2008 Lexus GS Hybrid Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Lexus GS Hybrid was new.
Auto reviewers agree, the GS 450 Hybrid is not solely about fuel efficiency, it also delivers impressive performance and luxury, comparable to other sport and luxury sedans. "Driving the GS 450h is a joy," reports Forbes.
Edmunds enjoyed their test vehicle, noting that the Lexus provides a "unique driving experience, mile-wide torque band, seamless hybrid operation," and is "super silent."
"The Lexus GS 450h delivers impressive driving credentials," adds Kelley Blue Book, "its ride is seamless; it's smooth, fast, luxurious and hear-a-pin-drop quiet." CNET concludes that the "GS 450h provides dazzling performance and top-notch luxury all in an eco-friendly hybrid wrapper."
Yet, with all that performance, a minority of auto writers finds the GS 450h "antithetical to the whole purpose of a hybrid car", as best said by BusinessWeek, which adds that the GS 450 Hybrid is "a beautiful car with plenty of speed, but the trade-off is that all that power hurts its fuel economy."
Acceleration and Power
The GS 450h uses the highest output Hybrid Synergy Drive systems from Toyota (Lexus' parent), with a total of 340 horsepower. The net product delivers a "sport sedan with graceful about-town capabilities and blazing acceleration on demand," says Forbes. One electric motor, or generator, powers the rear wheels, the second is the primary generator which controls engine speed and the third a gasoline-powered engine. At lower speeds, the electric motor powers the vehicle and the battery recharges itself when the car decelerates and brakes. The GS 450 Hybrid is a certified Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle. "This hybrid, the first rear-wheel-drive hybrid, is all about performance and power, no doubt about that. It's so quiet and so fast it offers a new driving paradigm in which seemingly anything is possible," says Edmunds. They continue onto praise the 450 Hybrid's power, calling it "remarkably fast and powerful."
The Lexus is widely praised by auto reviewers for its highway speed power delivery and competent passing manners. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, calls the Lexus "fast, quiet and smooth," adding that "fun and willing, this car is many things all at once: elegant, sophisticated, powerful and seamless. BusinessWeek notes the GS 450 Hybrid is "designed to maximize performance rather than fuel economy", and CNET sums it up well, observing that "rather than a jolt-ridden sequence of upshifts, the car accelerates with preternatural calm - a bit like a train. Edmunds agrees, calling the transitions "seamless -- you don't experience the sudden shudder found in earlier hybrid vehicles."
Most test drivers observe that the Lexus delivers impressive fuel economy, though Automobile.com notes that "fuel costs have previously hardly been the concern of most buyers in the premium segment." The GS 450 Hybrid has an Environmental Protection Agency estimated fuel economy of 22 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. "Perhaps the biggest thrill came at the gas pump or, more specifically, how many times I passed one by without having to refuel," states MSN. In contrast, BusinessWeek auto writers find the fuel economy "marginally better than that of many other performance sedans, but not by such a huge margin that it will be winning any prizes soon from Greenpeace."
Handling and Braking
The Lexus comes with electronic vehicle-speed-sensing steering, which most auto writers describe as soft, but some say is pleasing." Car and Driver finds the steering "numb" with an "endless cycling of CVT, asthmatic powertrain sounds.finds the turn-in "crisp with progressive steering." On the other hand,
The GS 450 Hybrid is equipped with independent double-wishbone front suspension and independent multi-link coil suspension in the rear. The Lexus has an Adaptive Variable Suspension feature, which continuously adjusts shock-absorber damping rates by computer to help provide appropriate ride comfort and precise handling. The driver can control, by a switch located on the console, how firm the suspension is. Auto writers are almost universally impressed with the Lexus's ride and suspension system. Kelley Blue Book says the GS 450 Hybrid is "quiet, fast and responsive," and "corners with precision, and handles with supreme ease." The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls the ride "ultra-comfortable" with "sport-sedan handling." Yet, Edmunds mentions, that the 450 Hybrid "may not slash through corners with the precision of a German-engineered sport sedan," BusinessWeek concludes that the GS 450 Hybrid "handling is not up to German standards."
The Lexus comes with four-wheel, ventilated, power-assisted disc brakes. Automobile Magazine finds the GS 450 Hybrid brakes "easier to modulate than the nonhybrid car's." Edmunds adds "The different brake pedal feel is easily adjusted to and quickly blends into the overall driving experience," and reports a stopping distance of 123 feet. MSN Autos raised a minor issue, describing the brake pedal feel as "a little sensitive because of the regenerative brake system."