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2012 Lexus GS450h F-Sport owner review

B Lord
Author
Published
PROS
  • Fuel economy
  • Power
  • Handling
CONS
  • Back seat slightly cramped
  • Boot space impeded by battery
  • Some sunroof rattles

About the Lexus GS450h

B Lord purchased this Lexus GS450h used for $36,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2020. B Lord would buy this car again because: “I would buy it again because it represents great value for money, and it’s a car that was one of the best in a segment that’s slowly dropping off. The GS has been discontinued from 2020, after its last update in 2016.

The fuel economy, power, and handling are excellent for a vehicle in this class.”

How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

I purchased the GS450h with 118,000km on it, and being a hybrid I did have my concerns over the lifespan of the battery. I’m pleased to report that at 162,000km, I have not had to perform any maintenance of the car outside of regular fluid changes, and a set of front and rear brake pads.

The entire car is essentially original. The brake pads met their demise after a hard day at Wakefield Park, doing an odd 40-50 laps, where they held up really well and resisted fade. They were the original brake pads up until 130,000km, which is a great result!

The shock absorbers are the original KYB units. They have adaptable damping and drive control modes. They still firm up in Sport+ and aren’t at the end of their life yet.

The 12V battery in the boot is still the original 2012 stamped Panasonic unit, after 10 years and 160,000km.

What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

I think it’s the perfect car for anybody that wants a large luxury sedan, without breaking the bank.

The ride quality is excellent, as is NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness). The handling far exceeds what’s expected from a car in this class.

From a day to day perspective, the GS450h is an excellent car to live with. I benefit from only servicing it every 15,000km, and that’s just an oil/air filter and fluid change.

I really enjoy the driving experience it delivers, and the fit and finish and quality of interior materials is excellent in my opinion.

Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

Absolutely!

It’s not for the faint of heart purchasing a car that’s nearly 10 years old and on the wrong side of 100,000km for the same money as a new Camry Hybrid Ascent, but I do not regret my decision.

The GS is absolutely loaded with tech considering the age of it, and fortunately it all works!

It really was a front runner back in its day, and for near $130,000 on-road new, you expect that.

What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

Lets run through the driving dynamics tech first of all:

  • Variable Gear Ratio Steering, meaning the car can adjust the steering rack ratio on the fly, and throughout different driving speeds and Comfort/Sport/Sport+ settings.
  • Adaptive Variable Suspension: If the specs are to be believed, it continually adjusts the shocks to cater for the current conditions, in regards to steering angle, yaw etc.
  • Dynamic Rear Steering: A maximum of 1.5 degrees of rear steering input. Below 90km/h opposite to the front wheels, above 90km/h with the front wheels.
  • Aluminium: After briefly owning a Mk7.5 Golf R, I’m a stickler for cars with aluminium underpinnings.
  • Reducing unsprung weight and assisting in rigidity, it cannot be understated the benefits that come with components such as aluminium control arms, crossmember, and double wishbone suspension.

Propulsion is provided by the venerable 2GR family of engines. You’d be familiar with these if you’ve ever driven a Toyota Aurion, Kluger, V6 RAV, and the list goes on.

It’s a nice engine, that’s always returned respectable power and economy figures. In the GS450 it’s a slightly modified version called the 2GR-FXE, which runs an Atkinson cycle, invented by James Atkinson in 1882 no less.

One thing the 2GR has struggled with is low-down torque, resulting in the heavier vehicles such as Klugers needing a proper boot and plenty of revs to access the 200kW on tap.

The GS is no lightweight, coming in at 1910kg kerb. Without weighing it, I’d say it’s over two tonnes with a tank of fuel and a driver, however this is where Lexus’s hybrid synergy drive comes in to play.

You have an effortless amount of electric assistance to pick up the slack, and this really compliments the well-mannered 2GR under the hood. I would say it is akin to the feeling of torque fill. The car is extremely linear and V8 like in its power delivery.

Fuel economy for me has seen tank averages as low as 7L/100, but without paying any attention to how I drive it, it’s always under 9L/100 – and that’s not being nice to it.

The CVT, is well, a CVT. Not in the traditional sense. It doesn’t use a belt like something from a Subaru or a Nissan, and the integration with the electric motors ensures an abundance of power. It’s not like an underpowered four-cylinder, in which the tacho peaks redline while you watch your speed slowly creep up, no, it’s very different. The engine is happy to sit at 1500-2000rpm for most “reasonably spirited” traffic light departures.

It’s when you’re more than half throttle that the revs start to really pick up. By the time the car has reached 5500-6000rpm on the tach, you’re doing 110km/h, so there is no incessant droning as you’re waiting for the car to pick up speed. It’s more akin to having a single gear.

What do you think of the technology in your car?

In regards to interior tech, it punches a bit above its weight for a car built in 2012.

My car is fitted with the enhancement pack, which adds the following:

  • 12.3-inch infotainment screen
  • Bi-LED headlights
  • 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system

The first thing you notice when you hop in the car is the massive 12.3 inch infotainment screen. It does use the controversial “knob” to navigate through the menus, as opposed to the later touchpad setup. I haven’t had any problems with navigating the menus.

The car still retains a physical climate control panel, so there is little point in interacting with the screen at all really, unless you’re brave enough to navigate Sydney’s streets with 10 year-old maps.

The GS is equipped with Bluetooth audio, and DAB radio would you believe?! Both work well. No dropouts to report, and the sound quality over Bluetooth is excellent. The stereo really shines in this car, and it’s one of the reasons I’m hesitant to replace the car for something else.

Things that make driving safer:

  • All speed radar cruise control. Yes, down to 0km/h, with a 5 minute hold. Tap to resume. It’s there. This has only become a proper mainstream feature in the last two years, yet here it is, one of the first cars to feature it I believe. It works every bit as well as any more modern car I’ve driven.
  • Pre-collision braking, which even works low speed, 10-15km/h.
  • Blind spot monitors
  • Front + rear parking sensors.
  • Auto wipers
  • Auto headlights (auto high-beam!)

Can I rate it anything other than a 10? I’m not seeing why I shouldn’t honestly!

Even Apple CarPlay can be easily retrofitted with an aftermarket computer.

What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

I’ve covered a lot of it in the performance section, and I tend to view performance as more than just how much power a car has.

The handling is exceptional for a car nearing two tonnes. I managed to achieve a 1:15 at Wakefield Park, which was enough to outdo no less than four Honda S2000s there on the day, not to say those cars wouldn’t be capable of sub 1:10 with the right drivers and setup.

The adaptive dampers do a great job of controlling the ride on the shock dyno that is Parramatta road. It’s a great test for any car.

Similarly, you can barrel through B-roads at speeds not mentioned, and the body compliance is just amazing considering the originality and age of the suspension components it’s equipped with. Sport+ mode really sharpens the steering and ride, to the point that you can surprise a lot of people, until your tyres get too hot and grip starts to fall off.. There’s always a problem with being heavy.

In regards to interior comfort, there are no less than two separate lumbar supports for the driver, as well as the electrically adjustable bolsters if you wanted a tighter grip in the corners. And we can’t forget the extending front section. The seat is almost infinitely adjustable for most body types, and I cannot picture anyone thinking it’s not.

The steering wheel has electric tilt and telescope, which comes into the easy exit/ingress setting, upon shutting the car off, the seat moves backwards, the wheel tucks itself away, and you have virtually no issues getting in or out of the car, which is an excellent underrated feature.

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Ratings
Overall8.8
Show Breakdown
Technology 10
Reliability 10
Ride & Handling 8.8
Price & Features 8
Performance & Economy 7.5
Ownership Experience 8.6