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2007 Lexus GS450h

The World’s First Hybrid Luxury Sedan

By Harvey Schwartz

 

he well-heeled yet eco-conscious residents of Ventura County have a dream car in the 2007 Lexus GS450h, which brings hybrid technology to the luxury segment. It combines the latest in automotive know-how with plush creature comforts and the most modern safety features.

The total experience behind the wheel of the GS450h is like no other luxury performance sedan I have driven this year. It is a top notch vehicle designed to have class-leading acceleration and responsiveness, with fewer emissions and improved fuel economy over competitive V8-powered luxury sedans. The only downside I’ve found is that the rear trunk cargo space is cut in size to make room for a battery pack, which runs the two hybrid electric motors.

Inside the roomy cabin are comfortable seats, an informative instrument cluster, easy-to-use switches and dials, plus the latest in creature comforts and safety systems that make your ride even more enjoyable. The interior is trimmed in walnut and regency leather. The seats are 10-way power-adjustable and come with a heating/cooling function, so you’ll be comfortable whether you’re cruising the coast on a foggy day or driving through Ojai when the mercury is hitting triple digits. To put it simply, you are in the lap of luxury and convenience at the same level as any other luxury sedan—but you start this Lexus by pushing a big button to the right of the wheel. No key required.

And it looks like hybrids are no longer just for the slow lane; a slight touch of the throttle makes the GS450h accelerate and pushes you deep into your seatback. The heart of the GS450h is a completely new Lexus hybrid power train that propels the car. The system combines a 3.5 liter V6 engine making 292 hp with two electric motors: Motor #1 is the primary generator, engine starter, and controls engine speed; Motor #2 is a new compact, high-output (197 hp) permanent magnet electric motor that drives the rear wheels and charges the battery. The GS450h is also the first rear-wheel-drive hybrid. With a combined system output of 339 hp, the new 3.5 liter V6 hybrid delivers the dynamic performance of a modern 4.5 liter V8 engine, and it’s as quick or quicker to 60 mph than every V8-powered competitor in its class. At slower speeds or when accelerating, the change from electric to gas is seamless.

Keeping this high-performance luxury sedan at bay are powerful brakes that are electronically controlled (ECB) and enhanced with ABS, EBD, and BA. The front rotors are vented and clamped with dual-piston calipers using high-friction brake pads to increase stopping power. The rear brakes are also vented, and are clamped with single-piston calipers. When these brakes are activated, the energy is converted to electrical power that is sent to recharge the battery. That’s another reason the GS450h never needs to be plugged in.

The styling features a long hood, pulled-back cabin with “slingshot” rear side windows, and short rear deck. The silhouette shows the lower side extensions with a rub strip and chrome strip below, which makes the car look even lower to the ground, and the sculpted rear features big, wraparound LED lamp clusters, bold integrated bumper, and a pair of polished stainless steel exhaust tips at the sides. Finishing up the aggressive good looks are 5-spoke aluminum alloy wheels with a chrome-like finish on the center spokes.

Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? With the Lexus GS450h—the world’s first hybrid powered, high-performing luxury sedan—you get powerful V8 driving, but with V6 mileage. And you get a comfortable, luxurious, and safe cabin to boot.

10-01-07

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