Performance and Efficiency in a Premium Sedan
The 2018 GS 450h is the most fuel-efficient model in the Lexus GS line-up, delivering mid-30 mpg on the highway. It also does it in style with premium comfort. So, are you ready to drop the staid sedan and step into something more adventuresome? Will your neighbors know what came over you? Your answers should be “Yes” and “Who cares!”
The 2018 GS 450h has a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 and two electric motor-generators, the components of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system. The 3.5L puts out 286 horsepower (hp) and 257 pounds-feet of torque, then along with the electric motors produces a combined system output of 338 hp. Acceleration was smooth and pulled hard through the complete torque band.
The rear wheels are driven through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), with paddle shifters. Fuel economy for the GS 450h is EPA rated at 29 city/34 highway/31 combined miles per gallon. Running on 91 octane, I drove 265 miles (mostly on the highway) and averaged 30.7 mpg.
The Lexus Hybrid Drive system automatically switches between the electric-only drive mode, combined electric/gasoline engine, and gasoline-only power. The transitions are seamless and smooth, and can be monitored by viewing the dash gauges. When driving a hybrid, I like the option to select EV-only, especially around town, forcing the car to run solely on electric power. The GS 450h has this option but the driving range in pure electric mode is short. Plus, when in EV mode, only the slightest accelerator pedal pressure kicked in the gasoline engine. Being able to hold the car in electric mode for a longer distance and at higher speeds would be a nice feature to add.
The hybrid system’s nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery is charged through the regenerative charging system, which converts kinetic energy into electric energy and stores it in the battery when applying the brakes or coasting. This process can also be viewed on a dash gauge where you can watch the power flow into and out of the battery and engine.
The Drive Mode Select on the GS 450h allows the driver to choose between Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport S and Sport S+ as well as EV. There is even a Snow mode. With all these settings, I spent most of my time on the highway in Eco which adapted throttle response for the best fuel economy. But for fun—and a 5.6 second zero-60 time—opt for Sport+. For even more fun, there is a GS 450h F Sport model that offers a tuned suspension and more aggressive styling. The aforementioned neighbors will really wonder what you are up to if you bring this one home.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The GS 450h is very comfortable to drive. The front and rear suspensions get gas-filled shocks, coil springs and stabilizer bars, with the driver being able to control the Adaptive Variable Suspension for shock absorber damping. This technology is fun to experiment with when driving on twisty roads, whether on tight or sweeper corners.
Our Lexus GS 450h came with 18-inch, five-spoke machine-finish chrome alloy wheels and 235/45R all-season Michelin tires. Handling is nicely balanced and spirited, building confidence the more you drive it hard into corners.
Stopping comes from an electronically controlled brake system that incorporates regenerative braking and power-assisted, four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution. The stops were straight and consistent. The brakes were a bit grabby when the GS 450h was cold, but worked as expected once driven for just a few miles. When coming to a stop the combination of the regenerative braking and the hybrid motor made a noticeable, but not unpleasant, whine.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The Lexus GS 450h is a five-passenger midsize sedan with a sleek design that Lexus says is “at the intersection of style and performance.” The Lexus signature spindle grille has attractive satin chrome border strips and is framed by L-shaped Bi-LED headlamps. The roofline’s slope is designed for ease of entry by front and rear passengers. The trunk lid has a very subtle spoiler and the LED tail lights also have the distinctive L-shape that is especially attractive and noticeable at night. Be sure to look for the blue on the Lexus logo badges which signifies this GS 450h is electrified.
Driving Experience: Interior
The 2018 Lexus GS 450h has one trim level and is loaded with features that would be optional equipment on lesser cars. Clean Fleet Report’s test car did have options of a power trunklid, intuitive park assist, trunk mat, cargo net, illuminated door sills and an upgraded sound system.
The Mark Levinson Premium surround sound infotainment (entertainment and information) system had 17 speakers, an amplifier and 835 watts. The 12.3-inch color touchscreen display takes a bit of driver attention to operate via the Remote Touch Controller, but overall it worked well for the navigation, Siri Eyes Free, SiriusXM/FM/CD/HDAM radio with iPod/MP3 playback capability. The FM/AMHD is a cache radio that offers the ability to pause and playback 10 minutes of programming. The SiriusXM service is included for 90 days. There is an auxiliary audio jack, USB port, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology and hands-free phone capability. The auto-dimming rearview mirror was HomeLink equipped. There’s voice activation for the telephone and navigation worked well.
Lexus has done an excellent job of designing an interior with high craftsmanship and attention to detail. Beginning with the leather-trimmed, power 10-way adjustable, heated and ventilated driver and passenger seats, the multi-function wood and leather heated steering wheel (with a power tilt and telescoping column and controls for the audio, telephone and voice commands), made it easy for the driver to find a comfortable and in-control driving position.
The cockpit design is driver friendly, featuring large gauges for easy reading and controls for easy access. The interior also has a dual-zone automatic climate system, power tilt and sliding moonroof, power windows, door locks and mirrors, logged carpet mats, electronic parking brake, Smart Access with push button stop/start, 12V power outlets, folding heated power side mirrors, cruise control and multiple cup holders.
The rear cabin seat backs do not fold down, but there is a drop-down armrest with cup holders. The rear window power sunshade is a nice feature as are the reading lamps, air vents and the 12V/120W charge port.
The GS 450h is well equipped with active and passive safety features including 10 air bags, tire pressure monitoring system, rain-sensing wipers, hill start control, anti-theft alarm and engine immobilizer, rear view camera, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, and the previously mentioned four wheel disc brakes with ABS.
The 2018 Lexus GS 450h has earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Good rating, while the US Government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not rated the GS 450h.
The 2018 Lexus GS 450h has a base MSRP of $63,635. Clean Fleet Report’s test car had a price of $66,510. All prices exclude the $975 delivery, processing and handling fee.
The 2018 Lexus GS 450h comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain Six years/70,000 miles
- Hybrid-related Component Coverage Eight years/100,000 miles
- Basic Four years/50,000 miles
- Corrosion Perforation Six years/Unlimited miles
Observations: 2018 Lexus GS 450h
The Lexus GS 450h 2017 redesign continues for 2018. The styling is sharp with an elegant, comfortable and spacious interior. The hybrid power provides impressive fuel economy that is the best of all the Lexus GS models.
If you are not interested in owning a SUV, then the Lexus GS 450h should be taken very seriously. It can seat a family of five, or be the sporty sedan for two that sips gasoline on long road trips. When visiting your Lexus dealership, make sure to call first and set an appointment with a factory-trained hybrid specialist. You will want them to walk you through all the features, technology and options, especially taking the time to explain the hybrid system in detail. There is much to learn and enjoy on the 2018 Lexus 450h.
Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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