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And the answer is: 2014 Lexus GS 450h!

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As one who writes published articles on cars, restaurants and travel, quite often I am asked: "Which is your favorite (car, restaurant, destination)?

Well, last weekend, I had a birthday. Although I remained close to home, throughout that entire weekend, I did things I like to do such as hiking and hanging out at the lake, eating a few cool restaurants and driving a hot whip. But it was not just any hot whip, I drove the 2014 Lexus GS 450h, with the "h" standing for hybrid.

It was back in November of 2011, the weekend following a Thanksgiving I will always remember due to the departure of my very best friend and confidant who had suffered an 11-month battle with breast cancer--triple negative to be exact. When it was over that Monday, the folks at Toyota/Lexus flew me in to Las Vegas to experience the now fourth generation GS, for model year 2012.

With accommodations at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Las Vegas--one of my all time favorite hotel brands, Lexus got the ball rolling the following morning with a classroom tutorial on the all new GS. An hour later, we were heading off to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. On that sunny day, alongside the new GS awaited a Mercedes Benz E-Class, a BMW 5-Series and an A6 by Audi.

Up until this time, I felt confident in my experience with German luxury brands to know that while the Lexus may be able to keep up, Japanese engineering-- which feels completely unique to German brands, would not out perform any of the other models on the track. At that point in time, the Japanese brands were more known for their cushy feel and luxury cache--not so much performance as with the Germans brands, which often tend to score high in both areas. Still, it seemed like a great day to be on the track.
On the track alongside the 2012 Lexus GS KILLED IT! It's handling was solid, yet so agile. Acceleration was smooth and simply superfluous in every aspect including a super smooth shifting of gears. In terms of design, both inside and out, it was simply gorgeous.
Months later--February of 2012 to be exact, I got my first chance to spend an entire week behind the wheel of the 2012 GS...Again, it was love at first sight! The look, the feel, the touch...pure euphoria! Write ups for it appeared in Hombre Magazine, where the publisher commented, "Wow, you really like that car, don't you!"

Later that year I got the chance to experience the GS 450h for model year 2013. Again, I was blown away by the performance and a bit of tweaking on the styling along with other enhancements.

Fast forward, last weekend's time spent in the 2014 GS 450h was in preparation of car reviews for April's Earth Day in Hombre Magazine, Harlem World Magazine, here at my blog, as well as my auto column at www.examiner.com. Nevertheless, I can tell you that I smiled like a fat kid over a whole cake all weekend long while seated behind the wheel heading to Murphy's for dinner on Friday, followed by laser tag at Stars and Strikes in Sandy Springs, then live jazz at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead. And by Sunday, when temperatures were in the low 70's, the drive to Lake Allatoona was simply the icing on the cake.

Bottom-line here, which is also something I said to a buddy who rode shotgun with me on Sunday: If I were in the market for a new car in the base price range of, say $60K, fully pimped out at $70K, it would definitely be a performance based hybrid or a diesel vehicle. And with the powerful, sublime 2014 Lexus GS 450h's killer performance, looks and combined fuel economy rating of 31-miles per gallon combined (29 city/34 highway), hands down, it would be amongst the top two contenders!

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