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Hybrid engine technology that combines both fuel and electric power is typically used to improve a vehicle's fuel economy. However, the Lexus GS 450h proves that it doesn't have to be used exclusively for that purpose, as its hybrid powertrain is also utilized to provide enhanced performance.
As the first hybrid model introduced to the North American market that didn't have maximum fuel economy as a primary goal, the previous-generation GS 450h sport sedan delivered the power of a V8 with the fuel consumption of a V6. The current car carries on that tradition, but ups the ante with more engaging driving dynamics and substantially better fuel economy. We're still not sure how many people are really interested in such performance hybrids, but the GS 450h is at least a worthy choice for those who do.
Used Lexus GS 450h Models
The previous, first-generation Lexus GS 450h was produced from 2007 through 2011. Changes were minimal in that time, though buyers should note that the trunk was smaller in the first two model years (8 cubic feet) compared to the later ones (11).
Like its successor, this GS 450h was powered by a gas-electric hybrid system, which combined a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a high-output electric motor. This supplemented the gas engine with low-end torque during starts and offered additional power under heavy acceleration. Together, the hybrid system put out a total of 340 hp while returning a somewhat unremarkable 23 mpg combined. The only transmission was an electronically controlled CVT.
In terms of equipment, the Lexus GS 450h was pretty much the top-of-the-line GS. Dual front knee airbags, rear seat side airbags, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a sunroof and a 10-speaker audio system were just some of the sedan's extensive standard features. Starting in 2010, Lexus also upgraded the car's navigation system and added new features like an iPod interface and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Buyers will also want to note if a used GS 450h includes any of the myriad optional high-tech luxury features, including adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision safety system, a voice-activated navigation system and a 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
Not surprisingly, the GS 450h's cabin was decked out in high-quality wood and leather trim, while craftsmanship was quite strong. However, one surprise inside the cabin was the relatively limited amount of headroom. While it might have been fine for most of the population, tall drivers may find things a little cramped inside. And due to the bulk of the electric motor's battery pack, there was noticeably less trunk space in the GS 450h than in regular GS series sedans.
In road tests, our editors found this Lexus GS 450h to be remarkably fast and powerful. Zero to 60 mph took just 5.5 seconds. Given that performance, its fuel economy is impressive, but compared to other hybrids of the time it was decidedly unimpressive. It just depends on your expectations. This 450h also handled surprisingly well thanks to adaptive suspension dampers and an optional active stabilizer that added even more control to the sedan's already well-balanced handling characteristics.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Lexus GS 450h page.