It's been over 10 years since hybrid technology was introduced to the North American car-buying public. Now, after a decade, Lexus has created the first mass-production rear-wheel drive luxury hybrid car in the 2009 Lexus GS 450h.
The GS 450h has all the look and feel of a fine European or Asian touring sedan with its clean, avant-garde styling, highlighted by High Intensity Discharge headlight clusters, contemporary chrome accented alloy wheels and diminutive trunk spoiler. In fact, if you didn't notice the lower case "h" factory hybrid designation, it would be impossible to identify the GS450 as anything other than a purely gasoline powered luxury sedan. Only rear deck and lower door panel logos give away its hybrid power source.
The 5-passenger GS 450h is a powerful performance sedan that couples a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine that puts out 292 horsepower and 267 pound feet of torque with a high-output permanent-magnet electric motor to deliver a combined 340 horsepower via a continuously variable transmission. This package achieves a zero to sixty time of five and a half seconds and effortless highway cruising.
Fuel economy for the GS450h is respectable... 22 miles per gallon city and 25 miles per gallon highway, while also earning a Super Low Emissions Vehicle rating from the US Environment Protection Agency.
The interior features perforated-leather-heated-power seats and burled wood trim on the power adjustable steering wheel, shift knob and throughout the passenger compartment. A moon roof is standard, as is the fold down leather armrest for rear seat passengers. Our test model came with a 10-speaker premium audio system that included a 6-disc CD changer. It shares space in the center console with the voice-activated 7-inch touch-screen navigation system.
Latest generation airbag technology protects passengers throughout, highlighted by front and rear side curtain and knee airbags for front occupants. Four wheel electronically controlled disc brakes with regenerative braking are employed to bring the car to a stop. Run-flat all season tires are provided as an option.
Base MSRP for the 2009 Lexus GS450h is $56,400. With full options selected in its only available trim, the price will top out at just under $70,000. The GS hybrid is backed by a 6-year, 70,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The 2009 Lexus GS 450h: a lot of luxury, wrapped in a clean contemporary style and powered by clean, state of the art hybrid technology.