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Most (and least) cost-effective hybrids

How much it costs to save a gallon of gas varies widely, even among closely-related vehicles.

Lexus LS600h L
Lexus LS600h L
Hybrid value rank: 13
Time to recoup premium in fuel savings alone: 3,771 years

Typical cost: $104,000

Compared to: Lexus LS460 L with "executive seating," upgraded sound system and performance suspension

Hybrid cost premium: $15,458

Overall mpg vs. non-hybrid: 21.3 vs. 21.3

Annual fuel savings: $3.09 (1 gallon)

Of course, no-one would actually buy the Lexus LS600h just to save money on gas. At least, we certainly hope they wouldn't. (If anyone did, we hope they got the really, really, really extended warranty.) Lexus sells this car as a more Lexus-like alternative to the performance luxury models offered by competitors like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, only Lexus uses a more efficient way to generate the extra power needed to haul the reclining, massaging rear seat and the little electric beverage cooler. In the non-hybrid version, those added luxuries would probably reduce fuel economy. So, buyers are paying $15,000 to feel not quite so guilty about their pleasures. Pass the free-range foie gras, would you, please?

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