- Awesome acceleration
- Very responsive and refined hybrid powertrain
- Lots of active and passive safety features
- Real-world mileage is no better than the GS 350's
- Tight backseat
- Limited headroom all around
Get the 2008 Lexus GS 450h, and you'll earn the nod from your eco-minded friends; you'll have satisfying performance, but your wallet will be worse for the wear.
A performance-focused hybrid system in the 2008 Lexus GS 450h combines a 292-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with an electric motor system, driving the rear wheels. Altogether, the hybrid powertrain makes 339 horsepower and can push the GS 450h to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds—faster than the V-8-powered GS 460.
A performance-focused hybrid system in the 2008 Lexus GS 450h combines a 292-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with an electric motor system driving the rear wheels. Altogether, the hybrid powertrain makes 339 horsepower and can push the 450h to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds--faster than the V-8-powered GS 460.
The hybrid powertrain is very responsive, especially for quick passing maneuvers, and pins you back in the seat in hard acceleration. It's a full-hybrid system, meaning you can crawl ahead in slow traffic with electric power alone. During most driving, the system uses a combination of the gasoline engine and electric power, and it charges the battery system with the engine and during braking. But the system in the 2008 Lexus GS 450h is calibrated for performance, rather than absolute fuel economy, so EPA estimates are 22 mpg city, 25 mpg highway versus the Lexus GS 350’s 19/27 mpg; according to the experience of owners and TheCarConnection.com's editors, the hybrid’s real-world mileage is even lower.
The 2008 Lexus GS 450h isn't at all averse to being driven like a sport sedan. The shifter has a manual mode that simulates six different gears, and there's impressive stability in corners, even when the road surface turns rough, thanks to the double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear. The electric-assist steering is well weighted, but it doesn't convey much road feel.
The GS interior is a major drawback, as it sorely lacks backseat space, and headroom is limited in front. The ride isn't always perfect either; it can be harsh on rough patches and railroad crossings. The 2008 Lexus GS 450h gets a conservatively styled but sporty-feeling instrument panel, while seldom-used controls are kept out of the way in a drawer.
And there's no shortage of high-technology features inside to live up to the image of a sport sedan for green geeks. Standard features on the 2008 Lexus GS 450h include keyless entry, adaptive front lighting, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and front ventilated and cooled seats. The options list includes an excellent navigation system with voice address entry, laser cruise control, and a 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system with DVD audio/video capability. Another noteworthy option is the active stabilizer system--which provides the advantage of a heavier stabilizer bar almost instantaneously without sacrificing ride quality.
Front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and dual front knee airbags are standard on the 2008 Lexus GS 450h. Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), a stability control system that closely integrates the steering and brakes, is also standard. Included with the optional laser cruise control is the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which prepares safety systems for an anticipated collision. The insurance industry-supported IIHS has tested the nonhybrid GS sedan and given it the top "good" rating in both frontal and side impacts, with a "marginal" rating in the seat-based rear-impact test.