2013 Lexus GS 450h: A Backseat Review

Life happens in cars, enjoy the ride. That tagline from She Buys Cars pretty much sums up my life. Between ferrying the kids to school, running errands, getting stuck in traffic here in the DC/Baltimore metro and our frequent family road trips a good portion of my time is spent in a car.

The same is true for the Little Nuggets. We are a family on wheels. My kids have become quite the car experts along the way. With each car I review, they put in there two cents all well. They like leather seats, aren’t fans of seat-belt air bags (too stiff and bulky). In their opinion every car should come with a rear seat entertainment system and wireless headphones. Shocking, I know. Their favorite color, oddly enough isn’t red or black, but silver.

We recently spent a week with the 2013 Lexus GS 450h. While shooting video for my review, Little Nugget #4 interjected that she thought she should be the one talking about the backseat, after all when was I ever back there anyway? I suspect that part of this was a desire to be on camera, the kid is a total ham!

The biggest “wow” feature for me was the Lexus Enform App Suite. I make no bones about it, I am a wired mom. I have been known to go through mild withdrawal issues when finding myself in a WiFi dead spot. This car was designed for drivers like me! With the App Suite I was able to make dinner reservations, find the cheapest gas and even check the weather. You can also order movie tickets on the fly, connect to Facebook and more, all using the industry’s first available 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display. Cool huh? It gets even more cool. The GS 450h has it’s own mouse. Yep, you can navigate your way through the plethora of features in this car using a mouse, much like the one on your desk.


While the mouse and all the tech features are very intuitive, I did also find them a bit distracting. This could be because my car is virtually a covered wagon in comparison. Whatever the cause though, I did feel that I spent an excessive amount of my time with the car trying to figure out all the features. There is a tutorial feature, but I didn’t find it very helpful. That said, I’m sure that, were I to purchase this car, taking advantage of the one-time free setup at the dealer would make a world of difference.

A Few of My Favorite Things

  • Combo moon/sun roof.
  • For a sedan, the cargo space is great.
  • Lexus Enform with App Suite.
  • 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display.
  • Mark Levinson® Premium Surround Sound Audio System. (Rocked the tunes in the pick-up line at school, adding to the features by making the kids cringe.
  • Heads Up display. (This displays your speed and the direction you’ll need to turn when using the navigation system right on your driver’s side windshield.)
  • Rear-seat climate and audio controls. (available with the Luxury Package, which the car I drove had.)
  • Rain-sensing intermittent windshield wipers with mist cycle. (This was a great feature during the soggy trips we took.)
  • Drive Mode Select with Normal, EV, ECO, Sport S and Sport S+ modes.
  • Power rear sunshade. (this was such a thoughtful touch. I can see it being perfect for long sunny, summer road-trips. It also automatically goes down when you put the car in reverse.)
  • Cousins to the power sunshade, the rear windows have two-part manual sunshades as well.
  • Lane Departure Warning.
  • Intuitive Park Assist. (Which admittedly, I need.)

Things You Need to Know

  • You are buying a luxury motor vehicle. The total “sticker price” of the model we tested: $71,407.00
  • The EPA estimate for MPG on this model is 29 city/34 highway. I drove a combo of both and average around 33 MPG.
  • All the tech features are going to take a nice chunk of time to get used to.
  • The “mouse” can be distracting.
  • The manual rear sunshades tend to be hard for little hands. They also “snap” back into place with a force that might not stand up to repeated use by little folks.
  • The front spoiler is very low. Several times I had to park well behind parking bollards to avoid bumping them or having them scrape the undercarriage.
  • The front cup holders have a tension bar in them that can (and did) puncture some take-out cups.
  • While the rear passenger features, like climate and volume control are nice, they may not be good for families with younger children.
  • The rear leg room could be bigger.

The kids’ favorite thing? I think we covered that. Though they would like me to ask Lexus to consider that whole entertainment system with wireless headphones thing.

(Want to read more of a “Grownup” review of this car? Visit Traveling Mom)

Lexus provided the vehicle featured in the review, with a full tank of gas. No form of compensation was provided. As always, all opinions in this review are my own -in this case Little Nugget #3’s as well.  

6 thoughts on “2013 Lexus GS 450h: A Backseat Review”

  1. Your daughter is adorbs! Love the shades on the windows – we sometimes have to cover our back windows with a receiving blanket to block the sun – shades would be so much easier (although I can see how little folks might damage them). The app suite is pretty cool, too.
    Teresa @ Working Traveling Mom´s last blog post ..In Training

    1. Oh, it also has an automatic rear shade too Teresa. Yeah, I doubt the side shades would do well with constant “attention” from 6 and 7 year old kiddos.

  2. Love the review, sounds like an amazing car, but I would definitely be distracted by all of the possibilities especially with the App Suite. Very helpful to see Emily’s point of view as well since she is the one taking advantage of any backseat perks – I think she needs to be full time reviewer too!

    1. I’m easily distracted. I think once you get used to all the features it will be less cumbersome. Emily may have found her calling, ha ha!

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