Home » Featured »Lexus Reviews » Currently Reading:

Review: 2013 Lexus GS 450h

Kamil Kaluski May 22, 2013 Featured, Lexus Reviews 4 Comments

2013 Lexus GS 450h (20)

Lexus introduced the GS300 in 1993. The Italdesign Giugiaro designed car was to follow in the footsteps of the iconic LS400, bringing contention to the 5-series and the E-class, much like the LS did to 7-series and the S-class. The car looked slick and it came with already legendary reliability and an excellent price point.

Unfortunately its success did not mimic the LS400. The GS was a victim to the sharply raising cost of Yen and the lack of V8 power, which its competitors had. Successive generations of the GS had the right equipment but lacked the advantageous value and style. It wasn’t just the GS, however, the whole Japanese car market seemed to have suffered some kind of design and engineering setback in the late 1990’s and 2000’s from which the whole industry is currently recovering.

Part of this recovery was Toyoda Akido’s direction to improve quality and make cars that are not boring. The initial results of this direction are evident in the Lexus LFA, ISF, and the Scion FR-S. Toyota plans to implement this direction into each new product, including the new Lexus GS. Jeff has previously reviewed the new Lexus GS 350 F-Sport, and he liked it a lot. But I’m not driving the F-Sport. No, I am driving the faster, more powerful GS 450h.

Yes, h as in hybrid. Yes, faster. Yes, more powerful. Yes, you read that right.

2013 Lexus GS 450h front

Now, I must admit something; I always liked the hybrid technology. Yes, I love diesels, but I am now more confident than ever that the two can coexist happily. The problem with the hybrid technology, until now, was the cars in which it was implemented. If one was to remove the hybrid motors and the battery out of Prius, enthusiasts would still find it to be a miserable vehicle with weird interior.

This GS 450h is not like any other hybrid vehicle I have ever driven, however. The biggest flaw I have noticed in hybrids of all kinds, including the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, is the fact that they are just not smooth. In typical hybrids, one feels and hears the internal combustion engine turning on and off, the squeal of the motors, and the overall busy-ness of the system. Combine that with interiors stripped of sound dampening material and narrow tires, and you end up with a vehicle with zero enthusiast appeal. 

2013 Lexus GS 450h gauge cluster display

That is not the case with the GS 450h. Everything about this car is smooth and quiet. Measured by no other means than my golden ear, this may have been one of the quietest vehicles I ever drove. Then there is the seamless way in which the engine and the electric system work together; if it wasn’t for the display, one wouldn’t know, or care, what the powerplant is doing.

While quietness does not speak well to many enthusiasts, the chassis will. The new GS does not feel like any Lexus, or any hybrid, that I have ever driven. The car is fun to drive but still retains a proper luxury ride over less-than-perfect roads, which is a balance that many cars in this class try, but fail, to accomplish. No one will be taking the GS to the track, but no one should complain that it’s this vehicle is a snooze on public roads, either.

2013 Lexus GS 450h (13)

The interior is very comfortable and elegant, on par with anything in its class. There is plenty of room for everyone inside, just as it should on a large sedan such as this. Options include heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel (first world problem – the wooden part wasn’t heated), window shades, and rear audio and climate controls. The only downside of GS450h’s accommodations is the reduced trunk space due to the hybrid battery placement.

The infotainment system is controlled by a mouse-like device and it fairly intuitive. The menus are easy to navigate as well, but it all requires the driver to take eyes off the road. Overall, I would place it second to BMW’s iDrive, with a caveat that I never played around with Audi’s supposedly excellent system.

Like any hybrid, and most new cars today, the GS450h focuses on fuel economy. My mix of city and highway driving resulted in an average of 30mpg, which is pretty good given this car’s size and weight. It’s worth noting that the GS450h did not feel out of power at any point. Around the city, the electric motor moved away from stoplights smoothly and highway passing power was in abundance, especially when the car was in Sport+ mode.

2013 Lexus GS 450h clock and buttons

The said Sport+ mode, when engaged, changed the charge/discharge monitor into a tachometer and illuminated the gauge cluster in red. The “shifts” of the CVT transmission also became “faster” but remained smooth in process. I suppose the shocks firmed up in the sport mode too, but I honestly could not feel it. I have not tried the “eco” mode for obvious reasons.

In Toyota’s attempt to redo its image, the Lexus GS, both the GS 450h and the GS 350, is a solid continuation of what the ISF, LFA, and FRS began. It’s an attractive, if understated, car which offers comfort, sporty chassis, and excellent fuel economy. At $70,000 fully loaded (starts at $60,000) it may not have the price advantage it once did, but it is priced right on par with the BMW 5 ActiveHybrid and Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid, neither of which are inexpensive, and I cannot think of a reason why I would prefer either of the German cars over it.


  • Dean Bigglesworth

    I seriously wasn't expecting it but I prefer this to the 5-series in pretty much every way. It's not quite as fast in straight line but I had more fun on curvy roads in this than newest 5-series which I found pretty dreary, apart from the seriously over-complex nearly 130hp/litre M550d with three turbos.. That was sort of fun. The 335i and S4 are more fun than any of these, though.

    Now I'll leave everybody to the F-sport jokes.

  • Remdog

    Kamil, can you elaborate on how the instrument cluster functions? I'm quite intrigued by how Lexus combined the traditional tach with the hybrid "charge, eco, power" monitor. Does the tach switch to the charge function when "start stop" is activated and the ICE shuts down, or can you choose which setting you want? This looks to be well below the quality of its competitors(aside from Cadillac).

    • Imagine a blank gauge with a needle – no numbers, just a blank gauge, notches, and a needle.

      In Eco and Normal modes, illuminated from behind, are three sections: charge, eco, and power.

      In Sport and Sport+ models, the three sections disappear and in their place appear 1,2,3, etc digits representative of x1000 RPMs.

      While in Sport and Sport+, and the engine shuts off, the needle drops to zero, or slightly below zero if charging.
      Also, while in Sport and Sport+ models, the illumination of the gauge cluster changes to red, which is kind of visible in the above pic.

      I hope that makes sense.

  • A car with so much technological revolution must blow people's mind out. Although this model was introduced in 1993 but it have all those features that are being found in today's car and that are being demanded by customers now-a-day.