Review Lexus GS 450h hybrid: Finally, a fast hybrid!


Finally, a fast hybrid!

The GS 450h is not a new vehicle by
any means and it creates an interesting stumbling block for someone who
never equated hybrids with performance (like me). You see, this huge
machine is super fast. Hit the gas at 0 mph and get to 60 mph in less
than 5 ½ seconds. That’s damn quick. Switch the Adaptive Variable
Suspension system to “Sport” and scare smug teenagers in their lowered

Here’s the oddest bit. The target audience is MUCH older than the GS 450h feels.

this hybrid (combined with a 3.5 liter V6) cranks out 340 horsepower,
which is the equivalent of a Lexus/Toyota 4.5 liter V8 (hence the “450”
designation). Yet, the GS 450h was designed for your grandparents. No,
I’m not saying it feels like an old-person’s car. I’m not saying the
design is long-in-tooth either (although it is a bit dated). What I am
saying is that this vehicle appeals to and is carefully built for
members of AARP. 

Want proof? Check out the super wide door
openings. I have pretty long arms and with the door fully open, I could
not reach the door handle unless I adopted a yoga-like position and
bent myself in half. Why so wide? This is a perfect opening for loading
and unloading a wheelchair!

Seriously – I measured the space. Its a 3½ foot circle, enough room for a regular sized wheelchair, scooter, Rascal or walker.

gramps is somewhat tall, ducking is a mighty good idea. Surprisingly,
for a car this length, the roof is very low. Back seat comfort is good,
but once again – headroom is on the low side for a vehicle this size.
At 10.6 cubic feet, the trunk yields slightly less space thanks to the
batteries. Still, there is more than enough space for a mobility
enhancing device.

The 14 speaker, 330-watt Mark Levinson audio
system is a rocking addition – but, proof again at its senior
marketing, the Lexus GS 450h comes with a (gasp) TAPE PLAYER!
Thoughtful touch for the “Greatest Generation” I suppose. Still, at
about $65,000 (base is about $57,000) – those who could afford such a
car can splurge and get the “Walter Cronkite” audio book on CD.

Don’t let my grandparent observation dilute the overall power of the
Lexus GS 450h. Even with a continuously variable transmission (CVT),
when you punch it – passengers tend to say something like, “Ohmygawd!”
By selecting the “Sport” mode, the suspension firms up and changes the
fairly soft ride to sporty firm. Steering does not impart much feel
although the GS 450h shows its sporting roots by holding corners no
hybrid has a right gripping.

Lexus_GS_450h_end Fly onto an on-ramp and in no time,
the (roughly) 4,200 lbs Lexus careens down the highway past posted
speeds. Soon, if you keep your foot in it, the driver will hear the CVT
holding the RPMs up – slightly higher than most luxury drivers are
accustom to. Despite all of my best efforts, I was never able to fully
defeat the traction control system – so no smoky burn-out or proper
drifting. On the other end of the spectrum, if you keep things slow
(under 15 mph) the driver can move solely on silent battery

I went to “The Original Pancake House” (which is
one of the best breakfast places in Colorado) with my family in the
Lexus GS 450h. A group of senior citizens applauded and inquired about
the 450h. Many were amazed by the title “hybrid” despite my contention
that this vehicle merely uses the electric power-plant as an
enhancement rather than just a fuel savings tool. Still, when a 70+
year old inquired about mileage – I had to tell them the truth, “It’s
getting over 25 miles per gallon, despite my, loathsome disturbing

I guess pops didn’t like my candor.

Anyway, I
applaud Toyota/Lexus for building such a powerful car that’s so
efficient and kinda fun to drive. Now there is no excuse – I want a 350
horsepower Prius! 

Now, 292 horsepower is not too bad and that’s
what the V6 would turn out on its own. 340 horsepower is better and (I
can’t believe I’m about to say it) thanks to the hybrid’s electric
motor, this Lexus GS 450h’s power is fantastic.

Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his
page HERE. Photos by: N.D