The GS450h shares its design with the GS350, only giving up its identity with subtle touches like its optioned LED headlamps and blue highlighted emblems all around. At the rear, the Hybrid gets concealed tailpipes in lieu of the GS350’s large dual chrome tips.
The look remains both sporting and businesslike. Lexus has been able to bring drama to the GS with their new spindle grille design themes, but keeps it stately and tidy in silhouette.
Our tester had the Luxury Package with upgraded 19” wheels and really the look could only improve with the F-Sport package which isn’t offered on the Hybrid here in the States just yet. We can only hope.
Inside is likely one of the best cabins Lexus has offered to date. A veritable sea of fine leather and genuine bamboo, the GS450h is loaded with top-end technology and comforts – a list well to long to name here.
Highlights in ours included optional heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel with paddle shifters and a large LED center screen. The menus are all controlled by a console mounted mouse puck which works well and is easy to use on the go.
Fit and finish is the envy of the business and material quality is faultless regardless of where you look or your hand roams. Seats offer up excellent comfort both front and rear, never wearing on you on long drives.
The only area seemingly affected by the fact this is a hybrid is the trunk which gives up some of its space for a stacked nickel hydride battery pack which sits just over the rear suspension.
Behind the wheel, the GS450h is like that expensive hotel room with the bed you want to just stay in all day long. It’s got that high-end feel you paid for, the comfort and luxury backing up the gravitas that got your attention in the first place.
Handling is exceptionally neutral as front-rear weight balance is actually helped a bit by the rear-mounted hybrid battery. It feels substantial and it is with a curb weight of 4,190 lbs.
Ride is well damped and quiet at all times. Even here on our rough mountain road, the chassis never really got unsettled. The GS450h just provides a hushed an solid as rock driving experience regardless of the surface.
The electric power steering is as communicative as you can expect, and has a noticeable change in effort when you dial up the Sport + drive mode. The suspension also stiffens considerably in its damping by virtue of electronically adjustable struts.
In Sport+ the constantly variable transmission (CVT) has up to eight stepped simulated shift points accessible via the steering wheel mounted shift paddles or console gear lever. They will allow up and downshift steps for spirited driving which is fun, but they aren’t as crisp as genuine gear changes.
The Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive has 338 total system horsepower. Combined is a 286 horsepower Atkinson cycle version of the company’s 3.5-liter V6 engine and two electric motor generators. Lexus claims a zero-to-60 acceleration time of 5.6 seconds which feels about right.
The power-train can combine both the gasoline engine and electric motors for maximum power such as accelerating up hills. On coast and downhill stints, it can run on electric power alone or use momentum to actually charge the battery.
The system nets an EPA rate 29 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined which can be easily achieved if not beaten. All this having your cake and eating it too does come at a price. The GS450h starts at $59,600 – ours coming to just over $70,000 as optioned.
Though expensive, we like what Lexus has accomplished with the GS450h, effectively and exquisitely marrying the concepts of sport sedan with highly efficient hybrid.
It gives up little in the compromise. In the end, we had fun driving it and achieved 32.5 mpg combined, nothing to scoff at. For more news and test drives of hybrid or electric vehicles see our partner channel Motoring2.com.