**Pictures on second page
Hoovey Review: 2013 Lexus GS450h
So I currently have my 2IS in for a 60K service, Cam Gear recall, and some warranty work which despite being out of warranty, Lexus is being so kind as to “Good Will” the work needed for me (another testament to the fantastic customer service). For the time being I have a loaner vehicle which given my choices between RX, IS, ES and GS I took the latter. Granted working for an Automall I’m in GS’s all the time. This however happens to be the GSh, which is far rarer than standard ICE GS’s. Without further ado a Hoovey Review of the 2013 GS450h.
The vehicle I chose was a 2013 GS450h in Starfire Pearl and Black Interior which is an excellent combination IMHO. Though I would prefer the new Ultra White as it’s a more pure white, SFP is still a rich and classy shade of white. Compared to some of the competition while the side profile may seem a little plain, the front bumper is obviously a conversation starter. While I prefer the F-Sport bumper, I will admit the Base, Luxury and Hybrid front is growing on me. This GSh had the LED Projectors which even as I type this, my eyes are blinded just from the thought of checking both low beam and high beam output at night – suffice to say they are bright. The new “L” shape DRLs give the vehicle some personality at night as do the taillights. The GSh has the blue Lexus emblems, 450h badge, hybrid markings on the side skirts and no exhaust cutouts on the bumper, which distinguish it from the GS350. Overall rear is simplistic but elegant. This one has a rear spoiler too which gives off an heir of sportiness. The GS is a good size too at 190.9in which is 10.6in longer than the 2IS. The GS is still a few inches shorter than its competition the 5-Series, E-Class, A6, XF, M37/Q70. While the exterior is a major change, its inside and underneath that defines this Lexus.
The interior of the GS has to be one of the best in class. In fact it won one of Wards top 10 interiors last year – the GSh to boot. The two most striking features of the GSh interior are one the 12.3” infotainment screen and two the matte bamboo wood interior which is by far my favorite. The cabin is rich, warm and inviting. Sit down and you’re graced with an 18-way power seat which has a cushion extender, two lumbar adjustments, an articulating seat back and my favorite the adjustable side bolsters. For comparison the base and F-Sport GS350s have 10-way and 16-way adjustable seats respectively. The GSh’s are loaded to the brim with packaged technology and features. Mine had the headlamp washers, heated steering wheel, rear seat controls, BSM, power rear sunshade and manual side shades, Park Assist and a nifty HOLD (holds the car in place without having to have your foot on the brake) button to name a few things. The leather is soft and supple and the plastics are at the level the IS, ES, CT, RX and GX should be using. All the information you need be it trip info, audio, climate or vehicle systems are easily accessible via physical buttons or with the latest generation of Remote Touch. It takes a little getting used to, but you can adjust the haptic feedback of the mouse in the Feedback Force settings in the menu to make the mouse easier to use. The navigation is worlds better than the 2010-11 (3GS) system and voice prompts work well and can understand you better. Sadly this system is already dated as the 2014 IS, GX and CT have the newest generation of navigation which includes One-Shot address entry (saying full address) rather than going through prompts. Still a decent system though. Oh and the 835watt 17-Speaker Mark Levinson sound system, well I’m no audiophile but my goodness its sublime – excellent bass and clarity. The large 12.3” screen makes it easy to have the map up while also viewing audio, climate or vehicle/trip info. Cup holders are in a good location but when you have a drink there; it does block the heated and ventilated seat controls. A non-issue for me though as I seldom use the heated seats because I’ve read it’s not good for your boys if you know what I mean
. The GS has standard LED interior lights which give it a very modern heir when they’re on. The backseat is usable and fits two adults comfortably but forget the middle seats like most RWD sedans in this class. There is no 60/40 seats or pass through because of the hybrid tech. The trunk space is night and day between the 3GSh and 4GSh, not only is there more space but the load in is more open. Thankfully there is a spare tire even though it’s not a full size. BMW’s don’t have them because of runflats and Cadillac has a large open space with a can of fix-a-flat where a spare would be. So thank you Lexus
. Back up front the glove box while not as flimsy as the ES or IS is still a bit light though it is bigger and nicely lined. The electronic parking brake frees up space where a hand or foot brake would have to go. The GS and GSh are the only Lexus’s I know of that have S-Flow which can detect if there is an occupant in a seat and will redirect air to them of shut it off in that section if no one is there - a more efficient way for climate system management. In all, the 4GSh interior blows the 3GSh interior out of the water when it comes to material quality and assembly. Everything feels more solid. Suffice to say the GSh interior is a world of wonder.
With the 4GS Lexus set out to give a new direction to the Lexus line with the DNA of the LFA and also took the opportunity to debut the spindle. While L-Finesse vehicles brought a more modern look to Lexus, the quality suffered dearly. The 4GS is the starting point for change, in not only design and technology but the driving experience. Something Lexus up until this point has lacked. The 3GS always had a rock hard suspension (to me). It would absorb bumps but rode stiff. Lexus engineers worked their magic on this chassis and suspension dynamics as it is superb. As you turn on the GS, you get a nice little *beep* and a READY light. This means the car is on even though the engine may not turn on just yet – one of those hybrid quirks. The GS and GSh like most new Lexus’s have the new Driver Mode Select which allows you to tailor transmission and suspension on the fly with the twist of a nice silver dial. I drove most of the time in Normal mode since the majority of people – non enthusiast would certainly be doing. The drive is calm, relaxed and cabin noise is suppressed at most any speed. Turn the DMS to ECO and while it recalibrates the transmission and climate control for better fuel economy I was not a fan of the pedal feel – gotta push harder to go faster, but that’s the price you pay for efficiency
. But even then with 338 total system output horsepower this isn’t your dad’s Prius and acceleration is effortless. Turn the DMS to Sport and another personality makes the GSh come to life. When in Sport the energy gauge to the left of the Speedometer turns into a Tachometer which is a neat little gimmick. Turn the DMS one more time to the right and Sport+ adds steering and suspension changes into the equation. I took this GSh out on the back roads and it out handles my 2IS which has steering damper, strut, sway, chassis brace and sticky summer tires. The power on this car surges if you stab the throttle, but because the transmission is a CVT you don’t get the gear change noise you normally do on a standard Automatic. I myself would prefer a nice 8-Speed unit in this Lexus but the CVT is smooth as silk. And the downshifts make me realize how terrible my car’s is when you go to engine brake. Pulling back on the “-“ paddle and there is essentially no delay nor clunky forward surge which to me adds so much to the refinement factor. This GSh has a few thousand miles on it, and the lowest mpg I’ve gotten was 27.4mpg and highest was 30.3mpg in mixed driving. Currently though the average has been 29.5mpg on Supreme 91 octane. The nice thing about Lexus hybrids vs Toyota ones is that the Lexus hybrids have EV modes on them which can force the car into Electric only mode under certain conditions like battery state of charge, temperature, >25mph. Of course I was on the freeway the other day and the traffic slowed to about 45mph, the engine kicked off and I was able to run on full electric between 38-41mph for about a mile and a half... splendid. The GSh seems to have a duel personality. Calm and relaxed on the daily but can turn into an animal at the twist of a dial. Think of the saying “lady on the streets but a freak in the sheets”. This is a testament to integrating Luxury and Sport and doing it well.
Truthfully there was little I could find wrong with this car for ME. To others they may fear the word Hybrid or simply don’t like its design which is subjective and that’s fine, it’s not a car for everyone. But the GS has come a long way not just for the GS line but for Lexus Hybrids. So do dismiss these newfound merits and accolades would be ignorant. The hybrid technology is getting better. It is more refined, more efficient and better integrated than the competition (I have not sampled the Panamera Hybrid but the M35h and Q50 Hybrids are nowhere near as refined as the GSh). Of course the GSh is not without flaw, the lack of a sunglass holder (like in newer Lexus models) is a notable ommission, as is the plastic at the base of the Remote Touch which is rough and scratchy. The GSh needs an AWD option (standard RWD), even if it’s electric motors driving the wheels like the RXh AWD. A comfort setting would be a welcome addition to as the LS460/600hL offer a comfort setting in conjunction with Eco/Sport/Sport+. The biggest problem however the GSh faces however is the price. Most regionally packaged GSh’s will come in a shade over $70,000. I’m sorry but that is at least $5,000 more than it is really worth. For that sort of money you would expect even better mileage, a power bump or both. Speaking of power, while 338hp is a decent number the competition exceeds it. Other than those gripes the GSh is a superb vehicle. For 2014 auto folding side mirrors, auto on heated and ventilated seats, and “8” instead of “6” gear ratios have been programed for the CVT.
Up until now the GS350 F-Sport has been my favorite GS. After this extended experience my thoughts have changed. As I get older and looking soon to replace my 2IS I’ve contemplated GS, 5-Series or even going back to a SUV. Luxury, comfort, refinement and sport are all at the forefront of my needs in my next vehicle. As much as I like the new 3IS, it lost the luxury aspect in favor of sport and I want both. The GS happens to offer the best combination of the two, and in hybrid trim it conforms even better. Before I make any decisions, I’m personally waiting to hear official information on the GS-F (allure of a V8 tempts me too) before I pull the trigger on my Master Lease Program in 14 months. As it stands, if I had to choose today any Lexus it would be a GSh in Obsidian/Black