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Luxury's Best of the Best

The high-line sphere in today’s automotive world has grown to include almost every conceivable category. We look at the class of every class.

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Think again. The base model got strong consideration in one of the other categories but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the combination gas-and-electric drive in the GS 450h can satisfy both an environmentally minded driver and one who still wants some serious excitement. To improve the green claims of the Lexus GS 450h engineers took a number of steps to improve its 3.5-liter V-6, which already used a combination of port and direct fuel injection for the gasoline side of its drivetrain. The bottom line is a 30 percent improvement in mileage over the GS 350 gas-powered sedan, while still going  from 0 to 60 in just 5.6 seconds.
This is the first model to wear what Toyoda described as the “new face of Lexus,” but the rest of the car is a lot more handsome, as well. You can always expect plenty of technology from Lexus. The GS includes a new high-definition video monitor that’s several inches bigger than an iPad. But our favorite interior touch is the “renewable” bamboo-trimmed steering wheel.
Best Luxury Concept Vehicle: (tie) Acura NSX and Lincoln MKZ
Acura NSX: The original Acura NSX, of 1990, was the first Japanese supercar, a real game-changer with its industry-first aluminum monocoque. Sadly, the Honda luxury brand could never quite figure out how to update the two-seater, which it finally pulled from the lineup in 2005.
Since then, Acura has toyed with a variety of ways to revive the NSX, including one misguided prototype using a heavy V-10 engine. But now we feel the long wait will be worth it. Due for a return to production sometime late next year, the next-generation Acura NSX will once again be a styling and technology tour de force, with a trick gas-electric powertrain that uses a single electric motor and a V-6 to power the rear wheels. Each of the front tires is powered by a separate, smaller electric motor. That approach will allow aggressive torque vectoring—turning the wheels at slightly different speeds to help power through the tightest corners.
Lincoln MKZ: As for the new Lincoln, the MKZ will resurface later this year in production form, but the concept is worth honoring now. Few brands have done a better vanishing act than Lincoln over the years. But the New MKZ says this old dog has some very new tricks in store.
Perhaps we should have come up with an avian analogy, as the exterior design of the new sedan was strongly influenced by the look of an eagle’s outstretched wings, according to Lincoln design chief Max Woolf. That’s especially apparent in the new horizontal grille, which replaces the tired, Lincoln waterfall grille. The exterior is elegant and graceful, but the most striking feature is the full-glass retractable roof. We’re not talking panoramic sunroof. The entire glass top slides back to give a convertible-like feel. Add the sleek interior which, Woolf says, was modeled after a suspension bridge, and Lincoln just may have a reason to stick around.
Paul A. Eisenstein is publisher of on the Internet.
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