Sporting a new front end, Lexus’ GS 450h is one classy, elegant sedan. It’s a bit larger (2 inches wider, 1.2 inches taller) than the previous model, but it’s also more fuel-efficient.
Aside from its striking good looks, the GS 450h can run on electric-only, gas-only or a combination of both as many hybrids do.
The GS 450h gets it basic power from a 3.5L, 286-hp V6 engine. In addition, its Electric Drive Motor kicks in with a 30kW, 41-hp electric motor powered by a metal hydride battery pack. In “Sport” mode, voltage is kicked up, which raises battery power to 52-hp for a total of 338-hp. Regenerative braking and improved cooling of the hybrid unit allows EPA mileage figures of 29 city, 34-highway mpg with a CVT transmission.
Like the Lexus RX350 Hybrid crossover, acceleration is quick. It’s been timed at 5.6 seconds for 0-60 mph. And there’s no want for power at highway passing speeds as well.
Lexus is noted for fine interiors and the 450h has an all-new design, and a luxurious one to boot. Starting with soft, supportive perforated leather seating fore and aft sporting ample under thigh support, they’re so comfortable that is can easily lull a driver during long trips.
The back seat is mainly for two adults since the center portion is hard and not suitable for three. Ingress/egress is easy thanks to wide opening rear doors.
Then there’s the new heated bamboo steering wheel and associated trim that is stunningly attractive. And if ordering the HDD GPS nav package ($1,735) with its huge 12.3 inch LCD split screen, you can retrace your route since the system shows a series of red dots (crumbs) to your starting location. If you’re like me and lose sense of direction quickly, this feature is really helpful. Of course this options’ high price also includes Lexus Enform App Suite, Bing, OpenTable (for restaurant reservations), MovieTickets.com, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Yelp, Facebook, Sirius XM NavWeather, NavTraffic Sports and Stocks.
Trunk space is larger than in the earlier model as Lexus situated the battery pack vertically instead of horizontally as on many similar hybrids. This results in about three cubic feet more cargo space. As such, it can accommodate one large roll-a-long suitcase or one golf bag with the long clubs stacked atop the bag.
Ride quality is exceptional and is helped by Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension system whereby the shocks constantly adapt to driving conditions and they’re driver-adjustable. Driver’s can also select Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes with the latter stiffening the shocks beyond the taut Sport mode and steering becomes heavier. The result is better handling when encountering sharp turns taken at speed. With its 4,190-pound curb weight, the car feels a bit heavy, yet it parks easily, especially with the help of a rearview camera.
Now here’s the part I don’t like about the GS. It’s based priced at $58,950 with an extremely long list of amenities and features that include everything anyone would want including a First Aid Kit. After adding Blind Spot Monitoring ($500), a Luxury Package ($5,205) that includes a whole list of goodies like 18-inch alloy wheels, leather, three-zone climate control, articulating backrest, rear door sunshades and enticingly more, plus the aforementioned Nav system, Intuitive Park Assist ($500), trunk mat/cargo net/wheel locks ($242) and gobs more, the bottom line reflected $68,007 including delivery of $875. You could go with the standard GS with V8 power and knock off 3K, but then mileage ratings would suffer.
I should add that U.S. News & World Report bestowed GS 450h with its “Best Hybrid SUV” rating for its combined quality and value. This is the second time it received this notable award.
To test-drive a GS 450h, stop by Lehigh Valley Lexus on Broadway Street in Cetronia. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.