New Car Review: 2013 Lexus GS450h

White 2013 Lexus GS450h front three-quarters view at dusk with trees and hills
The 2013 Lexus GS450h.

Regular TireKicker readers know we consider the 2013 Lexus GS a big step forward...especially in F-Sport trim. So, how does it do with most sporting intentions swapped for eco-friendliness?

Well, we've always been a fan of big hybrids. For the technology to really work, it needed to move upmarket from small people-movers, and Lexus gets big points for diving in and applying it to everthing up to and including its flagship LS model.

But...tech costs money. Most hybrids are significantly more expensive than the conventionally-powered versions of the same model, and that's certainly the case for the GS450h, which is $12,050 pricier than the GS350 (there is no non-hybrid 450 this year).

2013 Lexus GS450h rear three-quarters view
The 2013 Lexus GS450h.

The immediate payoff is in fuel economy. The gasoline-powered GS350 has an EPA rating of 19 city/28 highway. Not bad for a car in this class, but the GS450h leapfrogs those numbers...estimating 29 city/34 highway. That's 10 more miles on a gallon in town...an additional 6 on the open road. And based on our week with the car, those numbers are realistic.

You give up nothing in terms of speed, because the GS450h total system horsepower (gas and electric) is 338, 32 more than in the gas-powered GS350.

And the exhaustive list of standard equipment is there as well...17-inch alloy wheels, all the airbags a car can hold, vehicle dynamics, stability control, brake assist and traction control systems, rain-sensing wipers, Bi-Xenon headlamps with washers and LED running lamps.

As noted in the GS350 and GS350 F-Sport review, the new GS interior is a thing of beauty. With the GS450h, you get perforated leather trim on the heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a moonroof, auto-dimming inside and outside mirrors, dual-zone climate control, a premium audio system with voice recognition, HD radio with iTunes tagging, a DVD/CD player, Bluetooth, USB and SiriusXM. There's also white LED interior illumination, a power rear sunshade and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. All that is standard.

And then come the options. Six of them on the window sticker of our tester. $242 for trunk mat, cargo net and wheel locks...$500 for a blind spot monitor....$500 for Intuitive Park Assist.

And then the big ones: $1380 to upgrade to the Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System. 17 speakers, 835 watts, 7 channels. Sounds great.

$1735 for HDD navigation with a 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display including Lexus Enform, an app suite including Pandora, iHeartRadio and OpenTable, SiriusXM NavWeather and NavTraffic, plus sports and stock updates (including a one-year trial subscription).

And finally....the Luxury Package (what the heck do you call everything else that's in the car?). $5645 for heated rear seats, 18-inch nine-spoke alloy wheels with painted silver finish and all-season tires,  Bi-LED headlamps with adaptive front lighting, a heated wood and leather trimmed steering wheel, three-zone climate control, 18-way power front seats, and rear door manual sunshades.

Bottom line?

Sure you want to know?

With $875 delivery, processing and handling fee....$69,827. Which, to be fair, is only about 11 grand more than the GS350 F-Sport. And given that the LS600h we drove topped $110,000, I suppose we could call this a "mid-price luxury hybrid".

Again, though...a car like this isn't about being an all-around economy champ. It's about cutting-edge tech and luxury in a vehicle that does less damage to the environment than luxury car owners could ever have dreamed of a few short years ago. And on those grounds, the GS450h aces it.