Sleek and stylish on the outside, the Lexus GS 450h represents the new, more emotive Lexus brand.
Well, you can’t call Lexus plain anymore. And while you may or may not like the look, it’s certainly emotive, sleek and worthy of comment. That wasn’t always the case with a Lexus vehicle, but no longer, as the GS 450h continues in a new era for the company, ushered in by the 2006 GS 300 and GS 430. This new design features supple lines, taut expression and a feeling of motion – even at a red light. Notable differences from the previous GS include a longer hood and wheelbase, a wider rear track, a lower stance, and more overhang. The grille’s design seems shorter and sharper. In back, the dual exhaust looks great, and the wheel wells fit the design of the vehicle. Perhaps most notable, however, is the profile, an arcing roofline that connotes forward motion and which seems to have come from the Toyota Prius. Combined with the short deck in back, the Lexus GS – from the 300 to the 430 and the 450h – is luxury in motion, a smooth, fast-moving sedan that evokes the desires of today’s luxury buyer.
Once inside, you are greeted with what you expect – lots of leather with wood trim, and a cockpit designed for drivers. Leather inside the GS 450h comes in three colors: black, ash and cashmere, while interior wood trim is offered in either maple or walnut. As you’d expect in a Lexus, using the navigation and audio controls is easy and intuitive. Entertainment enjoyment – another Lexus standard – is also in full force inside the GS. The standard ten-speaker, 134-watt stereo includes a DVD player and hook-up for XM satellite radio, in addition to the usual fare. In case you want to upgrade your sound experience, you can get your GS fitted with the Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound system, which includes 14 speakers and a 330-watt amp. Navigation controls, as well as Bluetooth technology, can be handled by pressing a button on the navigation screen. Ten-way, heated and cooled power seats provide adequate and comfortable support, and most people will find that the GS 450h offers enough leg and headroom. We generally found the sedan to be comfortable inside, though more hip room, head room and especially room in the back would make for a more enjoyable jaunt.
None of this should be a surprise – even the somewhat cramped quarters. Lexus has built its name on interior comfort, and while its new design (low sloping roof, short overhangs, long snout) compromises room somewhat, the GS 450h nonetheless admirably holds up the comfort tradition.