Used 2016 Lexus GS 450h Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2016 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.
What's new for 2016
Hybrids have been in the United States market for 15 years now and while they mostly still stick to their initial purpose — to reduce the amount of petroleum fuel consumed — they've come a long way from those early days. Fuel economy is better than ever, and they can be found in just about every vehicle segment. Notably, Lexus has been offering a hybrid midsize luxury sedan for a while now. And the 2016 Lexus GS 450h is still arguably the best of the breed.
This is a midsize luxury sedan that delivers a solid 31 mpg in combined city and highway driving while simultaneously cushioning driver and passengers in upper-class luxury and delivering a solid, even exciting, driving experience. As do other hybrids, the GS 450h mixes varying amounts of electric and internal combustion power to match the driver's demands. In slow city traffic, the dual 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.
In faster city and highway traffic, the gasoline engine fires up seamlessly to provide additional thrust. And with the GS 450h, there's a lot of thrust available. When working in tandem, the electric motors and 3.5-liter V6 gas engine produce 338 horsepower, plenty of ponies to keep more spirited drivers entertained. An optional F Sport package further rewards the performance-minded with sharper handling and sportier looks.
Be aware, though, that the GS 450h costs thousands more than a similarly outfitted GS 350, its gasoline equivalent. That efficiency-enabling electric powertrain equipment doesn't come cheap. Then again, you're almost always going to have to pay a premium for the few hybrid 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 2016 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 Series and Infiniti Q50 hybrid, but neither really stands out. Among this group, the GS 450h is the most complete midsize luxury hybrid sedan.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Lexus GS 450h is a midsize hybrid luxury sedan that is offered in one well-appointed trim level. Its conventionally powered siblings, the GS 200t and GS 350, are covered in separate reviews.
Standard features on the GS 450h 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 now comes standard with a 12.3-inch infotainment display with Lexus' Remote Touch Interface, navigation, voice controls, 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, a driver drowsiness monitor, front and rear parking sensors and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system. The Lexus Safety System Plus option makes a single package of adaptive cruise control, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams and lane departure alert and intervention. Also available is the Enform Remote smartphone app integration suite with remote locking, climate control and vehicle location and status, and the Enform Service package that adds remote vehicle health and maintenance and status reports
The F Sport package, introduced last year, 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 2016 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's sent to the rear wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
In Edmunds testing, a GS 450h reached 60 mph in 6 seconds, only two-tenths of a second slower than the last Lexus GS 350 we tested. The EPA says you can expect 31 mpg combined (29 city/34 highway). We have confirmed those numbers in real-world driving conditions.
Standard safety features for the 2016 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, a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors and the Lexus Enform Safety Connect system with automatic collision notification, an emergency assist button and stolen-vehicle location services.
The optional safety system plus package includes lane departure intervention, forward collision warning and mitigation (with pedestrian detection and automatic braking).
In Edmunds brake tests, the GS 450h required 122 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, an average distance for luxury sedans with all-season tires. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn't specifically tested the hybrid, but gives the Lexus GS line overall 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 2016 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. Transitions from electric mode to hybrid are smooth and quiet.
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 2016 Lexus GS 450h provides a wide range of capabilities that should appeal to drivers and passengers alike.
In typical Lexus style, the 2016 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 2016 is an upgraded 12.3-inch screen that gives the driver the ability to view full-screen navigation maps. Unfortunately, Lexus' Remote Touch interface is the only way to control the infotainment system. This interface's primary controller is an awkward mouselike device that makes selecting on-screen buttons difficult when the GS 450h is stationary and even more problematic when moving. Fortunately, Lexus has added physical shortcut buttons to the side of the screen to make those basic chores a lot simpler to perform. But the lack of other control buttons still compounds the problems we've experienced with the Remote Touch system.
With the hybrid battery pack consuming some trunk space, the GS 450h can accommodate only 13 cubic feet of cargo, about 1 cubic foot less than the non-hybrid GS 350. The rear seats don't fold to offer additional space, but there is a center trunk pass-through for longer objects.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.