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2013 Lexus GS 450h Review By John Heilig

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2013 Lexus GS 450h

By John Heilig
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

2013 Lexus GS Sport RWD Sedan

Model: 2013 Lexus GS 450h
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 286 hp @ 6,000 rpm, Electric BHP, 180 (338 total hp) /254 lb.-ft. @ 4,600 rpm
Transmission: Electronic CVT
Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
Length x Width x Height: 190.7 x 72.4 x 57.3 in.
Tires: P225/50R17
Cargo: 13.2 cu. ft.
Economy: 29 mpg city/34 mpg highway/31.5 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gal.
Curb Weight: 4,190 lbs.
Sticker: $68,007 (includes $875 delivery charge, $7,982 in options ($5,205 for luxury package))

The Bottom Line: You may question the logic of making a hybrid luxury car (I did), but nothing is lost with the Lexus GS 450h and a lot is gained – better low-end torque and great fuel economy versus the standard version. Is it worth the bogey in cost? I guess if you can afford the car…

I have been in the middle of a run of hybrid cars. Most have been the “standard” hybrids, small compact or subcompact cars that you EXPECT to be economical.

This week, however, we’re in a Lexus GS 450h, which definitely is NOT your average hybrid. The GS 450h is a midsize car that, in normal guise, is known better as a performance vehicle. And with the hybrid option, it doesn’t lose any performance. The electric drive motor with Lexus Hybrid Drive adds 50 hp to the package while increasing fuel economy significantly. The GS 450h is a very nice performance car on top of a smooth riding sedan.

On long Interstate trips, for example, there are few better. On winding roads and hillclimbs you can use the paddle shifters and almost feel as if you’re driving a four-door sports car. The transmission has two settings – Sport and Normal – and our hillclimb run was with the switch set at normal. Imagine what it might have been like in sport. The tranny also has EV and Sport modes. In EV, the speed for electric drive is so low that it’s almost useless, and being a mid-summer test, we didn’t check the snow mode.

The front seats are comfortable, although my wife had problems with the headrest on her side. I didn’t have a problem, so it may be a height issue. The front seats are heated and cooled, in full compliance with the luxury side of the car.

While we’re at it, the rear seats have good leg room. They also have good side support. The fold down arm rest between the rear seats has audio and heating and cooling choices.

As is also befitting the GS 450h luxury side; the interior is nicely appointed with matte bamboo trim and black leather on the dash and console. The large, unobtrusive infotainment screen is controlled with a “mouse” on the console that’s fun to use. There are simulated detents as you scroll around the screen.

In the middle of the dash is an analog clock, a la Infiniti. With all the information on the screen it was hard to find the digital clock, so the analog clock proved to be more useful than I would have expected.

The navigation system is easy to program. We used it to set it for three different sites on a day trip and it was so easy to use that we used it more than we usually do. We could have used Toyota’s Enform, but I like doing it myself when I have the time.

There’s the standard menu of audio choices, with the USB connection in the console. Additionally, the HVAC system did a good job of keeping us cool in hot weather.

The power rear window shade and the manual side window shades created a sense of privacy as well as kept the hot sun out of the rear seats.

The GS 450h has a good trunk that not only held a pair of golf bags; it also held all our accessory bags. The trunk has tie downs that help secure anything you have back there.

The Lexus GS 450h has a nice combination of power and economy. It has the economy of a hybrid for regular driving, but it also has the power of a luxury car with the added boost of the electric motor to give it an edge over the “standard” GS 450.

EDITOR’S NOTE: My family car is a 2010 Lexus RX 450h, so I am very familiar with driving a Lexus hybrid. I wanted you all to know that driving the hybrid version of the RX “feels” better to me, smoother, heavier and quieter. In fact a couple of months ago I was provided with a 2013 RX 350 to test while in Denver, and although it was a great ride I liked the hybrid better. Lexus tells me that this difference shouldn’t be, but it is. Test drive both the IC and hybrid versions of a Lexus model you are considering for purchase and I’m sure that you will agree with me that there is more to a Lexus hybrid than just the green warm and fuzzies…it rides better.

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