Full 2007 Lexus GS 450h Review
What's New for 2007
The 2007 Lexus GS 450h is the first luxury/sport sedan hybrid sold in America. Sporting nearly 340 horsepower, the GS 450h boasts the power of a big V8 while promising the fuel economy of a small V6.
Performance hybrid. Until now, that was an automotive oxymoron. But with the introduction of the 2007 Lexus GS 450h, it now makes sense. Based on Lexus' midsize luxury sport sedan, the GS series, the GS 450h boasts nearly 340 horsepower from its gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain. But unlike other hybrids currently on the market, the focus of this Lexus is squarely on performance. Lexus says it could have tuned this model more for better fuel economy, but the goal here was to offer performance equal to or better than the top V8 sport sedans from Europe and still maintain the fuel economy of a V6-powered family sedan. To put it into perspective, the GS 450h can sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds and has an EPA highway mileage estimate of 28 mpg. Typically, that kind of performance usually requires a monster V8 that slurps gas at the rate of around 14 mpg.
Apart from different wheels and the badges, the GS 450h is little changed in appearance from a GS 300 or GS 430. The cabin boasts the same fine materials and finish, and luxury features, such as heated and cooled seats and a power rear sunshade, are in ample supply. So is it the car for you? Although certain German rivals may offer more in terms of road feedback to the driver, there's no denying the GS 450h's outstanding all-around performance capabilities. Yes, Lexus probably could have achieved more than 30 mpg from this drivetrain at the expense of blistering acceleration. But even still, there's nothing else out there that can touch the Lexus GS 450h as far as providing plenty of gusto without the gas-guzzling. For the techno-loving and fuel-conscious luxury sedan buyer, it gets no better in 2007 than the 450h.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Like its GS siblings, the 2007 Lexus GS 450h comes only as a midsize luxury sedan. Essentially the top of the line, the 450h comes standard with high-end luxury features such as 18-inch wheels, adaptive HID headlights, heated and cooled seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, keyless entry and start, a moonroof, park assist and a 10-speaker audio system with an in-dash CD changer. The handful of options include a navigation system; a 14-speaker, 330-watt Mark Levinson audio system; active suspension; Lexus' Pre-Collision safety system (which comes with dynamic cruise control); run-flat tires and a rear spoiler.
Powertrains and Performance
A 3.5-liter V6 teams with a high-output electric motor to deliver up to 339 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. All that power is sent to the rear wheels via a CVT (continuously variable transmission) -- no other transmission is offered. Performance, accelerative or otherwise, is impressive. The GS 450h is capable of a 0-60-mph sprint in just 5.6 seconds and posts an EPA fuel economy rating of 25 mpg city/28 mpg highway.
Stability control, traction control, ABS, emergency brake assist and every airbag possible (including dual front knee bags and side curtain bags) come standard, as do headlight washers and a park assist system. Optional is Lexus' Pre-Collision system that uses the dynamic cruise control system's radar to identify an impending impact and automatically tighten up the seatbelts and prime the brakes for emergency brake assist (meaning full braking power is applied once the driver hits the pedal). In the IIHS frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, the similar Lexus GS 300/430 posted ratings of "Good," the highest possible.
Interior Design and Special Features
The GS 450h's cabin features all the latest high-tech luxury features and, as with most Lexus products, high-quality interior materials. The optional navigation system (which includes a rear backup video camera) is easy to use, thanks to its high-resolution screen and enhanced graphics. Front seating is very comfortable. There are a few ergonomic faults, however. The car's highly polished wood trim can cast an annoying reflection, and taller drivers might find that headroom is slightly lacking. Additionally, as in many midsize luxury sedans, the raised center section of the rear seat is uncomfortable for those passengers unlucky enough to get stuck in the middle. Because of the battery pack's bulk, the GS 450h's trunk can hold just 12.7 cubic feet of cargo, which is a bit less than regular GS series sedans.
When the car is driven for performance, a "sport" suspension setting can be selected that noticeably firms up the double-wishbone, coil-spring suspension. This Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system, along with an optional active stabilizer system, reduces body roll during cornering. In practice it works great, as the GS 450h always feels composed when pushed through the corners. Outright grip is exceptional, thanks to the 18-inch Z-rated Yokohama tires (sized 245/40ZR18). And the AVS does a fine job at providing a plush ride when in "comfort" mode. Although the brakes feel a bit touchy at first, it doesn't take long to acclimate. Overall, the Lexus GS 450h provides a nice blend of sport sedan performance and touring sedan comfort.