The L.A. Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center downtown runs through Sunday, January 15th.

The show theme is “hybrids and horsepower” and there sure are lots of each.

There are 30 new vehicle debuts, plus concept cars that come straight from science-fiction movies.

“Hybrid” is, of course, the latest buzz, what with fuel prices and environmental issues much at the forefront of today’s news.

The idea of vehicles that combine electric motors and fuel-efficient gasoline engines started with the Toyota Prius and Honda’s Civic and Accord.

But now the concept has spread to trucks and SUVs.

Another trend is the growing number of “crossover” vehicles that at times are hard to classify. Is it an SUV? A truck? A wagon?

Whatever works for the buyer seems to apply.

Now the Auto Show has six SUVs and/or trucks available as hybrids.

As for horsepower? How about the new Maybach 57S from Mercedes’ partner company AMG, which has more than 600 horses — 612 horsepower, if you must be picky — and a price tag that starts at $450,000? Add a few trinkets and it easily can climb to $475,000.

Why you need 600-plus horses on the 15-to-20-mile-an-hour San Diego Freeway was not explained, at least while we were standing there.

Frankly, we were more impressed with the Toyota Yaris, a new compact four-door that replaces the Toyota Echo, gets up to 40 miles a gallon on the highway and comes with a price tag down close to $12,000.

That makes a lot more sense for those of us who do drive the San Diego Freeway and have to commute.

At least you can get the Yaris in your garage.

Another neat car is the 2007 Volkswagen Eos, which has a folding hardtop roof just like the circa $70,000 Lexus SC430. But the Eos also has a sunroof and the Lexus SC430 doesn’t.

Lots of “practical” family cars and sporty ones you can afford are also on view at the Auto Show.

Still, much, if not most, of the attention at this week’s Auto Show was given to new muscle cars and concept cars that are — what our younger set would call — “eye candy.”

Oh, such toys for boys.

The 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show continues at the Los Angeles Convention Center through Sunday, January 15th. Tickets are $10; $7 for seniors 65 and over on weekdays. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Information, (213) 741-1151, ext. 1 or www.LAautoshow.com

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