SEATTLE, November 4, 2014 — Lexus/Toyota has been leading the Hybrid charge for years now and its expertise in the field of Hybrid technology seems to know no bounds. This 2014 GS450h represents an elegant blend of top-notch technology, great fuel economy, power and ride quality.
The philosophy behind the power of the GS450h is summarized in this quote from the Hybrid Project General Manager of Lexus, Yutaka Taga. He said, “When drivers press down on the accelerator, they will find that the response of the car firmly matches their intention. At 338 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds, it appears they have achieved Mr. Taga’s goal.
The transmission is a CVT unit that has 8 pre-programed shift points and does include a manual mode. Far from being a fan of CVT, I must admit, this one shifts rather well and for most drivers, it provides very adequate response.
Lexus has put a great deal of research into the development of this Hybrid drive-system and the dividends sure seemed to have pay off in both the amount of horsepower generated and the added fuel economy. With the V6, we see V8-like performance numbers with fuel economy that goes well into the low to mid 30s. On a trip to Eastern Washington, we averaged about 35mpg. While that isn’t ultra-ground breaking, it’s actually quite phenomenal when one considers the weight, size and class of vehicle the GS450h is.
It’s the first rear-wheel drive full-hybrid vehicle in the world with all of the power and luxury one would expect from Lexus. Its 3.5-liter V6 runs on unleaded and is matched with a high-output permanent-magnet electric motor. Its performance is liken to many V8s on the market but its real-world fuel economy is what really sets it apart amongst many in its peer group.
Although the front fascia of the current Lexus line-up can be a bit polarizing, it’s hard to mistake it for any other car. It has a unique assertive look to it that seems to blend in well with the surrounding body lines.
Inside, there is standard “Lexus luxury” that is rampant and features the same control mechanism that we find in its higher-end vehicles. It’s a sort of “track-knob” if you will. It behaves a bit like a computer track-ball in that it moves around an on-screen cursor that allows the user to somewhat easily navigate around. The key word here is, “somewhat” as there is a bit of a learning curve involved before one can feel more at-home with the control.
The large screen on the infotainment center is quite large, easy to read and rather easy to use. There’s support for AM/FM, Satellite Radio, CD, Mp3/WMA and Bluetooth audio. Its on-board navigation system is good but still is relatively outdated looking compared to the Google Earth system found in the cars from Audi.
Audio quality from the Mark Levinson system is very good but also not superb. While I realize it may be a difficult pill to swallow, there are better-sounding audio systems in cars in this peer group and those that are priced less. Overall, however, most owners will find that it’s more than adequate.
On a 5-hour round-trip we took in the GS450h, the car proved to be very comfortable, accommodating and not fatiguing in any way. Ride quality is very good as the car dampened all but the most extreme of road bumps very well and the cabin remained rather quiet. Ride quality is adjustable thought the vehicles on-board control knob that’s on the middle console. Drivers have their choice of: “ECO, Normal and Sport”.
The only issue, if we’re splitting hairs here, is the overall cornering in that the car feels as if it leans a bit much in some of the harder corners but those aren’t the norm and as a daily driver, the car is just dandy. Additionally, a non-CVT transmission option would be wonderful.
Fit and finish is, of course, top-notch with gorgeous stitched leather, soft surfaces and seats that are both supportive and comfortable. Lexus’ use of bamboo wood panels throughout the cabin really do provide an upscale look that’s both elegant and contemporary. Leg room in the rear passenger area is ample and can handle two adults with a good deal of comfort and headroom. Like most sedans that have a “middle seat”, the one here should also be reserved for kids only.
There’s really little to fault this car about as it does “fire on all cylinders” considering the class of vehicle it is, price and driving experience. It starts at $60,430 and goes up from there, depending on added features you’d like which can add up to an additional $15,000 on.
If you’re in the market for a wonderful luxury cruiser that gets great fuel economy, then be sure to check out the 2014 Lexus GS450h.