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Edmunds, Full Test: 2007 Lexus GS 450h

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pow    106

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...cleId=109609#11

Muscle car with a conscience

By Philip Reed Email

Date posted: 03-13-2006

I was about to pass judgment on the fuel-efficiency of the 2007 Lexus GS 450h when a friend of mine, a real captain of industry, telephoned. I told him what I was driving and that it was a hybrid.

"What kind of mileage are you getting?" he asked.

"About 22 miles per gallon," I answered.

"Twenty-two?! That's fantastic!"

Considering that my friend is in the target market for this scary-fast luxury sport sedan, with an all-new and super-smooth powertrain, I gave his opinion extra weight. To me, "hybrid" means fuel-efficiency. To my friend it means, well, a way to appease his conscience while having a blast behind the wheel. (Note: The non-hybrid GS 430 won our Japanese sport sedan comparison test, beating out the 2005 Acura RL and the 2006 Infiniti M45.)

Power vs. fuel economy

This hybrid, the first rear-wheel-drive hybrid, is all about performance and power, no doubt about that. It's so quiet and so fast it offers a new driving paradigm in which seemingly anything is possible. Is 75 mph not fast enough for you? Let's try 90. Dab the accelerator and the engine responds with a great visceral thrust. Seconds later, there you are, flying by lesser cars in astonishing silence, as if they are being gobbled up and spit out the rearview mirror.

Is this a good thing? Do you really need all this power? That isn't a relevant question for buyers in this category, like my friend, the captain of industry. These people want everything all at once and, with this car, that's quite possible. We only hope that the people who buy this car will use that power responsibly.

To be fair, this remarkably smooth and powerful hybrid powertrain delivers performance at a savings. To get this kind of power from a conventional engine, you'd need a monster V8 getting perhaps 12 to 14 miles per gallon. (In fact, Lexus named it the 450 because it delivers the power of a 4.5-liter V8.) This 3.5-liter, 24-valve V6, with variable valve timing, delivers 292 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm.

The gasoline engine collaborates with a new high-output, permanent magnet electric motor-generator rated at 197 hp (actually the system uses two motor-generators, but only one drives the wheels). With the gas and electric motor combined (using a mysterious formula), the total system power is 339 hp. Lexus says the 450h will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and get up to 28 mpg. Our testing delivered zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds, and over about 300 miles of driving, we averaged 22 mpg. For that kind of performance, even 22 mpg is darned good.

A new driving paradigm

But the specs tell only half the story. The 450h delivers something a conventional engine could never offer, no matter how gargantuan it is. The hybrid powertrain is mated to a newly designed, electronically controlled continuously variable transmission that somehow doesn't produce the irritating drone that plagues earlier CVTs. Instead, the transmission — which offers three driving modes: Sport, Snow and Normal — feels like you're driving in a parallel universe where the torque band is as wide as desire itself.

There are so many safety/performance systems under the skin that Lexus has lumped them all under the heading of Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system (VDIM). VDIM includes a host of acronyms such as ABS (Antilock Braking System), BA (BrakeAssist), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), ECB (Electronically Controlled Brakes), EPS (Electronic Power Steering), TRAC (Traction Control), VGRS (Variable Gear Ratio Steering) and VSC (Vehicle Stability Control). These computerized systems work together with advanced engineering that simultaneously enhances driving pleasure while adding safety.

Several of our editors objected to the feel of the front and rear ventilated disc braking system, saying it was nonprogressive, providing too much initial clampdown with a light touch. However, the GS 450h came to a stop from 60 mph in only 123 feet — not bad for a car with a curb weight of 4,134 pounds. The different brake pedal feel is easily adjusted to and quickly blends into the overall driving experience.

When the car is driven for performance, a "sport" suspension setting can be selected that noticeably firms up the double-wishbone, coil-spring suspension. This Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system, along with an optional active stabilizer, reduces body roll during cornering.

At the track, the GS went through the slalom in 6.4 seconds at 63.6 mph. The steering felt a bit numb but the ratio was pleasing. The stability control was activated if there were any sudden steering inputs. During high-speed maneuvers, the grip was exceptionally well balanced, thanks in large part to the 18-inch Z-rated Yokohama tires. For acceleration trials, the car was tested with the traction control (TRAC) turned off, but it re-engaged automatically at speeds over 32 mph. It was nearly impossible to detect the traction control interfering with acceleration; instead it seemed to make more power available to the driver.

Improved hybrid powertrain

Interestingly, our drivers found this hybrid system more refined than earlier such systems. The GS 450h operates in all-electric mode up to about 15 mph, delivering a wonderfully smooth surge of acceleration. Then, when the gas engine kicks on, it fires up seamlessly without any of the disruptive shudder experienced in earlier hybrids. Test drivers tried to deplete the battery pack's power, but found the regenerative braking to be extremely efficient as well as quiet.

While we rave about the driving experience, there are also a few unexpected drawbacks to this otherwise amazing car. Because hybrid batteries are stored behind the backseat, the trunk offers only 7.5 cubic feet of storage space, while the non-hybrid GS 430 offers about 13 cubic feet. Four suitcases or golf bags would be nearly impossible to fit in the GS 450h's trunk for the four passengers it can comfortably accommodate; it seats a total of five, but the center seat in the rear is raised and would be uncomfortable to sit on.

Interior design and layout

The car we tested was a preproduction model, so it's possible there will be changes to the interior once production starts. However, we were annoyed by the reflection from the high-gloss wooden center panel that surrounds the gearshift. The dashboard, a black textured surface, has been given character lines similar to a car's angular exterior styling. This is attractive but creates a hazy look to the inside of the windshield.

And finally, many controls — including the trunk release and fuel-door release — have been mounted behind a drop-down dash panel to the left of the steering wheel. If this panel is left open, the driver will bang his or her knee when climbing in or out of the car.

Still, this is a handsome luxury sport sedan that is endowed with many thoughtful features and comes loaded with advanced technology. The optional navigation system (and rear backup video camera) has a high-resolution screen with enhanced graphics. The Adaptive Front light System (AFS) helps the driver see around corners; the interior lighting is subtle but elegant, like a night at the opera. The rear sunshade automatically folds down, and the wing mirrors tilt down to aid visibility when the car is put in reverse to park.

Heated and ventilated front seats provide 10 different adjustments to offer customized comfort for the driver and front passenger. While the seats are extremely comfortable, make sure to give this vehicle a longer test-drive; some of our taller drivers complained that they weren't comfortable with the headroom.

A tough competitor

A car should be evaluated in terms of its target audience. With that in mind, I gave the GS 450h to a top Edmunds.com executive for his opinion. The next morning, he enthusiastically reported that it was one of the few cars he had driven lately that he would consider spending his own money on. "I think BMW and Mercedes will be watching this car very closely," he said. Final pricing had not been announced as we went to press, but Lexus said the GS 450h would sell for about $6,000 over the GS 430's price tag of about $51,000. This means that when it rolls into showrooms in April it should compete favorably against the German cars that often dominate the luxury sport sedan market.

I can't help wishing that the wonderful hybrid powertrain in this car had been tuned more toward the economy end of the spectrum since, let's face it, warp-speed acceleration isn't going to make the world a better place to live in. But Lexus is in the business of selling the 2007 GS 450h to its target market, and that group of buyers will be giddy with excitement over this remarkable car and the superior driving experience it offers.

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...cleId=109609#11

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regfootball    234

"the trunk offers only 7.5 cubic feet of storage space"

"And finally, many controls — including the trunk release and fuel-door release — have been mounted behind a drop-down dash panel to the left of the steering wheel. If this panel is left open, the driver will bang his or her knee when climbing in or out of the car."

"some of our taller drivers complained that they weren't comfortable with the headroom."

"Several of our editors objected to the feel of the front and rear ventilated disc braking system, saying it was nonprogressive, providing too much initial clampdown with a light touch. "

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Flybrian    0

Perhaps remarkable, but you have to ignore some rather interesting defects to say it offers a 'superior driving experience.' Its not all about 0-60 and handling, its about living with the car and 7.5 cuft trunk is hillarious.

And 22mpg out of a six? Uh, Lexus, FYI, my 4000lb decade-old non-hybrid V8 sedan with no tuneup averages 20mpg. BMW is also advertising some of their 5er models get up to 30mpg highway, more than this hybrid.

Let's no one make fun of the Silverado/Sierra hybrids anymore. At least you can plug things into them.

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regfootball    234

Perhaps remarkable, but you have to ignore some rather interesting defects to say it offers a 'superior driving experience.' Its not all about 0-60 and handling, its about living with the car and 7.5 cuft trunk is hillarious.

And 22mpg out of a six? Uh, Lexus, FYI, my 4000lb decade-old non-hybrid V8 sedan with no tuneup averages 20mpg. BMW is also advertising some of their 5er models get up to 30mpg highway, more than this hybrid.

Let's no one make fun of the Silverado/Sierra hybrids anymore. At least you can plug things into them.

but its a L E X U S

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Edited by Flybrian

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VenSeattle    8

Final pricing had not been announced as we went to press, but Lexus said the GS 450h would sell for about $6,000 over the GS 430's price tag of about $51,000.

Uhm...

I'd rather sacrifice the .5 sec 0-60 time and save $6,000 by purchasing the $51k GS430 with 0-60 in 5.7sec with a real trunk. Oh... and the GS430 gets est 18/25. No big change in MPG.

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regfootball    234

Americans with money are dumb. they hear the hybrid is the next big thing and and line up in droves with checkbooks. Most folks like that only go off what they are told or hear, they never take the time to inspect and compare data like that themselves.

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sciguy_0504    0

Sigh...

More claims about gas mileage that are just as dubious as the EPA test itself.

More misunderstanding about hybrids.

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Snate    0

More misunderstanding about hybrids.

Not really. Toyota uses gas mileage as its marketing tool...not how clean it is. Let Toyota advertise it just runs cleaner with no increase in mileage and see how many people line up to buy one.

Not a whole lot I bet.

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Petra    0

(Note: The non-hybrid GS 430 won our Japanese sport sedan comparison test, beating out the 2005 Acura RL and the 2006 Infiniti M45.)

IIRC, Edmunds was the only reviewer who found in favour of the GS. Virtually everybody else, even Consumer Reports, liked the Infiniti better.

It was at that line that I stopped reading, because I knew then that the rest of the article would just be a huge fellatio of the GS430h. From a quick skim, it looks as though I was right.

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BrewSwillis    0

Lexus says the 450h will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and get up to 28 mpg. Our testing delivered zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds, and over about 300 miles of driving, we averaged 22 mpg.

There's another difference between Toyota (and the other Asians), and the Domestics. Toyota will publicly report numbers that can't even be achieved, as opposed to Domestic companies who usually report less ambitious numbers, that can usually be beaten.

They some how manage to get a free pass though.

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pow    106

There's another difference between Toyota (and the other Asians), and the Domestics.  Toyota will publicly report numbers that can't even be achieved, as opposed to Domestic companies who usually report less ambitious numbers, that can usually be beaten.

They some how manage to get a free pass though.

All manufacturers pulish EPA figures... so domestic ratings aren't less "ambitious", just lower.

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sciguy_0504    0

There's another difference between Toyota (and the other Asians), and the Domestics.  Toyota will publicly report numbers that can't even be achieved, as opposed to Domestic companies who usually report less ambitious numbers, that can usually be beaten.

They some how manage to get a free pass though.

Please. We have been down this road before and the scenery is really getting tiring.

All manufacturers advertise EPA test results. Not Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, C&D or Edmunds fuel economy results but EPA results because, by law, that is the only entity that can provide advertise-able MPG numbers.

I have seen in various tests that the new Tahoe does not achieve its official EPA rating. You could say it is getting a free pass because it does have the best MPG numbers in its class. Again, how many of you want to bet that GM finally got a brain and starting manufacturing its engines to achieve the best EPA results rather than just being a great, groundbreaking engine?

0-60 and 1/4 mile numbers will differ between tests, also, something fairly easy to show.

I have also seen Toyota, Honda and Ford advertising that deals with lower emissions and I am positive I will see them for Saturn Greenlines and the GMT900s.

:deadhorse:

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Flybrian    0

Regarding the numbers, they're all generally inaccurate, but as long as everyone is using the same standard, you have no one to blame but the EPA.

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pow    106

I was MAINLY talking about the 0-60 numbers.  What company reports 0-60 numbers that the magazines can't beat or even duplicate?

Cadillac with their CTS-V, Pontiac with their GTO, and Chevy with their Z06.

Cadillac: 4.6 sec

Edmunds: 5.1 sec

Pontiac: 4.6

Edmunds: 5.7

Chevy: 3.7

Edmunds: 4.5

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Intrepidation    846

Cadillac with their CTS-V, Pontiac with their GTO, and Chevy with their Z06.

Cadillac: 4.6 sec

Edmunds: 5.1 sec

Pontiac: 4.6

Edmunds: 5.7

Chevy: 3.7

Edmunds: 4.5

lol, burned

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toyoguy    0

Perhaps remarkable, but you have to ignore some rather interesting defects to say it offers a 'superior driving experience.' Its not all about 0-60 and handling, its about living with the car and 7.5 cuft trunk is hillarious.

And 22mpg out of a six? Uh, Lexus, FYI, my 4000lb decade-old non-hybrid V8 sedan with no tuneup averages 20mpg. BMW is also advertising some of their 5er models get up to 30mpg highway, more than this hybrid.

too bad you'd need a 550i 6MT to run the GS450h and still lose

GS450h

1/4mi 13.68 @ 104.23

yet edmunds gets 15.2mpg for the Northstar

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...088/pageId=1462

Edited by toyoguy

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toyoguy    0

Cadillac with their CTS-V, Pontiac with their GTO, and Chevy with their Z06.

Cadillac: 4.6 sec

Edmunds: 5.1 sec

Pontiac: 4.6

Edmunds: 5.7

Chevy: 3.7

Edmunds: 4.5

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...91/pageId=67979

STS-V

5.1

13.35 @ 106.2

11.4mpg

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...27/pageId=63055

Chrysler 300C SRT-8

5.7

14.11 @ 104.99

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...69/pageId=65832

Dodge Charger

5.4

13.48@105.31

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Snate    0

too bad you'd need a 550i 6MT to run the GS450h and still lose

GS450h

1/4mi 13.68 @ 104.23

yet edmunds gets 15.2mpg for the Northstar

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...088/pageId=1462

Did you know that the STS V8 (you know...the GS's real competitor) costs 10K less? I mean 10K is going to buy you a lot of fuel.

It's even funnier because the STS is a bigger car with more cabin and trunk room...and the Lexus is barely faster.

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BrewSwillis    0

Cadillac with their CTS-V, Pontiac with their GTO, and Chevy with their Z06.

Cadillac: 4.6 sec

Edmunds: 5.1 sec

Pontiac: 4.6

Edmunds: 5.7

Chevy: 3.7

Edmunds: 4.5

:duh:

O.K., so I guess Edmunds sucks at driving. Maybe the GS 450h (Imagine telling people "Yeah, I have a GS 450h".....a what?) will get the factory numbers with real drivers from Motor Trend and C&D??

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Northstar    11

I think Edmunds does suck at driving. I've seen both the CTS-V and GTO come in at 4.7 to 60, so I'm sure GM's test drivers can get them each a tenth quicker. MT got the Z06 to 60 in 3.5.

As for the GS 450h... 22MPG is pretty impressive (assuming they were mashing the throttle quite often), but I'm not sure I see the need/use for luxury hybrids. If you can afford a $50k car, you shouldn't be too worried about gas mileage unless it's really bad.

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22 mpg? That's it? Where's the wonderful Hybrid hype in all this? Buy a Lax or Lucerne and pocket the $$$ for gas. This overpriced Toyota Tercel is about as impressive as a piece of burnt bacon on white bread. :deadhorse: Any moron who pays 50 grand for this piece of tin needs to have their head examined. A Buick should make mincmeat out this Lexass for half the price and provide the top notch quality that overratted Toyota can't hold a candle to in the REAL WORLD.

Don't believe the hype. Lexass, the relentless pursuit of finding suckers to buy our Toyotas for too much $$$

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