2015 Lexus GS 450h Review
Pros & Cons
- Excellent fuel economy
- refined ride comfort
- high-quality interior
- cutting-edge safety and entertainment technology.
- Price premium over GS 350
- electronics interface can be distracting to use.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2015 Lexus GS 450h impresses with its strong performance, long list of features and luxury sedan refinement. It's the rare hybrid that doesn't force any significant compromises.
Most hybrids on the market today are meant to deliver maximum fuel economy. But there are a handful of hybrids that seek to balance out improved fuel economy with some added performance potential. The hybrid-powered 2015 Lexus GS 450h is one such car that can stretch a gallon of gasoline but still manage to provide some driving excitement, too.
Just like other hybrids, the GS 450h applies a mix of both electric and gasoline power to match the driver's demands. In slow city traffic conditions, the electric motors do much of the initial work to get the midsize luxury sedan moving. The driver can also select an EV mode that uses only electricity, but only up to about 40 mph and for limited distances. With more demand placed on the accelerator, the gasoline engine fires up seamlessly to provide additional thrust.
But in the case of the GS 450h, there's a lot more potential thrust available. Together, the electric motors and 3.5-liter V6 gas engine produce a hearty 338 horsepower, which is plenty to keep more spirited drivers entertained. New for 2015, an optional F Sport package further rewards those drivers with sharper handling and looks to match. Yet if you just drive normally, you can expect fuel economy of about 30 mpg in mixed driving, which is pretty much what you'd get if you were driving, say, a Toyota Corolla. For the more pragmatic of shoppers, however, it is important to note that the GS 450h costs thousands more than a similarly outfitted GS 350, its gasoline equivalent.
Then again, you're almost always going to have to pay a premium for the few luxury sedans that strive to blend luxury, fuel economy and performance. The Acura RLX Hybrid is certainly one to consider, as it delivers 377 hp, 30 mpg combined and all-wheel drive to boot. There are also the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid, though neither one's fuel economy is as good. Among this group, though, the GS 450h strikes us as the most complete luxury hybrid sedan, and we've even marked it as one of our top-rated picks in our 2015 Hybrid Buying Guide.
2015 Lexus GS 450h models
The 2015 Lexus GS 450h is a midsize hybrid luxury sedan that is offered in one well-appointed trim level. The conventionally powered GS 350 is covered in a separate review.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights and accent lights, LED taillights, water-repellent front windows, heated auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, an adaptive suspension, adjustable drive settings, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats with lumbar adjustments, driver seat memory functions, a rear seat center pass-through, heated and ventilated front seats, a power rear sunshade and a power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel.
On the technology front, the GS 450h also comes standard with an 8-inch infotainment display with Lexus' Remote Touch Interface, Siri Eyes Free control for iPhones, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 12-speaker surround-sound system with CD player, iPod/USB interface and satellite radio.
There are many options available, but it's important to note that their availability and grouping with one another can depend on the region in which you live.
Main optional features for the GS 450h include heated rear seats, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control with frontal collision warning, a driver drowsiness monitor, front and rear parking sensors, a lane-keeping assist system, a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system. Also available is a navigation system that also increases the infotainment display to 12.3 inches and adds the Enform smartphone app integration suite with remote locking, climate control and vehicle location and status.
New for 2015 is the F Sport package, which includes 19-inch wheels, unique body and exterior trim elements, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, variable-ratio and rear dynamic steering, upgraded brakes, a rear spoiler on the trunk lid, a 12-way power-adjustable driver sport seat and unique interior trim.
Performance & mpg
The 2015 Lexus GS 450h utilizes a hybrid powertrain that combines a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 engine and two electric motor/generators that are powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack in the trunk. Together, these systems produce 338 hp that is sent to the rear wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
In Edmunds testing, the GS 450h reached 60 mph in 6 seconds, which is only two-tenths of a second slower than the last Lexus GS 350 we tested. The EPA estimates that the GS 450h will achieve 31 mpg combined (29 city/34 highway), which we confirmed under real-world driving conditions.
Standard safety features for the 2015 Lexus GS 450h include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, a rearview camera, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and the Lexus Enform Safety Connect system with automatic collision notification, an emergency assist button and stolen-vehicle location services.
Optional safety features include a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, lane keeping assist, a frontal collision warning that primes the brakes for maximum effectiveness and tightens the seatbelts, and a driver drowsiness monitor.
In Edmunds brake tests, the GS 450h required 122 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, which is an average distance for luxury sedans with all-season tires. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Lexus GS line of sedans its highest score of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof-strength and whiplash protection (seats and head restraints) tests.
Thanks to its hybrid powertrain, the 2015 Lexus GS 450h is very quiet in most driving conditions. Acceleration is only marginally slower than that of the conventionally powered GS 350 and will be more than adequate for the vast majority of drivers. There's also an EV mode that enables you to drive for short distances at low speeds on battery power alone.
The selectable drive modes allow the driver to choose between more economical, comfortable or performance-focused modes. Each mode alters engine and transmission responses as well as the stiffness of the ride quality. For those who desire sharper handling, the new F Sport package's sportier suspension tuning should deliver greater cornering prowess. All things considered, the Lexus GS 450h provides a wide range of capabilities that drivers and passengers should find appealing.
In typical Lexus style, the 2015 GS 450h features a well-crafted interior with high-quality materials. The front seats provide plenty of adjustments, support and padding for hours of comfortable touring. Upgrading to the F Sport package will enhance lateral support further, with adjustable side bolsters and additional thigh support. The rear seats have enough head- and legroom for two adults.
New for 2015 is an upgraded screen included with the navigation system that gives the driver the ability to view and control up to three systems via a triple split screen. Unfortunately, Lexus' Remote Touch interface is the only way to control the infotainment system. This interface uses an awkward mouselike device that makes selecting on-screen buttons difficult when the GS 450h is stationary and even more problematic when moving. The problems are further complicated by a lack of physical shortcut buttons.
With the hybrid battery pack consuming some trunk space, the GS 450h can accommodate a smaller than average 13 cubic feet of cargo, which is about 1 cubic foot smaller than the nonhybrid GS 350. The rear seats do not fold to offer additional space, but there is a center trunk pass-through for longer objects.