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#2

in 2011 Luxury Large Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $34,518 - $34,518
Original MSRP: $58,950 - $58,950
MPG: 22 City / 25 Hwy
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2011 Lexus GS Hybrid Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

A “hybrid” badge may make you assume that the GS 450h is an underpowered sedan that puts fuel economy before performance. That’s not the case with this Lexus. The combination of instant, low-end torque from its electric motors and a powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine means that this hybrid matches the power of many V8 rivals. In addition to that power, the GS 450h has a leg up because most competitors just can’t match its fuel economy. Reviewers note that while the GS 450h lacks sport sedan handling only the most performance-minded enthusiasts will likely complain about this hybrid’s performance.

  • "The pickup is phenomenal. It boasts nearly 300 horsepower from its 3.5-liter V-6 and on the open road, it's library quiet. The steering is crisp. While heavy, the body remains stiff through turns and its adaptive variable suspension holds the car nicely to the road." -- Detroit News 
  • "The electric motors boost total output to 340 hp. With this kind of power on tap, it's clear that this hybrid is geared more toward increasing performance than reducing fuel consumption." -- Edmunds 
  • "For performance, the GS 450h does very well. You don't get this kind of power with this kind of mileage in a luxury sedan from anyone else. We have to take the car down some for the disconnected handling feeling." -- CNET 
  • "Instant torque, party of one, your stoplight is ready. And this is in any gear, at any speed. Hit gas and there's no ’and,’ you just go." -- Autoblog 

Acceleration and Power

Hybrid performance normally puts more of an emphasis on fuel economy than straight-line acceleration. However, that’s not the case in the Lexus GS 450h. With 340 horsepower going to the rear wheels – more than the base BMW 5-Series or Audi A6 – the 2011 Lexus GS 450h has impressive acceleration.

The power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 and two electric motors mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Instant torque is on tap, thanks to the electric motors, which do not need to ramp up engine speed to build peak power. The hybrid powerplant offers smooth power delivery, and reviewers note that acceleration in the GS 450h is impressive, rivaling V8 powertrains in much of the competition.

Fuel economy is good by large luxury car standards; the GS 450h gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Consumers looking for more of a savings at the pump may want to check out the Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTEC. While the E350 BlueTEC can’t quite match the GS Hybrid’s performance, its clean diesel powertrain nets 22/33 mpg city/highway fuel economy, giving it a clear advantage in terms of efficiency. However, if sport sedan handling takes precedence over straight-line acceleration, shoppers would also be wise to check out the BMW 528i, which averages 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

The BMW and the Mercedes are both significantly cheaper, although it’s important to note that neither can match the GS 450h in terms of power and straight-line acceleration. The 528i is about $13,000 less than the GS Hybrid, while the E350 BlueTEC starts out about $7,000 less. If fuel efficiency is your goal, you don’t need to pay a hybrid-premium in the large luxury class.

  • "The electric motors seem to act as a boost for the car, pushing it quickly forward and inspiring the driver to push the accelerator a little harder." -- Detroit News 
  • "Like other full hybrids, the GS 450h can launch and operate at low speeds for a limited distance under electric power only, and then seamlessly engage the V6 when more motivation is needed. Performance is impressive in either mode, with abundant power reserves that we're more accustomed to experiencing in V8-powered sedans." -- Edmunds 
  • "No, internal combustion would remain unignited until needed. For now, the big GS 450h rolled out of our garage under electric power." -- CNET 
  • "The steering is fine. It isn't pinpoint precise, but we never had any questions about wheel placement. However, play the throttle with anything less than virtuoso finesse -- something we challenge anyone to do in any Lexus that isn't the LFA -- and the transmission will hunt its way through gears both in turns and coming out for reasons we couldn't understand." -- Autoblog 

Handling and Braking

Opting for the GS Hybrid over its gas-only siblings also equips the car with a different steering system. The GS 450h gets electronically-assisted steering instead of the hydraulic system that’s in the GS 350 and GS 460. Reviewer opinion on the GS Hybrid’s system is mixed; some enjoy the light effort, while others comment that it’s too light and makes them feel isolated and removed from the road.

The suspension earns positive comments from most reviewers, although they do note that the GS 450h doesn’t feature sport-sedan handling such as that in the BMW 5-Series. The Lexus GS 450h also comes with regenerative brakes to help charge the car’s batteries. Reviewers note that the GS Hybrid’s brakes feel more conventional than most regenerative systems.

  • "Although it was untroubled by fast cornering, it also didn't provide much driving satisfaction. From steering to suspension, we felt disconnected from the road. Even in Sport mode, we could feel suspension travel in the corners, leading to a floating feeling as the car came through the apexes. Similarly, the steering remained overpowered, letting us have our way with the front wheels without communicating anything back." -- CNET
  • "The ride is amazingly quiet and well-mannered. The car feels heavy, in part, because it is, weighing more than 4,000 pounds. That weight detracts from the car's performance in tight cornering, despite having performance summer tires and an active power stabilizing system to help control body sway." -- Detroit News 
  • "The standard adaptive variable suspension serves up a smooth, soft ride in Comfort mode, yet has the ability to provide stiffer and more responsive dynamics in Sport mode. For more spirited drivers, the optional Active Power Stabilizer significantly reduces body roll when cornering." -- Edmunds 
  • "An adaptive suspension continually senses road conditions to modify damping appropriately. A Sport mode incorporates tighter damping, and an optional active stabilizer system mitigates body roll even more." -- Cars.com 
  • "In corners, the GS remains perfectly horizontal through turns due to its Active Power Stabilizer Suspension System -- flat as week-old soda or a zombie's EKG." -- Autoblog 

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