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2014 Lexus GS 450h: Sensible fuel economy, sensational luxury

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The Lexus GS 450h is a large sedan that deftly combines fuel efficiency and luxury, an appealing combination for buyers on the hunt for a big car.

The GS was remade last model year and given a much more modern, striking style on the inside and out than the previously unremarkable version.

The hybrid system uses a 3.5-liter V-6 engine along with an electric motor which together make 338 horsepower. That power system is mated to a two-speed continuously variable transmission.

The resulting fuel economy from the system is impressive, at 29 mpg city, 34 highway. Keep in mind that while those numbers might not be eye-popping in the world of hybrids, this is a large sedan, and in that corner of the hybrid market, the GS is a fuel economy leader.

The GS 450h has a nice list of safety features, including parking assist, night vision, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, backup camera and stability and traction control.

But if great fuel economy and important safety features aren't enough to turn you on, check out the styling of the GS 450h.

The interior is gorgeous, highlighted by the genuine bamboo steering wheel and trim pieces across the doors and dash, which provide the look of an elegantly decorated lounge.

This car will comfortably seat five adults, with good head- and leg room.

You can enjoy a collection of technology features such as automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and a power rear sunshade.

You can opt to add Lexus's Enform system to connect your smart phone to the car's brain, and you may choose to add heated rear seats and a premium sound system with 17 speakers.

On the outside, a somewhat modified version of the spindle grille that Lexus is using frequently now gives the front fascia a more aggressive look.

The car also has dual exhaust pipes built into the rear bumper and LED daytime lights and tail lights.

Driving dynamics compare favorably with a number of other large, non-hybrid sedans, which is to say you won't perceive any weakness from the engine and handling is pretty good. The engine/electric motor's 338 horsepower is legitimate, acceleration is smooth and efficient and braking is assured. Of course, to maximize the fuel efficiency benefits of driving a hybrid, you won't want to put the GS 450h through its paces too often. But when you do, it responds nicely.

The GS 450h starts at a shade under $60,000 and ranges to around $70,000. Pricey, yes, but well worth it given all that it offers.

For attractive luxury and sensible fuel economy, the GS 450h is an outstanding choice.

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