I don’t know if GS means “guaranteed satisfaction” on this particular sedan offered by Lexus, but it would be OK with me. That’s what the buyer gets with a car like this, which is the model I drove this past week. It’s called a GS450h, and the “h“ stands for hybrid drive train, made up of a 286 horsepower V-6 and two electric motor/generators. Total horsepower of the gasoline/electric package is 338, and the power is delivered through a continuously variable automatic transmission. Although not officially designated a “sports sedan”, this 4,150 lb. car can go from zero to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. Top speed is reportedly a governor-limited 136 mph.
The Lexus GS series of cars has been around since 1993, and is now in its fourth generation configuration for 2013. Lexus, headquartered in Nagoya, Japan, is the luxury brand of Toyota Motor Company, and the first Lexus to hit our shores was the big LS series in 1989. The company currently manufactures Japan’s top-selling make of luxury automobiles. The GS models come in a V-6 sports sedan, a high-performance F sedan, and the hybrid model that I tested.
Highway manners of the GS450h are impeccable, with an assist from the blind spot monitor to keep me out of trouble. Ride on the Dunlop 235/45R18 SP Sport Maxx radials (on 18” nine-split-spoke alloys) is silent and responsive, and the driver can select from four drive modes – Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport+. In winter the driver can select “snow”, and there is an “EV” (all-electric) selection to made, too. Lots of options, and lots of performance in the Sport+ mode, especially so for a hybrid vehicle. While in Sport+, the car provides more shock damping, tighter steering, and improved throttle response. And all these handling and power characteristics are present in a car that delivered over 30 mpg for me all week. Official ratings are 29/city and 34/highway (31 overall).
The M.S.R.P. of the GS450h is $58,950 (base), and options include a luxury package for $5,645, blind spot monitor for $500, premium Mark Levinson stereo for $1,380, hard-disk navigation setup for $1,735, and intuitive park assist for $500. Total list price with freight and some incidentals comes to $69,754. That luxury package includes heated and cooled, 18-way power front semi-aniline leather seats, heated bamboo and leather steering wheel, LED headlamps, and rear-door manual sunshades (an electric sunshade is present in the back window). The 835 watt stereo includes 17 speakers with 7.1 surround sound architecture. The screen for the navigation is gigantic, at 12.3”, with split-screen capability, and controlling its applications is done with a mouse on the console.
The GS450h came with Obsidian (black) paint and the interior was called “Flaxen”, which was a golden hue. The paint seemed to be two feet thick, and the styling excelled mostly up front. No tailpipe finishers were present at the rear, in somewhat of a curious styling move (hybrid?). But the car is an eye catcher, for sure.
The saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, and for Lexus and the GS450h, the saying holds true to form. Lots of money, lots of car, and a satisfying test.