Lexus GS 450h
If a car has sporting pretentions, it ought to have a good engine. Thankfully the engine in the GS350 is a gem. It's a 3.5L V6 unit that produces a very healthy 306 horsepower. The engine features four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing and direct injection. The Lexus manages to hit 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds while still averaging 23 mpg in combined highway/city driving. The engine is mated to a state of the art 8-speed automatic transmission, incorporating several nifty features taken from the IS-F high performance sports sedan. Downshifts are automatically rev-matched and upshifts come with little hesitation. The transmission also features an eco-mode which revises the throttle mapping and climate control systems for a more fuel efficient journey.
If power is one side of the sports sedan coin, handling is the other. Front upper and lower aluminum control arms reduce unsprung weight in the GS, improving agility, ride comfort and body control; while a newly designed rear subframe accommodates a multilink setup in the back. Overall the components are lighter and stronger. Combined with a stiffer body shell, they allow the new GS handle corners better than last year's model. However should drivers want even better handling; the F Sport package is available with goodies such as Lexus' Dynamic Rear Steering system. This allows the rear wheels to automatically turn up to 2 degrees while cornering, aiding turn in or stability.
Although the GS sportier and more extroverted than ever, it hasn't lost any of its trademark luxury. Standard interior gadgets include Bluetooth compatibility, SMS text-to-speech, HD Radio, satellite radio and of course a high-resolution 8-inch screen. This is complimented by a 12-speaker surround sound stereo, though audiophiles can instead go for the optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson unit boasting 835 watts.
The Premium package includes rain-sensing wipers, a power rear sunshade and heated and ventilated front seats. The Luxury Package builds on this, with nicer seats for in the front, rear HVAC and audio controls, rear manual side sunshades, an Adaptive Front Lighting System, Adaptive Variable Suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. Opt for the navigation system and Lexus will upgrade the center screen to a 12.3-inch high-resolution version. This screen is big enough to accommodate split screen viewing of things like maps, audio, climate and vehicle information.
The 2014 Lexus GS is also available as a hybrid. The so-called GS 450h adds an electric motor to the standard 3.5L V6. The addition of this motor boosts total horsepower to 338, while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption by about 30 percent making the GS 450h the fastest and most fuel efficient GS available, with a combined EPA rating of 31 mpg.