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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2013 LEXUS GS 450h REVIEW


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2013 LEXUS GS 450h


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE GS 450h VEHICLE
Blending powerful hybrid performance with modern luxury is the redesigned Lexus GS 450h, a full-size sedan boasting V8 engine results out of a 3.5-liter V6 and a pair of electric motors with the promise of smooth rear-wheel driving dynamics and a fuel economy of 31 miles-per-gallon combined. The only hitch is the high price of going green.

I drove a 2013 Lexus GS 450h with the 3.5-liter gasoline-powered V6 engine and electric driver motor for a net total of 338 horsepower. Additional drivetrain brilliance includes an electronically controlled variable transmission with intelligence, standard Driver Mode Select and Adaptive Variable Suspension, and optional all-wheel drive. Available in one trim with optional packages, standard features include: heated and powered front seating; heated steering wheel; moonroof; dual-zone climate control; Lexus premium audio system; HD Radio; Bluetooth; XM Radio; power ear sunshade; Bi-Xenon headlights; seventeen-inch wheels. My test drive featured close to $10k in upgrades that included a Blind Spot Monitor, a Luxury Package (leather upholstery, upgraded steering wheel and seats), a Mark Levinson premium sound system, and a wide 12.3-inch split-screen display with navigation and a backup camera. Total vehicle price came to $67,939.

For 2013, the GS 450h has taken on a complete redesign that brings better handling, savvier style and fuel economy that sailed from a stale 23 miles-per-gallon to 31 combined. Main competitors are the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTEC and Infiniti M35h, also pairing green-minded powertrain technology with luxury.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The interior brilliantly combines exquisite materials with a logical layout. Passengers experience rich black leather upholstery contrasted by light tan bamboo inlays and cradling front seats, paired to a straightforward center stack design void of an excess of commands typically found on competitors. The mouse-like control located in the divider console has been revised; the mechanism now features a smoother circumference for an icon that floats with better precise across the wider display screen. The rear seats feature a tilted design that serves car seats better.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) considers the Lexus GS family to be a Top Safety Pick. It is not yet rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety equipment includes an advanced airbag system, vehicle stability control, ABS, brake assist, traction control, and VDIM.

Cost Issues: The base price of a Lexus GS 450h with rear-wheel drive is $47,250, but to be wowed, it requires $10k in optional packages. It’s troublesome to justify the price considering it would take close to twenty years to pay off the premium of owning such a hybrid.

Activity & Performance Ability: Unlike any hybrid I’ve ever driven, the Lexus GS 450h combines a deft blend of exhilarating power, adaptable suspension, and engaging driving modes (ECO, Normal and Sport) for truly noticeable throttle responses – you’ve likely never experienced a 31 miles-per-gallon ride this smooth and forceful.

The Green Concern: While 29 miles-per-gallon city and 34 highway for a combined 31 is an achievement for a full-size sedan possessing such caliber, the price of owning unfortunately doesn’t equate to the smartest economic hybrid vehicle choice.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2013 Lexus GS 450h sedan impresses with its remarkable power, leaps in fuel economy, superb handling and luxurious appointments – yet for those seeking to conserve finances and the environment, the high cost of owning is a dubious decision.

2013 Katrina Ramser