The Lexus GS series is now in its last model year before replacement, and its hybrid model, the GS 450h, soldiers on with the rest of the line. This fast, refined rear-wheel-drive mid-size sports sedan is aimed at the BMW 5-Series and perhaps the Cadillac CTS, but it’s not particularly roomy. Nor does it have quite the purity of purpose of either of the other two.
The GS line overall offers two gasoline engines plus the hybrid model. A 303-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 in the GS 350 at the low end is paired with a six-speed automatic, while the GS 460’s 342-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 gets an eight-speed automatic. Then there’s the GS 450h hybrid, with a specially tuned 292-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 mated to Toyota’s twin-motor-generator Hybrid Synergy Drive system, totaling 339 horsepower altogether.
The hybrid is tuned for acceleration rather than gas mileage, meaning it can rocket the GS 450h from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds—faster than the V-8 in the GS 460. But gas mileage suffers accordingly, with the GS 450h rated at a middling 22 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and a combined 23 mpg. That’s better than the slower six-cylinder GS 350, but in many cases, the real-world mileage of a GS 450h driven with even modest verve will fall below those ratings, making the hybrid a pricey but not very rational option.
Inside, the cockpit-like instrument panel sports traditional, conservative Lexus design of wood and brushed aluminum trim. It’s just not as sporty as the rest of the car would like to be. The front seats are comfortable enough, though some may find them short and flat, and there’s definitely limited headroom. The back seat, however, is particularly cramped for a car of this size, and the trunk is small too.
The GS rides firmly, but handles well. There’s little road noise and the engines are as smooth as the German competition’s. The GS line offers most standard comfort and luxury features, plus a bias toward technology that includes a Park Assist function and an active stabilizer system. Options include adaptive variable suspension with four different settings for firmness (or comfort), laser adaptive cruise control, adaptive front lights, and ventilated front seats.