For the most part, owning a sporty luxury sedan means sacrificing fuel economy. But the 2018 Lexus GS 450h is a notable exception. This hybrid luxury sedan is enjoyable to drive and saves you gas at the same time.
From economical to sporty, there's a Lexus GS model that appeals to most luxury sedan buyers. The 450h's hybrid powertrain combines a 3.5-liter V6 with large electric motor producing a healthy 338 combined horsepower. The rear-wheel-drive 450h can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a claimed 5.6 seconds and return combined 31 mpg (29 city/34 highway).
And while other manufacturers have sacrificed dynamics for hybridization, the GS 450h maintains its performance capability thanks to its sporty handling. The rest of the 450h is very similar to the GS 350, including the large 12.3-inch infotainment display, navigation system, and plenty of standard and optional features.
On the downside, the 450h's pricing is much higher than a comparably equipped gasoline-only GS 350 as well as starting prices for rivals such as the BMW 530e plug-in hybrid and Acura RLX Sport Hybrid. We're also not fond of the 450h's infotainment interface. But on the whole, the 2018 Lexus GS 450h is a smart pick if you're looking to get high levels of luxury, performance and fuel economy in one package.
With just one trim level, the GS 450h is very easy to buy. There are stand-alone options such as a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, a power trunklid and parking sensors, and they're all relatively affordable. If you're looking to get something a little more aggressively styled, consider the GS 450h F Sport.
The 2018 Lexus GS 450h is available in two well-equipped trim levels. Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 paired to a battery-fed electric motor. The combination is good for a total of 338 horsepower that is sent to the rear wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Standard feature highlights include 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, a rearview camera, the Remote Touch infotainment interface, a navigation system, voice controls, smartphone app integration, a 12.3-inch display screen and a 12-speaker sound system. A variety of driver safety aids (blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and the Lexus Safety System+ suite of advanced active safety features) is also included.
The F Sport version includes 19-inch wheels, special exterior and interior styling, a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers, enhanced steering (variable gear-ratio and rear-wheel steering) and sport front seats.
Notable options for the GS 450h include a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system, a power-operated trunk, and front and rear parking sensors.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2014 Lexus GS 450h F Sport (3.5L V6 hybrid | CVT automatic | RWD)
Lexus says the GS 450h is the quickest GS you can buy, but our tests show it's slightly slower than the standard car. Its handling is intuitive and well balanced, though it lacks the outright grip of F Sport-equipped cars. Still, this is a solid performer with rewarding driving character.
Acceleration is smooth and uninterrupted with 60 mph arriving in only 6 seconds, which is average for a midsize luxury sedan. The GS feels rapid and responsive thanks to abundant torque.
Overall braking composure is good, but very savvy drivers will notice that the brake pedal feels a bit inconsistent at low speeds. In our panic-braking test, the GS 450h stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is average for the segment.
The Lexus GS 450h goes where you point it for most situations. The steering effort is adjustable, but the feedback is minimal. Overall, the sedan strikes a good balance between everyday usability and available performance in its steering tuning.
More capable than it needs to be, the GS 450h will hustle when it's asked but never feels uncomfortable as a result. It offers higher limits than most drivers will explore. But its limits are lower than those of non-hybrid cars in the segment.
The GS 450h, because of its abundant torque, is responsive and easy to drive, which is unusual in a car equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It's also very quiet.
A luxury hybrid with sporting intentions isn't a car we'd expect to sacrifice all else in the name of comfort, but the GS 450h does a nice job of splitting the difference. It's amply comfortable when that's what you want.
The heated and ventilated front leather seats are a highlight. Comfort is good even after extended driving. Adjustments are abundant but not always intuitive. There's excellent thigh support, though some drivers might find the seat bottoms a bit flat.
An active, adaptive variable suspension (part of the F Sport option) helps this GS 450h split the difference between sport sedan and proper Lexus. The ride is generally smooth and controlled with little harshness on rough roads in Normal mode. Sport+ mode is stiff.
Noise & vibration8.5
There's precious little wind noise, even at high speed, just as you'd expect from Lexus. The powertrain is particularly quiet, and electric mode provides near noise-free motoring below about 25 mph.
A large, highly functional interior with very good materials and high-quality assembly is slightly offset by a unique but awkward infotainment control setup.
Ease of use7.5
The highlight and downfall of the GS' otherwise logical interior is the Remote Touch infotainment interface. It's a novel approach, but it's confusing and inconsistent and demands too much attention.
Getting in/getting out8.0
In traditional Lexus fashion, the GS is built for real people. The doors are wide, the sills are narrow, and the seats are relatively high. It's very easy to get in and out of.
The GS is a big car, and the interior reflects that. Front passengers will enjoy lots of hip-, leg- and headroom as well as shoulder room. The story is the same in the back unless you are very tall.
There's excellent forward visibility thanks to small pillars and minimal blind spots. Front and rear parking sensors and a rear camera take care of the rest. Fantastic high-beam headlights on the open road.
Lexus cars are built to a high standard, and the GS 450h is no exception. The interior materials are stunning, and the controls offer precise feel. The body panels are well matched, and gaps are consistent. It's what we expect at this price.
The sedan's useful variety of interior storage options is offset by a small trunk and a back seat that doesn't fold down.
It has a useful glovebox, two cupholders ahead of the shifter and a medium-size center console that opens wide. The front door pockets are a decent size but won't hold a water bottle. The rear door pockets are small but will fit a bottle. The rear center armrest has a storage bin and cupholders.
Because of the hybrid battery pack, the trunk offers just 13.2 cubic feet of space, which isn't much more than what you get from a typical compact sedan. The rear seatbacks don't fold either.
Child safety seat accommodation
Has two pairs of LATCH anchors at the bottom and three top-tether anchors along the top. Bottom LATCH anchors are tightly recessed between the seat cushions, though. Rear legroom is generous enough for most rear-facing seats to fit, but tall front occupants might still have to scoot up some.
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.
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