The Mercedes S400h is a mild hybrid, unlike the full hybrid powertrain in the more expensive Lexus LS 600hL. (Daimler)
When Honda introduced its V-6 Accord Hybrid, both the marketing folks and public were confused. Weren’t hybrids supposed to be the ultimate “Econo Box?” The Accord Hybrid was thriftier than the gasoline model, but it wasn’t a mileage miser. It was a performance car; unfortunately, only a few folks realized and appreciated that, and even fewer bought the concept.
Now we have hybrids expanding across the automotive spectrum. Besides the strictly economy versions, you’ve got SUVs (Highlander and Lexus RX 400h) trucks (Silverado and Sierra 1500) and luxury vehicles (Escalade, Lexus LS 600hL).
What’s next? How about the Mercedes-Benz S400h? If mileage is your goal, it’s predicted to get 23 city/33 highway. The price will be north of $90,000.
Over the years, Mercedes has been a leader in introducing new facets of motor-vehicle technology. Now they’re coming in along with many others. My prediction is that they’ve waiting to make sure their system is seamless.
Oh yes, the lithium-ion battery pack is guaranteed for the life of the car.
A bit less expensive (under $35,000 MSRP) will be the Lexus HS 250h, expected to be (naturally) roomier, wider and longer than its sibling, the Toyota Prius. Lexus expects to sell about 25,000 in the United States in the coming model year.
Look for some interesting sales comparisons among Prius, Honda’s new Insight, and hybrid versions of Camry, Fusion (Milan), and Altima in the coming year.
And add Mazda to the party. The brand is looking to hybrid-ize its model lineup beyond the Tribute compact SUV.
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