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Cruising along on L.A. Auto Show road trip

CNET Car Tech goes on the road in a Lexus RX400h to the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.

RX400h interior
From the cockpit: The RX400h on the way to L.A. Corinne Schulze/CBS Interactive

The Los Angeles Auto Show starts Wednesday, and we are blasting down I-5 at 80 mph in a Lexus RX400h, taking a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We just passed the Los Banos exit, so we are well on our way. The nav system reports that we've got 264 miles to go. It also says we'll get to our hotel in 4 hours and 47 minutes, but I think we can do better than that, barring bad L.A. traffic.

Fortunately, we have three people in the car--editors Wayne Cunningham and Antuan Goodwin, and Corinne Schulze, our photographer--so we can use the commuter lanes. And our Lexus hybrid SUV won't mind the L.A. traffic too much, as it works best in start-stop conditions. We're not taking much advantage of the hybrid system right now, although we could draft the Hummer ahead of us. But the 3.3-liter V-6 in the Lexus is giving us 26.1 mpg, according to the trip computer, which certainly isn't bad.

RX400h back window
Lots of big trucks travel the I-5. Corinne Schulze/CBS Interactive

One of the first things we found in the Lexus was a lack of entertainment options. It has a fine Mark Levinson audio system and an in-dash DVD changer. But we all brought MP3 players, and the car has no hookup, not even an auxiliary jack, for external devices. Big disappointment when you're about to spend a good five hours in a car.

Worse yet, the satellite radio isn't optioned in this car, leaving us with good old AM/FM radio. Strangely enough, this stereo does have a cassette tape player, so we could use an MP3 player if we had one of those cheap adapters, but we expected better from Lexus.

One thing this RX400h does have is laser-based adaptive cruise control. Antuan is driving and has it set at a good speed for this freeway. We just came across one big truck passing another, and the car automatically slowed down to 60 mph, then got back up to speed when the road was clear again.

It's 2:17 p.m. and we have another 249 miles to go, and the freeway is looking all nice and repaved.

See all coverage of the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.