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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
tuned for even more performance and has the rear-wheel drive to handle it
Hybrid powertrain lacks immediate kick of V8
the continuously variable transmission never stopped hunting
Car and Driver
The 2008 Lexus GS 450h [is] composed and well-balanced
The 2008 Lexus GS 450h has reasonably good handling, but its hybrid powertrain doesn’t provide a substantial fuel-economy gain over the gas-powered version.
Autoblog reports this Lexus 2008 vehicle is "tuned for even more performance and has the rear-wheel drive to handle it." Between the gasoline and electric motors, the power plant "will produce more than 300 horsepower and get the hybrid moving to 60 mph in less than six seconds--almost equal to the…V-8."
According to Cars.com, this 2008 Lexus's "direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is shared with Lexus' smaller IS 350 sedan," which teams up "with two electric motors--one providing power during startup, the other boosting acceleration--for a combined 339 hp." Automobile points out "gasoline and electric propulsion units really do work as a single entity." ConsumerGuide notes that the "hybrid powertrain lacks immediate kick of V8, but does surge ahead with dispatch," an impression confirmed in Car and Driver: "when all the ponies and volts are online, the 450h is capable of respectable haste."
There were a couple of criticisms with the transmission. Car and Driver complains "the continuously variable transmission never stopped hunting." Automobile notes that "the continuously variable transmission acts more like a standard automatic in its engine-braking abilities--just slide the lever over into 'S' and toggle down through six 'gears.'" This source adds that the "faux downshifting doesn't help with acceleration, but the GS doesn't need it."
Fuel economy is reasonable at EPA ratings of 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway--but considering this Lexus 2008 vehicle is a hybrid, "[not] exactly a quantum leap…nor are they as good as the Mercedes-Benz E320 CDI's 27/37 mpg." Automobile does note, however, that it's "far less polluting than the diesel Benz--even the upcoming Bluetec version." It’s also no clear improvement over the Lexus GS 350 V-6’s 19/27 mpg.
TheCarConnection.com's experts note many comments regarding the hybrid’s overall handling. Car and Driver complains of "numb steering," adding that "the total absence of feel in the electric power steering reminded one tester of an early-'80s Lincoln Town Car." ConsumerGuide acknowledges that this Lexus 2008 model is "comfortably unruffled on smooth pavement" but also points out "minor float over large humps." Brakes provide "strong stopping control, but...pedal action is either too mushy or too sensitive." Edmunds says that "[the] unusual pedal feel is quickly taken in stride, however, and the regenerative braking system otherwise stops the 2-ton GS 450h quickly and with reassuring authority."
According to ForbesAutos, "a sophisticated Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system coordinates the car's electronic power steering, stability control and electronic brake system," allowing it to deliver "good road feel, ride comfort and cornering."
The 2008 Lexus GS 450h performs as well as a V-8—but doesn’t get much better fuel economy than its V-6 would alone.