Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

CNHI News Service Originals

September 4, 2012

Lexus GS 450h shows hybrid cars can be thrilling, too GS450hExt.jpg

Lexus has always been a luxury brand for logical people.

Where you might buy a Maserati for its passion, a Jaguar for its sexy styling or a Mercedes for its prestige, you buy a Lexus for its quality and longevity. It's the right-brained brand.

You would think, then, by taking a right-brained car like the Lexus GS and turning it into a goody-two-shoes, save-the-world hybrid, it might not be the most exciting thing to drive.

Lexus took a different approach with the GS 450h hybrid, though. Not only does it get better gas mileage than the ordinary GS — 34 mpg on the highway compared to 28 in the GS 350 — but it's also faster, too.

The hybrid GS makes 338 total horsepower between its electric motors and gasoline engine, which means it can accelerate to 60 mph slightly quicker than the GS 350 with its worse gas mileage.

It's a thrilling car from the driver's seat, too. A knob on the center console lets you select the driving mode ranging from Eco and Normal — which both give you the smooth, quiet and dull ride Lexus vehicles are famous for — in addition to Sport and Sport+, which make it respond more like a BMW than a Lexus.

The Sport+ mode, in particular, firms up the suspension, delivers full voltage to the electric motors, increases the steering response and makes the GS generally drive more like the sportier Lexus IS sedan. It's like having an aggressive sports sedan when you want it and a smooth, silent luxury car when you don't.

The hybrid version also tops the GS lineup with a price just shy of $59,000.

For that price, you would expect the GS 450h to come with plenty of high-end finishes and features, and it does. Its interior is crafted as finely as anything in the industry, most notably with an optional hand-finished bamboo steering wheel.

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