!>http://www.lexus.com/assets/models/anchor/small_photos/ASE_prm_img.jpg! Lexus GS Hybrid. Jim mentioned he was getting one of these over the weekend. Wow, what an amazing car. Twice as much as the Toyota Camry Hybrid, it is a screamer. It has a huge electric motor that puts out 120 plus horsepower. It can do 0-60 in less than six seconds. And it is a rear wheel drive car so it should handle better than my understeering Volvo. Anyway, incredibly expensive at say $60K with all the goodies (DVD navigation, etc.). It is the technology guys dream. Things to check in a test drive are:
* Middle rear seat. Some folks are saying that it is really too uncomfortable to use.
* Steering. LA Times said it was vague
* Gas Mileage. What can you really expect. 17-22mpg was the real world experience, what is the real world for a Camry Hybrid, most say about 28 mpg, so there is a real difference.
We had a 540i manual that I really liked, but got tired of it in the first two weeks because it just wasn’t as fun as the original 325i nor in my humble opinion did it look as unique. The BMWs these days look like Hondas. But it was a six speed so it was fun. Ultimately I sold it because it was at the end of its five year warranty and I just couldn’t handle the maintenance costs of these European cars. Same reason its time to go Japanese.
The “LA Times”: loved the car, although it did say that it is so heavy at 4100 pounds that it feels heavy when you are steering it. Also that the active suspension feels a little wierd and takes lots of space away. It has a two-speed CVT system so that at low speeds, it is a very high torque 3.9:1 drive ratio, but at high speeds, it becomes very economic dropping to 1.3:1. The result is an amazing 25mpg in the city and 28 on the highway compared with its 8-cylinder equivalent Lexus which gets 18/25 although in actual real world, Cnet for instance got 17mpg average.
“CNet”:http://reviews.cnet.com/2007_Lexus_GS_450h/4505-10865_7-31833144.html also really like it, although it isn’t the paragon of car rating, this thing really appeals to a car geek. 9/10. As they say it is a showcase of Toyota technology. Options includre a voice activated GPS with Bluetooth hadnsfree calling as well as letting you play a DVD on the 6″ screen in front ($1,900) so you can go to the restaurant listing and then it dials them through your phone. Kind of cool. Also you can get a 16-speaker audio system ($1780) if the standard 10-speaker one isn’t enough. Total cost of that model was $65,794! The standard equipment is amazing with a 10-way power seat, six disc in-dash changer standard. They didn’t like the voice commands very much, you have to train it, unlike the one in our Acura MDX. Anoher kind of strange thing is a radar cruise control which uses a radar to avoid traffic, but basically was so conservatively set it kept going off. They also didn’t like the variable steering which basically at low speeds, increases the sensitivity of the steering wheel, but at high speeds, it damps down the turning ratio. Of course in Seatle, you have to get all the options, there isn’t a choice. It is $65K period, so at least the choices are easy 🙂
“Wikipedia”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexus_GS#Third_generation_.282005-present.29 has a good description of the car and it technology and a good “Edmunds”:http://www.edmunds.com/apps/vdpcontainers/do/vdp/articleId=109609/pageNumber=1 review where it says that the real world fuel efficiency for that driver was 22 mpg and it says a real world 8-cylinder gets 12-14 mpg (my 540i was about that in the city, it could get to 25mpg on the highway, but in the real world, it was getting about 15mpg and our Volvo 850i which does lots of highway is lucky to get 16mpg and our Acura MDX which is mainly a city car gets 14mpg usually). A another good point is that the sport suspension setting really does firm thing up. It really does do 5.5 seconds to 0-60mph but more importantly, it is very torquey and fast at 0 mph because of the electric motor. Main drawbacks are its small trunk (7.5 cubic feet vs. 13 cubic feet for the GS 430, so that fou suitecases would never fit). The center rear seat is raised and would be uncomfortable, unlike the Camry Hybrid which is really designed for five people.
“Road and Track”:http://www.roadandtrack.com/article.asp?section_id=6&article_id=3367 did a quick review but not a full road test.
Another side note is that if you buy it by September 30, you get a full tax deduction. $1500 for this car assuming you aren’t hit with AMT. The rebate falls by half after that. You have to take delivery by then by the way.