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2014 Lexus GS450h Quick Take

By Keith Buglewicz on January 31, 2014 4:43 PM
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In my opinion, this is the best car Lexus currently makes. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that it's the best car Lexus has ever made, LFA notwithstanding. It looks great, drives even better than it looks, feels luxurious inside, is high-tech where it needs to be, and pleasingly old-school in a few ways, too.

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The GS is filled with gadgets, like Enform with its various apps. It also has a huge screen on the dash to display its various tricks, and a clever mouse-like shuttle that you use to click around on the screen, combining the aspects of touch-screen and knob-based systems. It's neat, but after using it a while, I'm not sure it's better than either, just different.  On the old-school side, I particularly like the bamboo wood trim, including the bamboo steering wheel. Normally I'm not a fan of low-gloss wood, but this smooth blonde applique looks just right in this interior, a modern twist on a classic luxury cue.

Also: 2014 Compact Cars at a glance

But Lexus has never been short on luxury trappings, so that's nothing new. It's the way this car drives that really sets it apart from the rest of the Lexus pack, and the rest of its competition, too. Hybrid or not, this thing scoots in a way you don't expect. The V6 produces a satisfying growl under full throttle, and the paddle shifters do an admirable job of faking gear changes from the continuously variable automatic transmission. Put it in Sport S+ mode, and the hybrid energy-use gauge transforms into a proper tachometer, while a cutaway of the car appears on the main screen, the engine and suspension glowing an ominous red. It's not just for show though, as this big Lexus has the kinds of moves we used to associate with the BMW 5 Series. It's a driver's car, pure and simple, but it's also a fantastic luxury cruiser, with the unique look and commanding road presence a high-end sedan demands. For me, I rank it higher than competitive sedans from its European competition, not because of price or value, but simply because it's better on its own merits.

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