Lexus’ GS450h hybrid has been completely redesigned for 2013, and the changes are significant both inside and out. While few expect a luxury hybrid to have impressive mileage and deliver rousing performance, Lexus has managed to pull it off with its combination of a 3.5 liter V6 and twin electric motors. EPA city ratings are 29mpg with a highway rating of 34mpg and 31mpg combined. A total of 338hp is routed through a CVT (continuously variable transmission) to the rear wheels, resulting in a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds (Car & Driver data) which is impressive for a 4100+ lb sedan.
The test vehicle for this review was the 2013 GS450h, with a base price of $58,950 and a total MSRP of $68,007. Major options included were the Luxury Package ($5,205) HDD Navigation ($1,735) Park Assist ($500) and Blind Spot Monitor ($500).
The GS450h is the hybrid version of the GS350, and as such comes with an extensive list of standard equipment including: 17-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, adjustable drive settings, adaptive LED headlights, LED running lights, heated and auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, a sunroof and keyless ignition/entry. Inside the cabin you get cruise control, “S-flow” automatic climate control (which focuses air only to occupied seats),
heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats with lumbar adjustment, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, a heated power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a power rear sunshade. Bluetooth phone connectivity, text-to-speech text messaging, Lexus’ Safety Connect emergency communications service, a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an
iPod/USB audio interface round out the entertainment and communications equipment.
The Luxury Package includes: 18” wheels, Bi-LED headlamps with adaptive front lighting system, heated wood & leather trimmed steering wheels, three-zone auto climate control, 18-way power front seats with power adjustable 4-way lumbar and rear-door sunshades. (power rear window sunshade standard) The HDD Navigation options adds a 12” high resolution split screen multimedia display and Lexus Enform with eDestination, App Suite, SiriusXM NavWeather, and NavTraffic. Stand-alone options include a rearview camera, an automated parallel parking system, an active lane-departure prevention system, adaptive cruise control and a pre-collision warning system, night vision system, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and a head-up display.
The GS 450h comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Also standard is the Lexus Safety Connect system, which includes automatic collision notification, an emergency assist button and stolen vehicle location services. The changes to the GS450h include the interior, which has seen a complete makeover. Soft leather and wood & aluminum trim fill the cabin, which offers greater head- shoulder- and rear seat hiproom than the old GS450.
Trunk space is enlarged to 13.2 cubic feet, thanks to a repackaging of the hybrid battery pack, although it’s a bit on the small side for a midsize luxury car. Exterior styling has transformed the car from one that was easily lost in a crowd to a standout. The design of the front end can be polarizing, but does go well with the car’s more aggressive look and stance.
On the road, the GS hybrid is exceptionally quiet, as one would expect. The battery-only EV mode will allow travel up to around 30mph, but over that the engine takes over. This process is barely felt, but indicated by the left-hand gauge changing from “eco” to “power” range. The addition of the hybrid’s electric motors make passing at highway speed a non-event. The power response is almost turbo-like in its delivery. The ride from the
adaptive suspension is comfortable during normal maneuvers, and is constantly adjusting to road conditions to provide the smoothest ride possible. It dispenses with the mushy feel of the previous car and instead keeps the car planted. Lexus’ system is driver-adjustable, and includes Normal, Sport and Sport Plus and Eco settings. These settings also control steering effort, stability control operations and throttle response.
All told, the GS hybrid does pretty much everything well, and some things exceptionally so. The car can be surprisingly quick one moment and miserly the next. What remains for the buyer is the justification for choosing the hybrid over the base GS350. With similar equipment, the GS450 is almost $12,000 more than the GS350, which makes the hybrid hard to justify on price alone. Lexus does luxury as well as anyone, but other competitors like Infiniti’s M35 hybrid, and even Mercedes’ E350 BlueTEC diesel become tempting alternatives at this price point. The reality is the GS450h competes in a busy segment of the luxury market, and highlights the fact that there is a price to pay for fuel-saving hybrid technology in a luxury car.
For more detailed model information, visit http://www.lexus.com/models/GS/hybrid.
Next review: Nissan Altima 2.5 SV