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About a year ago I posted my thoughts on my first year of owning my first Lexus, a 2008 GS450H SE-L.  

 

That was then, and this is now, so I figured a two year report might be a benefit to existing owners as a comparison, or potential owners considering a GS450 of this vintage.  I'll stick to the same format as last year, just for consistency.

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The Car
Clearly it's the same car as last year, but has now done around 82,000 miles, around 24,000 more than when I bought it from Lexus Edgware Road.  Just to recap, it's a 2008 SE-L, with ACC, PCS and the extended wood package.  Fully loaded, oh yeah.

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Driving Experience

Still the same, it's still smooth and fast without being particularly sporty.  It disguises speed very well and it's easy to find yourself zooming down a road doing naughty miles per hour having just given it a bit of a squirt.  The low speed ride is fine too, and like I said it last time it's fabulous in low speed stop start traffic.  Creeping along silently on electric power alone is brilliantly serene, and is a sensation I'll miss if I move back to a non-hybrid car.

One thing I have started to find a bit frustrating however is the car, despite being at launch (in 2005) the second quickest car in its class after the BMW M5, really doesn't want to use the power it has.  An example is accelerating onto a dual carriageway from a roundabout or a slip road you might expect that a 340 bhp saloon wouldn't hang around, and to be fair it doesn't, but it's not really using its full potential - it's about as brisk as a modern turbo diesel saloon, think 520D or similar.  If you DO want convince the various propulsive methods to hustle you down the road in a harmony of 3.5L V6, electric motor, Battery, and grinning then you not only have to floor it, but kick down so the magic button seemingly under the right pedal is engaged.  This serves to open up the full tine of beans and then it absolutely feels fast, but also like you're on a mission.  I appreciate I'm being picky, but I'd like 100% of available power without needing to change the DEFCON level to do it.

The infotainment system continues to impress.  Having now driven a bunch of brand new Lexus I find their fiddly menus and weird mouse controls a retrograde step compared to the simple clear touchscreen in my GS.  I never did bother fitting the £500 GROM VLINE (see why below), but I still use the Lexus iPod adaptor, plus a simple Bluetooth FM transmitter to stream amazon Music from my Iphone to the car stereo, which with all the Mark Levinson gubbins sounds great to my ears.  The Bluetooth phone integration, while not modern enough to sync phone books from iPhones, works really well and is super clear, and 10 minutes spent programming in the numbers you want to call regularly has served me perfectly well.  After all, you can still dial from the phone if you need to (while stationary obviously, we're all law-abiding in Lexus land). 

I still find the fuel tank annoyingly small.  320 odd miles between fill ups is still par for the course for me.  An 80 litre fuel tank would be better.

All in all though, great car to drive.

 

Maintenance

Still glad I bought the warranty...  My record keeping has been less comprehensive this past year, but I did have the 80,000 service done fairly recently, and had a new set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4s fitted.  The previous set of identical Michelins lasted about 20,000 miles which I think is perfectly fine for a heavy performance saloon.  Great tyres too, grippy and quiet, no complaints.  

The 80,000 mile service was about £500, less a discount for being a LOC member, and the tyres were about £130 each with my Lexus dealer price matching Blackcircles.

I had a new set of front brake discs and pads done, that was about £300 less some discount.

I had a Lexus/Toytoa dash-cam fitted, that was about £200.  Very happy with this incidentally!

The following items have been replaced under warranty in the past year.

  • 3 x TPMS sensors
  • Left rear parking sensor
  • Differential drain plug
  • Gearbox earth strap

I'm also told that one of my front shocks is "misting" but this can't be replaced under warranty as it's not "failed".  I'm miffed about this so am pondering my next move.

 

Fuel Consumption

My anally retentive habit of recording my fuel usage petered out when my wife started using the car more.  I wasn't prepared to tell her to record the mileage before refuelling, keep the fuel receipt, , reset the trip, then carefully present all data to me for tapping into my app to show strangers on the internet - I don't want to confirm I'm that weird.  However, the fuel consumption hasn't really changed.  On a long motorway run it'll top 30 mpg, and crawling through traffic it will do about 25 mpg.  I'm still averaging about 28 mpg by my reckoning which I don't really mind, but it does perturb me when I see others on here are getting 35 mpg averages in near identical cars.  How are you guys doing this?!?!  Sometimes I make a concerted effort to drive like I have the Queen and Prince Phillip in the back which sees me just holding onto about 30 mpg, but one 10 mile journey running late and utilising the performance sees the numbers tumbling back to 27.9.  Oh well.

 

Owning my Lexus

This is where it all starts to unravel a bit.  I live in Cambridgeshire and work in Cambridge, therefore logically enough use Lexus Cambridge to work on my car.  The past year has seen them decline from their distinctly average quality to something approaching quite crap.  I won't bore you all with the full details, but there have been issues where what I've asked for during the booking in process has not been done, consistent time overruns, very poor quality washing, having to chase them up for answers to questions or reports of progress, and on one occasion money (about £4 in parking coins) was actually stolen from my car.  I reported this to the service manager, complete with photographic evidence and they duly fired one of their car cleaning staff.  I did receive an apologetic phone call from a senior dealer bod which was nice enough but given the Lexus reputation I was expecting a bit more contrition.  It was especially galling that not long after this episode I had to book my car in for something else and STILL had to chase them up.  Not cool, not fun, and not why I bought a Lexus if I'm honest.  Lexus Cambridge verdict: Must try harder.  3/10

I'm minded to try a different Lexus dealer, but apart from it being less than sensible finding a dealer when there's one 5 miles from my work, all the dealers in my area are part of the Steven Eagell group, so I'm not sure I'd be getting anything different aside from a whole new level of inconvenience in going further away. 

Final thoughts.  I wouldn't be quite as miffed with Lexus Cambridge if I didn't have to deal with them so often, which I wouldn't have to do if the car had fewer problems...  Lexus reliability anyone?!

 

Will I keep my Lexus?

This part will be as much a life update as a car update.  The answer to will I keep my Lexus in the long term is almost certainly no.  The reason why is principally this little guy.

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That's my number three child, who was something of a happy surprise!  This means I currently am the registered owner of a seven year old, a five year old, and a 6 week old.  All three of my offspring legally require car seats, and as such it is obviously necessary to own a car capable of accommodating the whole family.  Daddy, Mummy, and Cost Centres 1, 2, and 3.  

This was achieved in part by getting rid of our Toyota Prius earlier in the year and replacing it with a 2012 Volvo XC90 - a seven seater SUV my wife barrels around in, propping up the profit margins of Shell and BP.

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The Volvo manages to fit all three child seats in the middle row, for now, and when the baby needs a bigger seat we'll bring the third row seats into play.  It's a good car to be honest and I enjoy driving it, recognising it weighs 2.5 tonnes fully laden and only has 200 bhp.

You might imagine that the GS, as a fairly large car, would also be able to fit three child seats in the back.  You'd be wrong.  Due to the shape of the seats there's really no way to get all three of them in, let alone doing so safely, and until my children reach the size where they can sit in a car without needing a child seat as a family we're now in a position where only one car can carry everyone which feels a bit risky.

While this is probably going to be okay for now with my wife on maternity leave, it almost certainly will be limiting in the future - no giving lifts to friends, no spare family car if the Volvo needs work, etc, and if I'm minded to change the Lexus anyway then I'm going to choose to replace it with a car capable of fitting my whole family in.

This coupled with my distinctly underwhelming dealer experience has thus affected my view of my Lexus.  I won't get rid of it while it's still under warranty and I'll want to see how family transport is shaping up, but I am likely to move it on in another 12 to 18 months.  Therefore I'm not going to fit a VLINE, I'm not going to respray the few stone chips on the front bumper, and I'm not going to imagine it's the car I'll own for the long term, which was not necessarily the case a year ago.

 

Thoughts on Lexus as a brand

Not positive really.  My dealer experience hasn't helped with this, but neither have the new vehicles I've used as courtesy cars.  Thanks to frequent service and warranty work I've driven a couple of CT200s, an IS300, and two NX300s, and find them all bit lacking.

Aside from the aforementioned fiddly infotainment there's a sense they are over-styled, with a lot of angles and 'design features' for the sake of it.  I'm also not a fan of the fact that all the models seem to have flappy paddles, sport modes, and other 'performance' guff which is purely cosmetic.  Why do you need flappy paddles on a car with one gear?  Why bother having a rev counter when the car doesn't change gear?  Why is the knob that changes the driving mode bigger than the knob that turns on the stereo?  Why all the sporty nonsense on a car that is blatantly not a performance car?!

To be fair I don't for one moment think Lexus is alone in this.  I see enough humdrum 3 and 5 Series with M SPORT badges and stripy grills, and S Line/AMG Line seems to be the default choice in for otherwise perfectly nice normal cars the UK.  I just find it a bit disappointing that the virtues that Lexus do/should have, like comfort, reliability, being different, and so on, seem to take second place to this pseudo-sporty lifestyle claptrap.  On this basis I don't really like any of the new Lexus models and can't really see me owning a Lexus again for a while, at least not until the seven-seater RX450-L comes into my acceptable price bracket.

 

Would I recommend a GS450H?

Yes!  It's a good car, and it's honest about what it is.  I wouldn't say mine has been especially reliable, but in reality probably no worse than the equivalent German car of a similar age.  Here's to another 12 months.


Thanks for reading.

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Thanks Andrew.

You have written what seems to be an honest assessment of your experience and circumstances.

Lexus Cambridge do not come out of it well

20,000 miles from a set of Michelins is poor by my standards, but your fuel consumption figures are in the Parish of mine.

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How time flies hey Andrew, it doesn't seem that long since your initial review. 

The GS still looks great and it's obvious that you've taken good care of her* (or 'it' for those folks that are sensitive to such endearments).

It's such a shame that your local dealer didn't step up to the mark set by their inflated prices, from your comments they've clearly tarnished your experience.

Regarding mpg...I average 35 across a good mix of roads/speeds but steady cruising at or slight above the legal limit sees high 30's/low 40's.  If I drive around town all day with lots of stop/start, especially in winter then my mpg's will get pulled right down.  I don't hoof it everywhere but do give her a good prod every now and then.  Driving style, roads, traffic, etc will all play a part so we're bound to see quite different figures.

The sport and power buttons in my car definitely make a difference to performance, even in normal mode it's no slouch.  But I hear what you're saying about how other vehicles drive e.g. diesel's, they feel very different with plenty of low end grunt.  Some are quite comical tho as the surge can run out after 1k rpm and then all you experience is lots of noise but little else.  

Your repairs seem pretty typical for an older vehicle and I'd wager that it's been much cheaper than if you'd had a BMW/etc.

Anyhoo, it's always good to hear from you and fingers crossed to the next 12 months ownership and Lexus dealer #2.

Oh and congrats expanding your Cost Centres aka ankle biters, CC's made me chorkle.

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Hi Odysseus

Interesting read for me as i have just brought a 450h sport 2008, I did read your last year report, because I use the M4 motorway with all the roadworks for planned smart motorway and speed limit of 50mph i am getting 41mpg so far, road works should last a few more years so pretty happy with that

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Thank you Andrew for your write up, as someone who is looking to purchase one around 2008 it's really helpful, it's concerning about Lexus Cambridge, when I had my RX300 Lexus Coventry were outstanding, if you decide to sell your vehicle let me know as it's obviously a well cared for car and the timing could be good

Congratulations on the addition to your family

Grant

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Thanks chaps for the comments and the warm words on my expanding family, it's always good to get the feedback of the forum collective. 

With regards to my hopeless dealership: Does anyone else use Lexus Cambridge?  If so, are my unlucky experiences unique?

Anyway, the 'limited power you get unless you kickdown' thing has been playing on my mind more, and I've been doing some (very unscientific) testing. 

If I extend the throttle all the way to the floor WITHOUT KICKDOWN then the power needle jumps to about 150 KW and stays there as the car gathers speed.  If I definitively boot it, engaging kickdown, it gives you the full bananas, spinning the KW needle up to about 250.  This happens regardless of whether you are in normal driving mode, or Hybrid Power mode.

Some light googling has informed me that 150 KW equates to about 200 bhp and 250 KW equates to 335 bhp (basically the full power of the car). 

This corroborates my observation that under 'normal' acceleration it's similar to a BMW 520D as these are in the region of 200 bhp.

I appreciate this could all be a bit nonsensical as torque and everything else plays a part, but figured it might be interesting to people.

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Sad to hear that some Lexus dealers are dropping their standards. I hope this isn't the start of a trend that seems to be affecting virtually every other business as far as customer service goes. Will be taking my GS250 in for its first service next January so will be interested to see what experience I have. 

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On 7/11/2019 at 11:40 AM, Odysseus said:

Thanks chaps for the comments and the warm words on my expanding family, it's always good to get the feedback of the forum collective. 

With regards to my hopeless dealership: Does anyone else use Lexus Cambridge?  If so, are my unlucky experiences unique?

Anyway, the 'limited power you get unless you kickdown' thing has been playing on my mind more, and I've been doing some (very unscientific) testing. 

If I extend the throttle all the way to the floor WITHOUT KICKDOWN then the power needle jumps to about 150 KW and stays there as the car gathers speed.  If I definitively boot it, engaging kickdown, it gives you the full bananas, spinning the KW needle up to about 250.  This happens regardless of whether you are in normal driving mode, or Hybrid Power mode.

Some light googling has informed me that 150 KW equates to about 200 bhp and 250 KW equates to 335 bhp (basically the full power of the car). 

This corroborates my observation that under 'normal' acceleration it's similar to a BMW 520D as these are in the region of 200 bhp.

I appreciate this could all be a bit nonsensical as torque and everything else plays a part, but figured it might be interesting to people.

It's not only that - if you don't slam it to kickdown, it takes a VERY long time to reach those 150kw, even with "power mode" (a.k.a. changed pedal position mapping) engaged. If you kick it, it builds the RPM for 1/4sec or so and then it's takeoff time... or it just barks once and stays still, as it's very easy to lose traction, and then it's a couple of seconds without any substantial amount of "go" whatsoever due to VSC.

Even with power mode engaged and holding it "in gear" (a.k.a. in adequate RPMs), there's still some throttle lag if you ask for full power. 

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i have just purchased a 450h that my wife will be using 4 days out of 7 , she uses my gen 2 gs300 sport (se) 2003 with 88k oin it and gets ..........33 mpg ave according to computer , ( 1 mile of b road then 14 miles of motorway then 1 mile of b road , then same return) so cannot wait to see what she get out of "h"

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ERRRR 32 MPG AVE ?

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10 hours ago, hondansxr said:

ERRRR 32 MPG AVE ?

That`s about right, so somewhere between 26 and 38.

Mine gives 35 overall.

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A great honest write up.
Without driving for economy what I call spirited driving on country roads "no dual carriageways or motorways" on a 50 mile "100 mile round trip" run I get 38 + mpg. Driving with economy in mind, but not holding anyone up I can easily get into the low 40's. When I can find a motorway going where I wan't to go I would think I would get into the high 40's.
I find braking traction near impossible unless the roads are wet the limited slip diff taking care of traction. On the same theme I find no hesitation when accelerating as long as I have hybrid power mode on. The sport mode does alter throttle response, but the real advantage of this is the stiffening of the shocks. If the road surface is poor this can lead to a harsh ride though. 

John. 

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Only the IS-F (2010+) has an LSD in this platform. All other 2IS and 3GS models use an open diff, despite some brochures claiming otherwise. Torsen in a 450h has been done, but... it's a bit of a rabbit hole. Aftermarket torsens/clutch packs are available, of course - drexler (likely OEM torsens for toyota), sard, cusco, os giken, ats, so on.

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  • Club Hybrid Poll

  • 208 Hybrid Reliability

    1. 1. If you were to consider buying a Hybrid model over 5 years old, would you be worried about the reliability of the Hybrid system?


      • Not really as Hybrid systems are always reliable
      • Not if it had a Manufacturers Warranty on the Hybrid system
      • I would not buy a Hybrid model over 5 years old