The 2009 Lexus GS 450h rewards you with satisfying performance while earning nods from your eco-minded friends, but your wallet will be worse for the wear.
The hybrid system in the 2009 Lexus GS 450h is calibrated for performance, rather than absolute fuel economy. The system uses a combination of a gasoline engine and electric power, and it charges the battery system with the engine and during braking. It's also a full-hybrid system, meaning you can crawl ahead in slow traffic using electric power only. Because the 450h is tuned for performance, the EPA estimates are 22 mpg city, 25 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.
Driving the 2009 Lexus GS 450h is what you'd expect from a sport sedan. The powertrain combines a 292-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with an electric motor system propelling 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 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 2009 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. 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 insurance industry-supported IIHS tests the nonhybrid GS sedan and gives it the top "good" rating in both frontal and side impacts, with a "marginal" rating in the seat-based rear-impact test. Front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and dual front knee airbags are standard on the 2009 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 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. 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 2009 Lexus GS 450h include keyless entry, adaptive front lighting, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and front ventilated and cooled seats.
The Bottom Line:
The hybrid powertrain in the 2009 Lexus 450h is very responsive, but a tight interior and lackluster real-world fuel economy detracts from the appeal.