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2014 Lexus GS 450h hybrid: Performance with luxury and economy

2014 Lexus GS 450h - coupe-like profile is deceiving
2014 Lexus GS 450h - coupe-like profile is deceiving
austinautoboomer by permission

2014 Lexus GS 450h

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The 2014 Lexus GS 450h has stepped performance and improved economy while continuing to deliver the Lexus luxury look and amenities for the discriminating mid-size luxury sedan driver.

GS 450 acts more like a V8 than a V6 hybrid
austinautoboomer by permission

Powered by the Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive system that delivers 338 total system horsepower through its Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) with intelligence that has been newly tuned to closely emulate the shift ranges of an 8-speed transmission – it delivers more powerful acceleration and improved fuel economy for 2014. Lexus says that the 2014 Lexus GS 450h with rear-wheel drive will run 0-60 mph right at 5.6 seconds while delivering fuel economy of 29/34 mpg City/Highway with an expected 31 mpg average.

After spending a week in a, very well loaded up, Riviera Red 2014 Lexus GS 450h sedan, we can assure you that - though this is a hybrid – we were impressed how it performed more like a luxury V8 sports sedan than it did a V6 hybrid.

The GS 450h hybrid drive system combines the output of an Atkinson cycle 3.5-liter V6 engine with a water-cooled permanent magnet electric motor driving through the planetary-type continuously variable transmission. The gas engine and electric motor drive the rear wheels independently or in parallel as needed with exceptionally smooth precision for quick acceleration and responsive power and handling on both city and highway roadways.

To maximize performance, the new GS 450h is also equipped with the Lexus Drive Mode selector which provides five driving modes to the driver that varies the performance from along a range from economy to sports car – depending on the driver preference.

Two of the modes focus on fuel economy. ECO mode sets throttle mapping, seat heating and climate control systems to prioritize energy conservation. When driving in ECO mode, instrument meter lighting changes to blue. The EV mode allows the vehicle to be driven short distances, under certain circumstances, using only the electric motor.

NORMAL mode offers a balance of efficiency and performance response that’s ideal for everyday driving and yields the smoothest driving experience.

Those who follow our reviews of vehicles will already know that we prefer the SPORT S and SPORT S+ modes – particularly as SPORT mode boosts performance through measured sharper throttle response and transmission control that mimics the stepped shifting of an eight-speed automatic transmission (the 2013 version had just six steps). To highlight this range – in addition to the driving experience change – the Instrument meter lighting changes to red when driving in SPORT S mode.

When you select the SPORT S+ mode, you are taking the GS 450h up a serious notch as it engages a special sport setting for the Adaptive Variable Suspension, electric power steering system and Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM). Running on optional nine-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires that seriously attack the road, it goes without saying that we spent a lot of time with this GS 450h in Sport S+ mode as we navigated the winding Hill Country roads of Central Texas.

The 2014 Lexus GS 450h hybrid sedan delivers all of that performance with refined comfort and luxury style in the very spacious cabin that benefits (compared to other hybrid sedans) from its nickel-metal hydride battery pack that utilizes a stack design to maintain cabin space with no reduction of trunk space. Even with its coupe-like profile, the Lexus GS 450h provides greater rear headroom, knee room, and legroom and foot space than in the previous GS, now in a sleeker package.

The cabin of our Lexus GS 450h was luxuriously appointed with a superbly executed Flaxen Leather Matte Bamboo interior that included standard 10-way power front seats with the rear seats trimmed also in the soft perforated leather. The GS 450h comes with additional standard luxury features, including heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade and a high-intensity interior heater. Other luxury features included the bamboo wood trim accents throughout, bamboo and leather heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade, manual rear side-shades, one-touch open/close moon roof, padded instrument panel, LED ambient lighting and contrast stitching on all of the soft touch material areas.

The Lexus GS 450h cabin is kept very comfortable by the new energy-saving S-Flow automatic climate control system that detects if there is a front passenger and directs airflow only to the occupied front seat or seats. It also features the Climate Concierge feature that personalizes climate control for the occupants. The system automatically monitors the temperature of three separate climate zones and adjusts not only the fans, but also the temperature of the seats and steering wheel according to preset preferences.

All of the technology that you would need or want is also in the new GS 450h. It includes an integrated Siri Eyes Free Mode that is compatible the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 models forward, Siri lets you call contacts, select and play music from iTunes, get turn-by-turn navigation through Siri and Apple maps, and much more. To help keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, Siri can read notifications, read calendar information and allow you to add reminders, calendar appointments and notes.

Infotainment is managed by the next-generation Remote Touch with one-push confirmation that enables smooth, intuitive control of climate, audio, phone, the navigation system and more. A standard rear back-up camera adds security and convenience. A vibrant high-resolution control display provides easy access to a multitude of vehicle features and our GS 450h with the optional navigation system, added a really impressive 12.3-inch multimedia display with split-screen capability.

Our GS 450h also was equipped with Lexus Enform service with Destination Assist and eDestination. The companion Lexus App Suite came with the (awesome) Mark Levinson Premium Surround Audio System that is powered with an 835-watt amplifier, has 17 speakers and 7.1-channel speaker architecture with DVD audio/video capability. The Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System provided a truly concert hall-like sound experience in the luxury cabin of our GS 450h.

Our test 2014 Lexus GS 450h had a MSRP of $59,600. Major optional features included the Luxury Package for $5,255, the HDD Navigation with 12.3-inch split screen color display for $1,735 and the Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System for $1,380. Completing the package were the Blind Spot Monitor ($700), Intuitive Park Assist ($500) and One Touch Power Trunk ($400). With a couple of other accessories and delivery, this GS 450h priced at $70,649.