Luxury hybrids are about more than mere efficiency. Even so, the midsize GS 450h sedan tries hard not to disappoint buyers who expect high mileage from any hybrid, no matter how many other virtues it presents. No, a GS 450h is hardly the most thrifty hybrid on the market. Regardless, we think seriously eco-conscious folks will agree that the GS 450h does justice to the original intent of hybrid power: using significantly less fuel than a comparable regular model. Lexus also offers three conventional gasoline-engine GS versions: GS 350, and new GS 200t and GS F.
What's New for 2016
Some significant changes have occurred for the 2016 model year. Front fascias have been revised and rocker panels are new, while bi-LED headlights and arrowhead-shaped daytime running lights have been added. Machine-finished, five-spoke 18-inch wheels are new.
Navigation now is standard on the GS 450h. Multimedia features have been enhanced, including an available 12.3-inch screen. A revised Remote Touch Interface should make it easier to control primary functions, and Siri Eyes Free integration can provide Apple users with turn-by-turn directions. New Lexus Safety System + includes pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert is standard.
Choosing Your Lexus GS 450h
The GS 450h is neither a strict performance hybrid nor a miser on fuel. With a swift zero-to-60 mph acceleration time of 5.6 seconds and an EPA-estimated fuel-economy rating of 31 mpg in combined city/highway driving, it's a carefully balanced example of a mainstream luxury sedan. More specifically, the GS 450h is estimated at 29 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway, versus no more than 20/29 mpg for a GS 350.
Working together, the 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors produce total output of 338 horsepower. The gas engine itself develops 286 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. Also aboard is a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, mounted in the trunk area. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Technical features include an adaptive variable suspension system and selectable shock-absorber damping.
The GS 450h cabin contains leather-trimmed seat upholstery, ventilated and heated front seats with a driver’s memory, keyless ignition with pushbutton start, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, a power rear sunshade, and a 12-speaker surround-sound system with CD player and satellite and HD radio. The navigation system uses a 12.3-inch screen. Other standard fare includes automatic wipers, a sunroof, LED exterior lighting, heated auto-dimming outside mirrors, Bluetooth phone and audio, padded instrument panel, laser cut wood trim, and 18-inch five-spoke wheels. You also get vehicle-monitoring smartphone apps.
The F Sport version of the GS 450h gets 19-inch split-five-spoke wheels, an F Sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension with Sport S+ mode, larger front brakes, variable gear-ratio steering, aluminum pedals and interior trim, black headliner, and sportier trim throughout. Up front, the grille gets a mesh insert. Dynamic Rear Steering also is included.
The available Lexus Safety System + includes pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, “intelligent” high beams, and lane-departure alert with steering assist.
Options for the GS 450h include a head-up display, an automated parallel-parking system, heated rear seat, power trunk opener, and 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
Like other luxury hybrids, the GS 450h carries more standard equipment than its conventional counterparts. Adding the Luxury package is tempting, but not really essential. Likewise for the F Sport treatment, which doesn't have an appreciable impact on performance but should enhance handling with its tauter suspension. We’d rather spend our options budget on the available safety tech features, which you can choose as you like.