The 2014 Lexus GS 450h is a luxury sports sedan without the contradiction that the term might imply. It offers all of the luxury you would expect in a sporty and fun driving package that still manages to be extremely efficient when compared to its gasoline-only counterpart. Lexus has found the balance that may define the future of all vehicles in this genre.
The manufacturer says
The GS Hybrid defies compromise and convention. In addition to dynamic performance features like paddle shifters, you’ll find world’s firsts like an available bamboo-trimmed steering wheel and a unique direct-injected Atkinson-cycle engine.
2014 GS 450h
Midsize hybrid luxury sedan
3.5L V6, motor, CVT
MSRP as tested:
The GS 450h is large for a midsize sedan, offering more interior room than its lower-priced, but equally enjoyable ES 300h brother. Unlike the 300h, however, the 2014 GS 450h is a sports sedan with suspension tuning, transmission control, and off-line performance to match the title. It is not a contender against serious sports sedans, especially those with German nameplates, but it holds its own against most who use the title while additionally giving fuel economy that bests nearly all of them.
The hybrid powertrain in the Lexus GS 450h consists of a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 engine in a new style of Atkinson-cycle engine from Toyota which couples to a pair of motor/generators and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to produce a total of 338 horsepower to the rear wheels. This gives a 0-60 time of about six seconds, which is good for the segment. If driven nicely, the GS 450h returns 31 mpg combined, with 29 in the city and 34 on the highway. Our real-world driving showed that the highway estimate is close (at our high altitude, it was slightly lower at just under 33) and the combined rating is spot on.
In most respects, outside of the hybrid powertrain, the 2014 Lexus GS 450h is the hybrid version of the GS 350 sedan. The 350 delivers the same level of comfort and luxury, but at a lower cost and faster pace. It does not produce the same fuel efficiency, obviously.
As with most luxury machines, the interior is the primary motivator here. The Lexus GS 450h has a beautiful interior appeal that includes all of the basic requirements like spacious seating and well-appointed details. Added to that is the optional Luxury Package and Navigation system which add details like the sustainably-made bamboo trim (most strikingly to the steering wheel) and a very large-screen monitor at the center of the dash which allows not only a clear wide-angle view for the backing camera, but also enhanced navigation and audio controls in a split-screen setup. Even with the clunky setup of the Lexus user interface, this is a sizable bonus.
On the road, the 2014 Lexus GS 450h is a great drive. It’s sporty when you want it to be, sedate when you don’t, and always comfortable. The addition of switchable controls to allow for more suspension tuning and a choice of focus on efficiency or sport are a great new feature. The control knob comes straight out of the well-done F-Sport packages that appear in many Lexus vehicles of note. It tunes the CVT to become an eight-speed transmission in feel, making for powerful acceleration with the sports car feel those who use this will expect.
What we like
Excellent interior in both comfort and ergonomics as well as accoutrement.
Well-balanced drive for both efficiency-minded drivers and sports-loving careeners. Or those who switch between the two on a whim.
What we don’t
Expensive with the hybrid option adding nearly ten thousand dollars to the price.
Not as sporty or efficient as some others though it’s a good balance of both.
Everything about the 2014 Lexus GS 450h is centered on balancing luxury, performance and efficiency. It strikes this balance very well, offering a good mix of each. Those who want mostly efficiency may look elsewhere while those wanting purely a sport driving experience should also look somewhere else. For those who want both, the GS 450h is it.
Test Period Length and Limitations The Lexus GS 450h was a manufacturer’s press loan vehicle driven for about five days during which time 405 miles were put on the car. Most driving was on the highway and freeway with some urban and suburban mix.