretty much prove Honda and Toyota were on the right track when they introduced hybrid automobiles in the latter part of the 20th century. Honda was the first to market with its two-seat Insight hybrid, but Toyota captured the market with its more practical four-seat Prius.
Perhaps as a result of this, Toyota is the world’s acknowledged hybrid leader. Thus, it should come as no surprise to learn Toyota products dominate this list of hybrid luxury cars with no fewer than four of the ten.
While seemingly oxymoronic, luxury hybrids enable drivers to be more fuel-efficient and emit fewer pollutants, while still enjoying all the benefits of driving a luxurious automobile.
What follows is our list of luxury hybrid cars
While many people think of hugging trees when they think of hybrids, BMW’s ActiveHybrid5 hugs the road too. BMW’s hybrid sedan uses the technology more to improve performance than efficiency, infusing the powertrain with an additional 35 horsepower for a total of 335—while achieving virtually the same fuel economy ratings as the 300-horsepower 535i.
Standard equipment includes smart bi-xenon headlights, automatic windshield wipers, power folding and auto-dimming heated mirrors, a sunroof and keyless ignition. Comfort and convenience features include four-zone automatic climate control, the iDrive telematics controller, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, a navigation system, voice controls, and a 10-speaker sound system headed by a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio input jack, and an iPod/USB portable audio device interface.
The 335 horsepower powertrain is made up of BMW’s 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six, an electric motor, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. The lithium-ion battery pack is located in the trunk. The system also incorporates an automatic stop/start function to shut off the engine when the car is stopped to further conserve fuel.
EPA ratings for the BMW hybrid luxury car are 23 MPG city, 34 highway and 28 combined.
Were it not for the Chinese marketplace, the Buick nameplate may well no longer be in existence. Buicks are extremely popular over there, so when GM was deciding which brands to keep during the recent restructuring of the company, Buick survived and is now being rejuvenated with a slate of very interesting cars like the LaCrosse. As the company’s flagship, the LaCrosse is modern, elegant, engaging to drive, and is offered with both hybrid and conventional powertrains.
The Buick’s standard feature set includes; alloy wheels, keyless entry, power windows, exterior mirrors and door locks; dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, cruise control, OnStar, and Bluetooth. A CD player, satellite radio, and an auxiliary audio input jack—as well as an iPod/USB portable audio device interface feeds the seven-speaker sound system.
One of Buick’s two hybrid luxury cars, the LaCrosse Hybrid uses Buick’s “eAssist” mild hybrid powertrain. An 11-kilowatt electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack are teamed with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to send 182 horsepower and 172 ft.-lbs. of torque to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
EPA says the Buick’s MPG ratings are 25 city/36 highway and 29 combined.
While we have yet to warm to the styling of the Infiniti hybrid, we do adore the way it goes. Particularly in its 420-horsepower, V8 powered, M56 configuration. However, there’s more to the Infiniti brand than just muscularity, as evidenced by its Hybrid M35h.
The 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid luxury car generates a total of 360 hp from its 3.5-liter V6 and its electric motor. Rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission are standard equipment.
Other standard features include; alloy wheels, power-folding heated mirrors, automatic wipers, automatic bi-xenon headlights, fog lights, a sunroof, keyless entry and start, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, leather, heated power front seats, a power actuated tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A rearview camera, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, along with a six-speaker stereo audio system fed by a CD player, an auxiliary audio and video input jack, an iPod interface and satellite radio round out the feature-set.
EPA ratings are 27 city, 32 highway and 29 combined.
One of the two “sporty” Lexus hybrid models, the CT 200h combines athletic handling and a youthful appearance with a strong slate of contemporary electronic technologies for an altogether different take on luxury hybrid cars. Many have decried the CT 200h for its lack of a more powerful engine, but the fact remains it is one of the more interesting and most fuel-efficient of the luxury hybrid offerings.
Standard fare for the smallest Lexus hybrid includes heated exterior mirrors, keyless ignition and start, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth telephone connectivity and audio streaming, and a six-speaker audio system amplifying a CD player, satellite radio and auxiliary audio/USB input jacks for portable audio players.
A 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a pair of electric motor/generators motivate the 2012 Lexus CT 200h. The combined system output of 134 horsepower is directed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The EPA estimates 43 city, 40 highway and 42 combined.
Introduced early in 2012 as a 2013 model, thus its inclusion here, this Lexus luxury hybrid is larger, quieter and more luxurious than the model it replaces. The mid-level Lexus passenger car, the ES model is the best selling car in the Lexus lineup. (The best-selling Lexus overall is the RX crossover.)
Standard equipment includes keyless entry and start, automatic headlights, fog lights, LED running lights, a sunroof, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Bluetooth telephone connectivity and audio streaming reside alongside the Lexus Safety Connect emergency communications suite. Entertainment is conducted by way of an eight-speaker sound system with a six-disc CD changer, a satellite radio receiver, an auxiliary audio input jack, and an iPod/USB portable audio player interface.
The Hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to push 200 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The EPA estimates 40 city, 39 highway and 40 combined.
The first performance-oriented Lexus model, the rear-drive sport sedan now also fulfills this role in the carmaker’s luxury hybrid car portfolio. Like the ES 300h, the GS 450h is new for 2013, but was introduced early in 2012. With its strong dynamics on the road, larger interior and comfortable accommodations, the GS 450h is a strong contender in the luxury hybrid cars marketplace.
A partial recounting of the GS 450h standard features list includes an adaptive suspension system and adjustable drive settings for steering, engine response, transmission response and suspension settings. You’ll also find smart LED headlights, LED running lights, heated auto-dimming side mirrors, smart windshield wipers, and keyless entry and start.
The GS 450h’s smart climate control system focuses air only to the occupied seats. Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio text-to-speech text messaging and the Lexus Safety Connect emergency communications service accompany entertainment choices routed through a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system. Playback options include a six-disc CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB portable audio player interface.
The hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 3.5-liter V6 and a pair of electric motors generating a total system output of 338 horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission routes the powertrain’s output to the rear wheels.
The EPA estimates 29, 34 and 31 MPG combined.
The first of the full-size luxury hybrid cars to come to market, the Lexus LS 600h L is exceptionally quiet, palatial in its accommodations, and extremely well crafted. For many years it had no peer until Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and BMW decided to adopt hybrid technology and surpassed the originator. However, an all-new 2013 LS is just about to enter the market, so Lexus may well have a shot at regaining its crown.
Meanwhile, standard fare for the 2012 Lexus LS 600h L includes power door closers and the Lexus Advanced Parking Guidance System, which autonomously steers the car into a parallel parking space. The luxury sedan also features audible parking assist with a back-up camera. Naturally, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio are teamed with the Lexus Enform telematics suite. Entertainment is delivered by way of a 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system fed by a six-disc CD/DVD changer, a satellite radio receiver, and a digital music server with a 2,000-song capacity. This, of course, is in addition to the requisite auxiliary audio/USB input jacks for portable devices.
Two electric motor/generators and a 389-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 combine their output to produce 438 horsepower. The drivetrain feeds all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission with manual shift control and three driving modes -- Normal, Power and Snow.
EPA estimates 19, 23 and 20.
Handsome, well crafted and extremely tech-laden, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid delivers outstanding fuel economy for a luxury car and offers the advantage of both near anonymity and exclusivity. OK, so it does one because of the other, but if you absolutely want to ride nice and remain out of sight, the Lincoln hybrid luxury car will serve you well.
Key aspects of the Lincoln’s standard feature offerings include fog lights, rear parking sensors, keyless entry with Ford’s exclusive outside keypad, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather, and power seats with driver memory. Ford's Sync telematics system is paired with a nine-speaker entertainment system programmed by a six-disc CD changer, auxiliary/USB audio input jacks, and a satellite radio receiver.
The MKZ hybrid powertrain is made up of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor whose combined output is 191 horsepower. The front wheels are fed by a continuously variable automatic transmission.
EPA estimates 41, 36 and 39.
The benchmark by which all other mainstream luxury cars are defined, the Mercedes-Benz S Class is a highly versatile platform featuring diesel powertrains, extremely high performance powertrains, and of course a hybrid one as well. Dubbed S400 Hybrid, the Mercedes-Benz of hybrid luxury cars, as you might well expect, is a technological marvel.
Standard features include a smart air suspension system, smart bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, a power-actuated trunk lid (for opening and closing), the COMAND telematics system, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, navigation, voice controls, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system. This is, of course, in addition to all of the other typical comfort and convenience features you’ll find in any contemporary luxury sedan.
The rear drive S400 Hybrid’s 3.5-liter V6 is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery for a total system output of 295 horsepower and 284 ft.-lbs. of torque.
EPA-estimates fuel economy at 19, 25 and 21.
At Porsche, luxury and performance are synonymous. They’re just part of the overall package. So when the company goes hybrid, you know it’s going to be the fastest hybrid on the market. When it comes to handling and speed, none of the other hybrid luxury cars comes close to the Porsche at any price point.
The rear-drive Porsche Panamera Hybrid features, as standard equipment; dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a cooled glovebox, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a 60/40-split rear seatback and rear bucket seats. Also standard are a hard-drive-based navigation system and an 11-speaker sound system with a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary input jack for portable audio devices.
A supercharged 3.0-liter V6 is paired with a 35kW electric motor to produce a total of 380 horsepower and 428 ft.-lbs. of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic with manual shift control.
The EPA says 22 city, 30 highway and 25 MPG combined.