By KBB.com Editors
Lexus engineers had several goals for the industry's first high-performance hybrid rear-wheel-drive sedan. First was to deliver the performance of a modern 4.5-liter V8 with the fuel economy of a 2.0-liter engine with four cylinders. Second, the emissions were to be 80-percent cleaner than those of an average car. Third, the noise level during electric-mode operation was to be one-half of that during normal engine operation, a goal achievable due to redesigned fans and motors. And, finally, the acceleration from zero to 60 mph was to be as quick as a Porsche 911 with a Tiptronic transmission. By all accounts, the engineers were successful. The notion of using the attributes of a hybrid powertrain to achieve exemplary performance in a rear-wheel drive, luxury sports sedan can be expected to cause quite a stir, and we found that the GS 450h lives up to its promise. It delivers a big dose of performance, it's quiet, it's as comfortable as you would expect of a Lexus and it has all the environmentally friendly qualities for which people buy hybrids.You'll Like This Car If...
If you want the quality, luxury and prestige of a Lexus, and you want to be in front of the crowd in performance, technology and environmental awareness, the GS 450h is for you.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you tend to be skittish about new technologies, then maybe you should wait before stepping into the hybrid market. Also keep in mind that with hybrids, eco-consciousness comes at a pricethe MSRP is $55,595.What's Significant About This Car? Driving It Driving Impressions
The Lexus GS 450h delivers impressive driving credentials. Its ride is seamless; it's smooth, fast, luxurious and hear-a-pin-drop quiet. The GS 450h accelerates eagerly, corners with precision, and handles with supreme ease. In this vehicle you feel both the excellence of Lexus engineering and a goodwill approach to the environment.Favorite Features
The Hybrid Synergy Drive
The GS 450h is quiet, fast and responsive. We attribute most of this to the 3.5-liter V6 engine combined with the two newly engineered electric motors.
Interior Pull-Down Panel
To the left of the steering wheel is a nifty pop-out panel that conceals numerous controls in a highly organized manner, and allows for a cleaner appearance to the interior in the bargain.
The interior has all the expected luxury appointments in a user-friendly arrangement, with dials and gauges within easy reach and laid out in a clean configuration. Lexus also applied just the right amount of high-end wood and leather accents. The extremely comfortable heated and ventilated front seats offer 10-way power adjustment and integrated armrests for both driver and passenger, and all seats have height-adjustable head rests. A handy drop-down panel located to the left of the steering wheel conceals controls for the outside mirrors, fuel lid opener, trunk release, instrument panel brightness control, odometer/trip reset, headlamp washer, rear sunshade, park assist and interior lights. We also liked the sleek glove compartment which flipped open with the touch of a button. The back seat might be a bit snug for those with long legs, but the trunk will accept loads of luggage.Exterior
The newest hybrid from Lexus has a smooth and sleek shape, with an arching roofline, high belt line and long hood. The hybrid badging on the lower rear-door molding is discreet, while the large, exposed dual exhaust with stainless steel tips and the 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels are bold. Color-keyed mirrors, LED combination rear lamps and what Lexus calls "slingshot-shaped" rear windows combine with a lowered hood and a wider rear tread to give the GS 450h a wide, sporty stance.Notable Standard Equipment
As you would expect of a Lexus, the GS 450h does not skimp on standard equipment, and includes some ingenious creature comforts. The seven-inch informational touch screen has good resolution and is quite user friendly. The push button for starting the engine is a neat touch. Bluetooth wireless telephone capability is factory-installed. Standard equipment also includes a memory system for driver and front passenger seat adjustments, a power trunk closer, an adaptive front headlamp system, ventilated and heated leather power seats, AM/FM/six-disc in-dash CD, moonroof, rear sunshade, headlight washers, adaptive suspension and rear backup camera. Standard safety-related features include driver, front-passenger, knee, side and side-curtain airbags, Antilock Braking System (ABS), Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electronic Power Steering (EPS).Notable Optional Equipment
The option list is not complicated. You can outfit the GS 450h with XM satellite radio, a 14-speaker Mark Levinson stereo with DVD audio/video capability and the Lexus DVD-based navigation system. Other notable options include a rear spoiler, all-season run-flat tires (with or without a spare tire) and a pre-collision system with dynamic radar cruise control.Under the Hood
The Hybrid Synergy Drive consists of a 3.5-liter all-aluminum V6, rated at 292 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, and two electric motors generating a peak or 197 horsepower; the combined rating is 339 horsepower. According to Lexus, the GS 450h accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, with maximum torque available immediatelywhich means there's virtually no delay for passing or avoiding obstacles on the road.
3.5-liter V6 with High-Output Electric-Drive Motor
292 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
267 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/27
The GS 450h has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $55,595. The closest sedan for comparison purposes is the Lexus GS 430 with an MSRP of $52,070; however, while the GS 430 has a V8 engine, it is not as powerful as the GS 450h and, of course, the GS 430 is not a hybrid.