Spending To Save: The 2014 Lexus GS450h Hybrid

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Lexus GS450h
2014 Lexus GS450h.
"Conspicuous consumption" and "hybrid" would seem to be mutually exclusive terms, but not at Lexus. You can, in fact, spend $120,000 with that carmaker for a hybrid that only gets 19 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway...the outlandish LS600h L (a "base" LS460 costs nearly $50,000 less and gets 16 in the city, 24 on the highway).

But if you'd like to make a somewhat smaller statement about your personal status and a larger one about the environment, the next step down the Lexus hybrid ladder gets you a much more rational, yet still luxurious, vehicle.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Lexus GS450h
2014 Lexus GS450h.
This is the Lexus GS450h.  Based on the Lexus GS350, which we wrote about back in May,  it has all the goodness of that car (room, comfort, style) with the added benefit of an additional 10 miles per gallon in the city (29 rather than 19) and an extra five on the highway (34 instead of 29).

Interior view of 2014 Lexus GS450h
2014 Lexus GS450h interior.
She's a beauty, and a great car to drive.  The only real sticking point is price. At a base of $59,600, the GS450h is about $12,000 more than the gasoline-powered GS350, and that's going to take a long time to make back on fuel savings.

And good luck finding one for $59,600.  It's a good bet most of the GS450h models you'll find on dealer lots will be equipped like our tester, which is to say loaded. The Lexus press fleet folks added another ten grand in options to ours ($5,255 for the Luxury Package---moonroof, power folding electrochromic heated outside mirrors, heated wood & leather steering wheel and shift knob, 19-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, auto-recirculation driver's seat/steering/mirror memory, illuminated scuff plates, LED headlamps and headlamp cleaner.  $1,380 for an upgraded Mark Levinson surround sound  audio system. $1,735 for a hard disk drive navigation system, backup camera and Lexus' Enform infotainment app suite, voice command and HD Radio. $400 for a power trunk lid, $500 for intuitive park assist, $64 for a cargo net and $105 with a trunk mat.

Fold in $910 delivery, processing and handling fee and the bottom line is $70,649.

This isn't my first go-round with a GS450h.  I've finally come to the realization that attempting to make a value argument on traditional grounds simply doesn't work here. This car is for someone of means who wants to reduce their carbon footprint, maybe save a bit on fuel, but without surrendering the luxury and reliability Lexus is famous for.  Using that yardstick, the GS450 is a success.