Lexus GS450 rings in next-gen hybrid

2012-12-22T11:10:00Z Lexus GS450 rings in next-gen hybridJim Jackson Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 22, 2012 11:10 am  • 

Toyota’s up-scale Lexus luxury division wraps 2012 with its “December to Remember” Sales Event, placing new cars donned with big red bows into holiday buyers’ garages.

“In terms of sales, we do more business in December than any other month of the year,” says Ric Coven, sales representative for Lexus of Merrillville. “It’s been that way since Lexus started.”

According to Coven, Lexus offers special deals and best interest rates during the Christmas Season. “Lease rates in particular are especially good,” he said.

For 2013, Lexus puts a seasonal spin on its next-generation GS450h hybrid sedan with duel technologies that build 338 total horsepower from a 3.5-liter, V6 gasoline engine and electric assist motor.

GS450h features the brand’s second-generation hybrid drive system that mates a V6 gasoline engine with a water-cooled electric motor sparked by a continually-charging nickel-metal hydride battery coupled to an on-board generator.

The two propulsion systems work independently or in tandem depending on the power demand.

“Lexus GS450h has phenomenal acceleration with the hybrid assist motor,” Coven said. “Its instantaneous power performs more like a V-8.”

On the greener side, GS450h delivers fuel economy of 29 miles per gallon/city and 34 mpg/highway, for a 35 percent improvement in mileage over the previous generation’s 22/25 mpg respectively.

The rear-wheel drive, five-passenger GS450h uses a continuously variable (automatic) transmission rather than a conventional six-speed automatic to govern the hybrid drivetrain for butter-smooth shifts through the power band.

Eco, Normal and Sport modes controlled by a dial on the center console fine-tunes the GS hybrid’s driving experience.

Last week, I tested the mid-size 2013 Lexus GS450h through the red rock region of the desert southwest near Sedona, Ariz., where S-curves are plentiful and the posted Interstate speed is 75 miles per hour.

My road tour was accompanied by three adult passengers who enjoyed the vault-like quietness of the two-tone leather wrapped cabin in town and on the open road.

Only the acoustic interlude of holiday music streaming through the optional ($1,380) Mark Levinson 17-speaker surround sound audio system broke the silence.

The GS450h ride quality is superb with comfortable rear seat leg and hip room for two adult riders. A standard power sunshade tempers the sunlight and heat through the rear window.

Up front, bamboo-style wood highlights the instrument panel accented by brushed aluminum trim.

Interior wood trim takes up to seven days to complete. An available wood steering wheel requires 38 days to build. Cabin craftsmanship and fit and finish are first-class.

I do find fault with some of the navigation (optional) functions, however.

Though the system’s mouse-like controller on the center console is intuitive, some of the multi-layered functions within the navigation system are not. The “map voice” feature in particular was absent from easy use.

Base price for the 2013 Lexus GS450h without navigation system starts at $58,950. Add $875 for freight.

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