2008 Lexus GS 450h Review

Pros & Cons

  • Potent performance, seamless hybrid efficiency, exceptionally quiet ride, outstanding fit and finish.
  • Small trunk, brake modulation could be smoother, fuel economy below what many people expect of a "hybrid."
List Price Estimate
$4,709 - $9,275

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The only midsize luxury sport sedan with a hybrid powertrain, the 2008 Lexus GS 450h delivers the performance of a V8-powered sport sedan while sipping fuel like a midsize V6 family cruiser.

Vehicle overview

It was once generally assumed that performance and fuel efficiency mixed about as well as oil and water. Now, the green revolution has changed all that. Introduced last year, the Lexus GS 450h midsize luxury sport sedan offers a unique variation of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system. The 450h's 3.5-liter V6 engine and compact electric motor have been tuned with a performance bias. Combined, they produce a total of 340 horsepower, yet still deliver up to 30 percent better fuel efficiency than a similarly potent V8 engine, while allowing this Lexus to achieve Super-Low-Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) status.

Aside from its hybrid-specific instrumentation, wheels and badging, the 2008 Lexus GS 450h looks and feels much like its lesser GS 350 and GS 460 stablemates. This means it boasts the same rakish styling, exemplary fit and finish, refined ride and handling, and full complement of luxury and convenience features. In fact, being the flagship of the line, the GS 450h features the highest creature comfort quotient, with standard amenities that are optional on other GS models -- including a power rear sunshade, heated and ventilated front seats, rear side-impact airbags, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive front lighting, a rear back-up camera and a parking assist system.

Overall, the GS 450h's combination of performance and luxury is quite impressive. But we suspect the appeal lies mostly in its niche status. Beyond some of the inherent limitations of hybrid packaging -- like a small trunk -- the 2008 Lexus GS 450h is much less involving to drive than traditional luxury sport sedans like the BMW 5 Series. At the same time, truly green-minded consumers will likely find that this model doesn't bring about nearly the amount of fuel savings one might expect of a car with a hybrid badge. But those wanting maximum thrust with minimum thirst in a truly elegant wrapper will no doubt be entirely satisfied.

2008 Lexus GS 450h models

The 2008 Lexus GS 450h midsize luxury sedan sits atop the GS lineup. It comes equipped with a full array of standard premium luxury features such as 18-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, adaptive xenon headlights and a sunroof. Leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, interior wood trim, Bluetooth, a back-up camera, keyless ignition and a 10-speaker audio system with in-dash CD changer and auxiliary audio jack also come standard.

There are a handful of additional options to choose from, including a navigation system, satellite radio, a phenomenal 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, a safety-oriented pre-collision feature with adaptive cruise control, active antiroll bars and a rear spoiler. Conventional summer (performance) tires are standard on the GS 450h, but buyers have the option of getting either summer or all-season run-flat tires.

2008 Highlights

Like other GS sedans, the 2008 Lexus GS 450h receives minor updating that includes a new front fascia, integrated turn signals in the side mirrors, interior trim refinements and restyled gauges. It also sports an exclusive Black Opal Mica paint color option this year.

Performance & mpg

The GS 450h's 3.5-liter V6 engine and separate high-output electric motor combine to generate up to 340 hp. The hybrid's power is transferred seamlessly to the rear wheels through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT). As with most hybrids, the GS 450h can start off under electric power and then engage the V6 automatically when additional motivation is needed. Maximum torque is available immediately, and performance is impressive at any speed, whether accelerating from a standing start or calling on midrange passing reserves at higher speeds. Zero-to-60-mph runs take a scant 5.2 seconds, and the gas/electric hybrid powertrain helps the 450h achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. For comparison, the V8-powered GS 460 has a 17/24 mpg rating, and the BMW 550i has a 15/23 mpg rating.


Standard GS 450h safety equipment includes antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control and stability control. Inside are a total of 10 airbags, including front and rear seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags and full-length head curtain airbags. Optional items include Lexus Link communications and Lexus' Pre-Collision System. This latter bit of technology uses a radar sensor to detect objects in front of the car, plus a computer that tracks vehicle speed, yaw rate and steering angle. If the computer determines that a collision is imminent, it immediately activates the seatbelt pre-tensioners and engages brake assist when the brake pedal is depressed. For the GS line as a whole, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has issued a top "Good" rating for both frontal-offset and side-impact safety.


The 2008 Lexus GS 450h provides exceptionally composed and well-balanced performance, with a nearly perfect compromise between sport sedan responsiveness and touring sedan comfort. The ride is plush in the adaptive suspension's Comfort mode; when the driver is up for a more spirited romp, the Sport setting noticeably firms up the damping. When the optional active stabilizer system is added, body roll during cornering is also considerably reduced. Grip at the limit is superb in the GS 450h, thanks to the standard 18-inch Z-rated performance tires. One minor weakness involves the brakes, which some drivers find non-progressive and a bit touchy at first. This unusual pedal feel is quickly taken in stride, however, and the regenerative braking system otherwise stops the 2-ton GS 450h quickly and with reassuring authority.


In keeping with Lexus tradition, the GS 450h sports a luxurious and well-crafted cabin. Though spacious enough for five passengers, it accommodates four more comfortably as the elevated rear center cushion makes for a tighter fit in the middle position. Genuine wood and aluminum trim complements the rich leather seating surfaces, and it's all put together with flawless fit and finish. However, the highly polished wood can reflect glare annoyingly at times, and the control-oriented drop-down dash panel to the left of the steering wheel can get in the way of the driver's exit if left open. Trunk space is much tighter than other GS models at only 7.5 cubic feet, owing to the placement of the hybrid battery pack.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Lexus GS 450h.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Fast and Fun Car to Drive
Agata Zelman,06/25/2008
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Excellent quality, comfort, great performance car as compared to a BMW, Audi or Volvo. This is my second GS, but first hybrid and I love it.
My new GS 450h
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I just picked up my GS 450h last week and can already say that I love the car. The performance is amazing and I give Lexus high marks for the quality of the car. I traded in a 2002 GS 430, which I was extremely happy with, but this car has it beat in every category. This is the most fun I've had driving a car.
Mary K Hood,01/10/2009
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
This is one of the best performance cars in existence, BUT I bought it for the mileage it says you get and it doesn't come anywhere near what it is supposed to do. If you want a performance car and don't care about the validity of the hybrid performance then it is an exceptional vehicle. My goal was to have a true hybrid. I am very disappointed.
Great Car
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I ordered mine in early aug. I picked it up 3 days ago and it is a dream! I do have a few issues though. As a tall man, the entry is a headbanger! That's why I gave it a 9. As a heavy man, the center console is not sturdy enough. Also Hi-octane gasoline is an economical nightmare in Tokyo. That's why the 7. I don't need to drive so fast anymore(did that with my Supercoupe)! Can't fit in the Prius. But all things considered, I am super satisfied with it. I plan to keep it about 5 yrs, and I am now confident that I will have no mechanical issues. I have owned and driven many autos, American, Japanese, German, but this is the best so far. I'm also happy to be the first to own one.


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Lexus GS 450h

Used 2008 Lexus GS 450h Overview

The Used 2008 Lexus GS 450h is offered in the following submodels: GS 450h Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). The Used 2008 Lexus GS 450h comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic. The Used 2008 Lexus GS 450h comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 6 yr./ 70000 mi. powertrain warranty.

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Lexus GS 450h?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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