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HIGH BRED 2.0

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Sep 5, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

HIGH BRED 2.0 By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

The all-new 2007 Lexus GS450h brings hybrid technology to the luxury sedan segment. Not only that, the GS450h is a hot-bed of the latest in automotive technology utilizing electronics for hydraulic systems with the latest in creature comfort and safety features. The total experience behind the wheel of the GS450h is like no other luxury performance sedan that I have driven this year. It is a top-notch luxury performance sedan designed to have class-leading acceleration and responsiveness, with fewer emissions and improved fuel economy over competitive V8 powered luxury sedans. Starting with the basics, the styling features a long hood, pulled-back cabin with 'slingshot' rear side windows and short rear deck. The aggressive front fascia features HID headlamps, the signature Lexus grille with chrome surround, a lower valance with a large center air intake, and integrated fog lamps at the sides. The low hood, overall height, wider rear tread and flared front fenders create an aggressive appearance. 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. The sculpted rear features big, wraparound LED lamp clusters, bold integrated bumper and two, three-inch wide, polished stainless steel exhaust tips at the sides. The rear wing atop the trunk is an option. Hybrid badges are located on the lower rear door moldings and lower trunk lid. Finishing up the aggressive good looks are wheel well-stuffing 18x8 five-spoke, aluminum alloy wheels with a chrome-like finish on the center spokes. These stunning wheels are wrapped with 245/40ZR Dunlop summer tires to added grip and a smooth, quiet ride.

The steel unitized structure is very strong and torsionally rigid, with extra bracing and crossmembers strategically located to give the famed Lexus smooth and quiet ride. Other noise and vibration inhibitors include an acoustically dampened glass windshield, lightweight asphalt sheets for interior noise reduction with additional sound-absorbing asphalt sheets behind the instrument panel. The flat underbody also improves aerodynamics and noise performance. All body panels are made of rust-resistant steel, with narrow and precise body gaps. Lexus says that the GS450h cuts through the air with a very low 0.27 co-efficient of drag - further inhibiting wind noise. The heart of the all-new GS450h is a completely new Lexus hybrid powertrain that propels the car. The system combines a 3.5 liter V6 engine making 292 horsepower, with two electric motors, Motor No. 1 is the primary generator, engine starter and controls engine speed, Motor No. 2 is a new, compact, high-output (197 horsepower) 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 horsepower, the new 3.5-liter V6 hybrid delivers the dynamic performance of a modern 4.5-liter V8 engine, and is as quick or quicker to 60 mph, than every V8-powered competitor in its class. With an outstanding 0-60 mph time of just 5.2 seconds, I suspect that Lexus is very conservative about the total power output of 339 horsepower. The car weighs 4,134 pounds (386 pounds heavier than the GS430), and goes from 0-to-60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. It must be closer to 400 horsepower for that type of acceleration. The transmission utilizes an advanced two-stage motor torque multiplication device for the Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) motor. With 1-6 gears and sequential shifting, you can also manually change gears quickly and smoothly. Responsiveness is very impressive. Just a slight touch of the throttle makes that car acceleration and pushes you deep into your seatback. At slower speeds or when accelerating, the change from electric to gas is seamless. The GS450h returns a surprising EPA-rated 25 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. It looks like hybrids are not for the slow lane anymore. The suspension is fully independent and dialed-in just right for both a luxury ride over poorly paved surfaces and quick response to your inputs. Up front are double-wishbones with high-mount upper arms, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. The rear has a multi-link setup with high-mount upper arms, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers and stabilizer bar.

This is no ordinary suspension system. It comes with Adaptive Variable Suspension, which includes driver-selectable shock absorber settings (Normal/Sport) and an optional Active Stabilizer Suspension System that equips the front and rear stabilizer bars with an actuator. Wheel-speed and steering-wheel angle sensors send information to the system's Electronic Control Unit, which calculates how much force is need to help keep the vehicle flat in a turn. This information is then sent to the front and rear actuators that torque the stabilizer bars thus increasing the vehicle's sway resistance. The steering is also unique because the GS450h uses Electric Variable Gear-Ratio Steering. This system automatically adjusts the rack-and-pinion steering ratio based on the speed of the vehicle. At lower speeds, few rotations of the wheel are required for 'lock-to-lock' turning. At higher speeds, a slower steering ratio is used to help maintain your control. This system also provides a surprisingly good feel for the road. Keeping this high-performance luxury sedan at bay are very powerful brakes that are electronically controlled (ECB) and enhanced with ABS, EBD, and BA. The front rotors are vented and measure 13.1-inch clamped with dual-piston calipers using high-friction brake pads to increase stopping power. The rear brakes are also vented and measure 12.2-inch 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 why the GS450h never needs to be plugged in. The Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system (VDIM) integrates and manages ECB, ABS, BA, EBD, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), and Electronic Power Steering (EPS). Even with these systems, you can turn traction control off, and still get the ability to pump adrenaline into your system for heart pounding excitement when the situation is right then really enjoy the thrill of the high-performance capabilities this all-new sedan exhibits. 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 wood/leather, tilt/telescoping steering wheel feels great in your hands and contains buttons to operate the audio and multi-function display controls. The shift knob is also leather-trimmed, and the center console features walnut and chrome trim on the shift gate. The door scuff plates are stainless steel and stamped 'Lexus.' Thick pile carpeting and floor mats feel good under your feet. The seats are 10-way power-adjustable and come with a heating/cooling function. The center console also features walnut and chrome trim on the shift gate. The exclusive three-pod analog instrument cluster features Electro Chromatic Device (ECD) variable transparency glass give extra visibility in varied light conditions. You get a big 160 mph speedometer, a KW gauge replaces the tachometer, and smaller fuel/engine coolant gauges. A 'drop-down' panel located left of the steering wheel conceals switches for outside mirrors, fuel lid opener, trunk release, combination meter brightness control; odometer/trip reset, headlamp washer, rear sunshade, park assist, AFS (adaptive front lighting), and interior lights. All buttons, switches, dials and levers are within easy reach of your hands. The center stack features a seven-inch multi-information touch screen with the navigation map, back-up camera view, graphic to show the functioning powertrain, audio system, and climate system controls that are real easy to use and understand. The rear gets a pull-down armrest with dual cupholders, rear air-conditioning, map pockets behind each front seat, and reading lamps with retractable coat hooks. Convenience features include Bluetooth wireless telephony technology, three-position Lexus memory for driver's and front passenger's seats, one touch up-down windows, power door locks, rear sunshade, one-touch open-close moon roof, cruise-control, EC rearview mirrors, retained accessory control, soft-touch automatic dual-zone climate control, auto-recirculation feature with smog sensor and micro dust/pollen removal filter, one-touch up/down windows with power door locks, power rear sunshade, cruise-control, retained accessory power, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, front reading lamps and grab handles above each door. All Lexus GS450h models come with the superb Mark Levinson Audio System with 14 speakers, ultra-low crossover distortion, advanced discrete ampphifier design, 7.1-channel speaker architecture with 11 channels of amplification, and DVD audio and video capability.

Inside, you are in the lap of luxury and convenience at the same level as any other luxury sedan. The engine starts and stops simply by pushing a big button to the right of the wheel. Just keep your keys in your pocket, and away you go. Lexus safety systems are one of the best in the industry, so the GS450h comes with it all: Driver and front passenger airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbag, force-limiting seat belts with pretensioners for driver, front passenger and outboard rear seats, VSC, ABS, BA, EBD and EPS, padded instrument panel, highly rigid cabin, impact-dissipating upper interior trim, front and rear crumple zones, tire pressure monitor, daytime running lamps, and adaptive front lighting system. Optional is the Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, active stabilizer bars, all-season run-flat tires, and a rear spoiler. Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too? With the all-new Lexus GS450h, you get V8-like high performance driving but with V6 mileage to take you more miles per fill-up, a comfortable, luxurious, convenient and safe cabin. The only downside with the GS450h is the rear trunk cargo space. It's cut to 7.5 cubic feet to make room for the battery pack that runs the two hybrid electric motors. The all-new 2007 Lexus GS450h is the world's first hybrid powered, high-performing luxury sedan. It is definitely worth the base price of $55,595.00, and my test vehicle with the Mark Levinson audio system and rear spoiler came to a reasonable $59,275.00.

© All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT Version 2.0 of the high bred hybrid comes the closest yet to having your cake and eating it too. For more information on Lexus products, go to www.lexus.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: 2007 Lexus GS450h Price of vehicle: $55.595.00 base, $59,275.00 as tested Engine type: 3.5-liter V6 aluminum block/heads, Hybrid System-Primary generator 1, engine starter, controls engine speed, Motor generator 2-drives rear wheels, regenerative braking. Horsepower: V6 - 292 hp at 6,400 rpm; Hybrid Motor 1-180 hp, Hybrid Motor 2-197 hp Torque: V6-267 lb-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear wheel drive Transmission type: 6-speed automatic, power and snow modes Front suspension: Independent double-wishbones with high-mount upper arms, coil springs, gas-filled shocks, stabilizer bar Rear suspension-multi-link with high-mount upper arms, coil springs, gas-filled shocks, stabilizer bar Adaptive Variable suspension (AVS) with driver-selectable shock absorber damping Wheels/Tires: 18X8 five-spoke aluminum alloy 245/40ZR18 all-season radials, 245/40ZR18 run-flat tires optional Brakes: Front-13.1-in. vented Rear- 12.2-in. vented ABS, EBD, BA, ECB (electronically controlled brakes) with VDIM Overall length: 190 in. Overall width: 71.7 in. Overall height: 56.1 in. . Curb weight: 4.134 lbs. EPA mileage: 25 mpg/city, 28 mpg/highway 0-60 mph: 5.2 sec.

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