2018 Lexus GS Hybrid Review

GS Hybrid

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2018 Lexus GS Hybrid Overview

Performance, luxury, and efficiency come together in the Lexus GS 450h midsize luxury sport sedan, which receives only minimal updates for 2018. Equipped with a hybrid powerplant designed to push fuel economy numbers into the mid-30s, the GS 450h still manages to make the dash from 0-60 mph in a speedy 5.6 seconds while pampering its passengers in an upscale cabin, combining the best of all worlds under its sleek exterior skin.

When it debuted in 2007, the GS 450h held the distinction as the world's first mass-produced rear-wheel-drive (RWD) hybrid luxury sedan. Now at the tail end of its second generation, it still has relatively few competitors. For 2018, Lexus makes its Enform Safety Connect and Enform Service Connect subscriptions complimentary on the GS 450h for the first 10 years of ownership. Previously available on a complimentary basis for only one year, Enform Safety Connect includes such features as a stolen-vehicle locator, enhanced roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, and an emergency assist button, while Service Connect alerts the owner about recommended vehicle maintenance, service campaigns, and safety recalls. The automaker also includes its Enform Remote service on a complimentary basis for one year. The system gives owners the ability to locate the vehicle, lock and unlock doors, start the engine, and activate the climate control system remotely via a smartphone app. In addition to the Enform services, Lexus offers new optional 19-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels for 2018. Otherwise, the GS 450h remains unchanged.

As in previous years, its hybrid powerplant features a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 engine producing 286 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque, and a 650-volt direct-current electric motor generating 180 hp (197 hp max), for a combined system output of 338 hp. The hybrid system links to an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) with paddle shifters and ECO, Sport, Snow, and EV driving modes. The system also includes a 650-volt Hybrid Battery Pack capable of generating 41 hp of its own for driving on electric power alone. Working together, the powerplant and drivetrain propel the GS 450h through the rear wheels from 0-60 in a swift 5.6 seconds while still managing decent fuel economy numbers of 29 mpg city, 34 highway, and 31 combined. Lexus recommends premium fuel for the V6 engine.

Lexus again offers the GS 450h in well-equipped Base and performance-oriented F Sport trims for 2018. Both deliver a smooth, agile ride, though the F Sport remains more fleet-footed thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and steering system, as well as upgraded front brakes. Both ride on an independent suspension with double wishbones in the front, a multilink setup in the rear, and stabilizer bars in the front and back. The Base trim comes equipped with electric power rack-and-pinion steering and large ventilated disc brakes in the front (13.1 inches) and rear (12.2 inches). For a more precise, controlled feel, the F Sport adds an adaptive variable suspension, which makes on-the-fly adjustments to the shock absorbers, and speed-sensing variable gear-ratio steering, which adjusts the steering angles of the front wheels, as standard features. The F Sport also gets larger 14-inch brakes with 4-piston calipers in the front. Buyers can add the Lexus Dynamic Handling package, which includes rear-wheel steering, as an option on the F Sport for even better response and driving precision.

Outside, the GS 450h displays a dynamic design highlighted by a sculpted front end, which sweeps away to either side in curved layers from the signature deep spindle grille, making the fascia look as if it's been shaped by a strong headwind. Multifaceted LED headlights with intelligent high beams angle in toward the grille from the sides like lightning bolts, adding to the aggressive look. Lower intakes in the front fascia channel air to the front brakes, and a rear diffuser helps to reduce drag. Other design elements, like the high wheel arches, sleek sidelines, and low roofline, give the GS 450h a bold yet poised look. Standard exterior features for the Base include auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, and 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels. The F Sport adds a number of unique exterior design features, including a distinctive grille and a rear spoiler, along with staggered-width 19-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, which are one inch wider in the back than in the front, at eight and nine inches respectively.

The GS 450h's plush cabin continues to receive rave reviews from owners and critics alike, and they're well deserved. Quiet, comfortable, and roomy, the interior provides plenty of legroom and headroom in both rows of seating, with leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, a heated tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and a 12-speaker premium audio system among the standard features guaranteed to pamper passengers. The dash's expansive 12.3-inch split-screen color display, an industry first, provides access to the car's navigation, audio, and tech features like Siri Eyes Free, which makes it easy for passengers to connect to their iPhones to send and receive emails and text messages. The multimedia system also offers subscription-free traffic and weather services for up-to-date information on the latest road and climate conditions.

Interior niceties include ambient lighting, a well-outfitted front center console with an audio jack and USB port, and a power rear sunshade, which helps keep second-row passengers cool and reduces glare. Push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and a power moonroof are among the other standard interior features. The F Sport adds a number of additional features, including well-bolstered 16-way power-adjustable front seats, aluminum pedals, and optional Rioja Red leather upholstery. Other options include a 17-speaker, 835-watt Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system for both trims and a heads-up display for the F Sport.

Both trims come standard with such driver-assistance features as dynamic cruise control, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, and lane-departure alert with lane-keep assist, as well as the Lexus Safety System with pre-collision functions. A backup camera with dynamic gridlines and a full complement of 10 airbags are among the other standard safety features.

It's easy to see that the 2018 GS 450h has a lot going for it. Owners get more horsepower and quicker acceleration with the GS 450h, which might sweeten the deal for those who make performance a priority.


Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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