2013 Lexus GS450h

We've covered the interior and exterior styling, amenities, and driving character of the new Lexus GS with a conventional powertrain already. Now we have the opportunity to see what the new GS, which we quite admire in standard form, is like with a hybrid powertrain. My takeaway impression is that you're aware that you're driving a hybrid, but you're not annoyed by it. By that I mean, the brake pedal and accelerator inputs are far more natural in feel and response than they've been in previous Toyota and Lexus hybrid models. The steering is a little artificial and could use more feel, but it's accurate. Body control is admirable. Best of all is the powerful off-the-line acceleration: the powertrain sounds throaty and strong and the power delivery is linear, not abrupt. Freeway merging is deeply satisfying. What's more, goose the throttle at 80 mph and you'll be at 100 mph before you can say, "I just bought a Lexus GS450h!"

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

This was my first time behind the wheel of any new-for-2013 GS, and I was duly impressed with the interior the first moment I stepped inside. The instrument panel was handsome and trimmed neatly in stitched leather; the blonde wood trim attractive; the seats supportive and infinitely adjustable; and controls - especially the Remote Touch commander - logically arranged.

But to invert the old adage, you do pay for what you get. It turns out most everything I swooned over is part of an optional Luxury Package, which also throws in 18-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlights, tri-zone climate control, and rear-door manual sunshades. It also adds a sizable $5645 to the price tag, bringing the base price to our GS450h to $65,470. That price doesn't even include a full navigation system, so if you'd like something more than a compass displayed on that beautiful LCD screen, you'll need to pony up some more.

A GS approaching $70,000 seems steep, but the GS450h actually falls into the middle of its segment. BMW's ActiveHybrid 5 starts at $60,000 before options (though it includes navigation). The Infiniti M35h is nearly $6k less expensive, offers an equally fabulous interior, and an impressively powerful hybrid drivetrain to boot. It's the bargain of the bunch.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

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