Toyota has been the leader with hybrids and extended the technology into its luxury Lexus brand, initially with the GS 450h. Lexus hybrids are marked by a blue tinge around the Lexus badge.
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The Lexus GS model sits one short of the top of the lineup, behind the LS. Both models can be had as hybrids, although the LS 600h is an expensive flagship sedan, while the GS 450h is more affordable.
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The Lexus GS model comes in three variations, the GS 350, GS 460, and the hybrid GS 450h. The latter uses a similar engine to the GS 350, but gets extra power from the hybrid system and better average fuel economy.
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The GS 450h's gasoline engine is a 3.5-liter V-6, complemented by a robust hybrid system that can drive the car under electric power. Total drive train horsepower is 340, getting the car to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
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Lexus sedans have a distinct profile, with a roofline that extends almost to a fastback design. The cabin holds five comfortably.
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A luxury car, the GS 450h's suspension is designed to damp out bumps quickly, without excessive rocking. The car uses an adjustable suspension that also has a sport mode.
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Trunk room is compromised by the battery pack, making it less roomy than similar sedans. Because of the battery pack, there is no pass-through from trunk to rear seats.
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The interior of the GS 450h is well-designed, with a nice finish on plastics and flush-mounted buttons. But the cabin tech is outdated, with only basic functions for navigation and few audio sources.
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As a hybrid, the GS 450h uses an electric power steering system. Typical for Lexus, the steering is overpowered, making it possible to turn the wheel with a finger.
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Instead of a tachometer, the GS 450h has a kilowatt gauge, which shows how hard the electric motor is working.
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The transmission is continuously variable, using a planetary gear set and motor to seek the best ratio for current driving conditions. It includes sport and manual drive modes, but in manual, the gears are just programmed shift points.
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Slide back the console and you'll find a set of buttons that let you tune the suspension for sport driving and set the drive train for extra power.
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High-resolution maps look good in the navigation system, but they are DVD-based, so response times can be slow.
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This fuel consumption screen shows how frugal the GS 450h is on gas usage. In city driving, it will frequently show that the car has been propelled solely by the electric motor.
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