No other luxury automaker has dedicated itself to hybrid vehicles as much as Lexus, and that expertise was made clear in a recent Motor Trend magazine comparison. The all-new 2013 Lexus GS 450h available at Lexus dealerships prevailed over the 2012 Porsche Panamera Hybrid and 2012 Infiniti M35h, emerging as the superior high-performance luxury hybrid.
Motor Trend editors evaluated each vehicle based on the quality of their interior features, as well as their drivetrain refinement, handling and how efficiently they operate as a hybrid. While the Porsche’s interior and handling reflected its price tag, which was over $30,000 more than its two competitors, it couldn’t match the overall package provided by the 2013 Lexus GS 450h. The Lexus hybrid earned praise for its agile cornering, its leading fuel economy and intuitive interior features like a large 12.3-inch touchscreen.
“Lexus has used its position as a hybrid innovator to make the GS 450h’s efficiency an intricate part of its performance, unlike the puffed-up Porsche and the unrefined Infiniti,” said Eric Rosen, general manager of New Country Lexus of Latham, an Upstate New York Lexus dealer. “If not for the badge saying so, you would never know the GS 450h is a hybrid because the driving experience is completely seamless. There are no shudders or hesitation, just smooth acceleration.”
Motor Trend noted shudders from both the Panamera Hybrid and Infiniti M35h as the vehicles switched between electric and gasoline modes. Both models feature similar hybrid drivetrains, utilizing a V6 engine attached to an electric motor with a conventional transmission. The Lexus GS 450h, however, uses an entirely different system to smooth out transitions, featuring one planetary gearset that acts as a continuously variable transmission and an additional gearset to improve efficiency at high speeds.
The Lexus GS 450h’s fuel-efficient drivetrain showed its value in Motor Trend’s highway and city driving tests, easily leading the pack by returning 33.5 mpg at freeway speeds and 35 mpg in the city. The Infiniti could only muster 31.5 mpg and 30.2 mpg, respectively, while the Porsche lagged even further behind. Though the Panamera Hybrid made up for its lackluster efficiency with its acceleration and speed, its performance wasn’t nearly as surprising to Motor Trend testers as the impressive, fine-tuned handling of the GS 450h.
The improved cornering ability in the 2013 GS 450h comes thanks to Lexus’ focus on creating a sportier feel for the entire new Lexus GS family, and it has reaped rewards in the showroom. Last month, Lexus dealerships sold more than 2,000 GS models, an increase of 421 percent compared to April 2011. Those sales made the Lexus GS the brand’s third-best-selling car in April, coming behind the IS and the best-selling ES luxury sedan. Overall, Lexus car sales were up 11.7 percent year-over-year last month.
“New York drivers are finding that the new GS is just as fit for back-road cruises as it is for the everyday commute, and opting for the hybrid model doesn’t mean losing out on the fun,” Rosen noted. “Lexus is always pushing to innovate and improve its models, and the GS is an impressive reminder of those efforts.”