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Efficient concept cars frontload Paris Motor Show

The 2012 Paris Motor Show opens this weekend, and ahead of the show we have seen numerous previews of concept cars using hybrid and electric power trains. Carbon dioxide reduction is a huge issue in Europe, and automakers are showing off their latest research into vehicles that can give people the transportation options to which they have become accustomed, yet meet new emissions specifications. The win-win for Europeans is that these vehicles get much improved fuel economy in a regions with notoriously high gasoline prices.

Here are just a few of the cars we expect to see during the 2012 Paris Motor Show. … Read more

Five hybrid cars: The newest gas-electric fuel-sippers

Hybrid drive systems in modern cars store what would otherwise be wasted kinetic energy from braking, making it available to supplement the work of the gasoline engine. These hybrid cars get much better fuel economy than their gasoline-only equivalents, and, due to regenerative braking, reduce brake pad wear. Although the Prius is the hybrid poster car, many other types of hybrid cars exist today, meeting the American buyers' variety of needs.

Here are five of the latest hybrids hitting the market. … Read more

The five most connected cars

You only need to look at a smartphone to realize the usefulness of an Internet connection in a car. And the advent of smartphones is playing a big part in getting automakers to integrate connected features. People used to looking up an address on a smartphone can now do it right in their car's dashboard, and save that address to the navigation system. Other apps that can come in handy on the road, as deemed by these automakers, bring up Internet radio, social networking, and dinner reservations.… Read more

2013 Lexus GS 450h review: Green lightning

It may not be quite as green as the Tesla Model S, but I was gratified to see the range-o-meter showing over 500 miles as I cruised the Lexus GS 450h up and down California freeways. And I was surprised how well it got down and dirty on some curvy mountain roads.

The GS 450h manages to show how technology can make a car get decent fuel economy while also turning in great driving performance. It's no track-day car, but Lexus' new focus on handling lets it eat up the turns. Thank you, adaptive-suspension technology.

Lexus' hybrid system remains … Read more

Drop the top on these 7 types of convertibles

Summer is upon us, which means that it's officially open-air motoring season. However, not all cabriolets are created equal; there are actually many different types of convertibles to choose from. We've rounded up seven of the most obvious convertible classes and the best examples of each. … Read more

Mothers' Day cars: Beyond the soccer mom

A kernel of truth lies at the core of most stereotypes. Certainly mothers across the country trawl suburban streets in minivans, picking up kids from school and delivering them to various extracurricular activities, including the art of kicking a ball into a net. But the moms we know encompass a much greater variety, too much for one simple stereotype. So we considered nine other mom stereotypes, matching the cars most appropriate for them. … Read more

2013 Lexus GS 350: An aggressive new package

Long battling a reputation for luxury without performance, Lexus released the IS-F and LFA models, both cars of limited appeal. Now the company offers convincing performance on a more popular platform, the new GS 350.

The F Sport package for the GS 350 makes all the difference, adding aggressive tuning to both engine and transmission, along with an adaptive suspension. This is no mere cosmetic package. Thus equipped, the GS 350 shows impressive handling and gear-holding up to high revs.

Lexus also took a techie leap forward in the cabin, fitting the car with a huge, 12.3-inch LCD to … Read more

The hybrid premium: How much more does a hybrid car cost?

Ever since hybrids became popular, with the second generation of the Toyota Prius, the question arose of whether the fuel savings justified a hybrid car's higher price. The extra expense for a hybrid car has been called the hybrid premium.

The extra cost for a hybrid car comes from the additional equipment in the driveline. Along with the gas engine, hybrid cars have an electric propulsion motor, a high-voltage battery pack, and a power control module, this latter component determining how to feed electric power into the drive system.

Now, with many automakers offering some type of hybrid car, … Read more

Automaker innovation: 10 best concept cars

Concept cars make up our favorite displays at international auto shows. These cars show off the latest thinking within design departments, and often contain new ideas in cabin and power-train technology.

The latest season was particularly satisfying, featuring the return of an icon, promising new production-intent vehicles, excellent styling, and low- or zero-emission technology. … Read more

2013 Lexus GS 350, 450h: A tale of two sport sedans

Every year at the Western Automotive Journalists' annual Media Days at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, there's at least one large sedan that surprises me with its on-track poise. Last year, that car was the Acura TL SH-AWD, but this year it was the 2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport that left me scratching my head.

2013 GS 350 F-Sport

The last time I found myself behind the wheel of a Lexus GS, it was back in 2008 when a GS 450h hybrid surprised me with its straight-line performance and understated, muscular stying. The newest 2013 Lexus GS is anything but … Read more