Jump to content
Do Not Sell My Personal Information


Gen3 Prius to Lexus GS300h


Ten Ninety
 Share

Recommended Posts

Having replaced my Gen3 Prius T-Spirit with a Lexus GS300h Premier a couple of months ago, I thought I would share my perspective on what the change has been like now that the rose-tinted honeymoon period of ownership is over. 

I know a few others have moved from a Toyota hybrid to a Lexus of some description, so I thought a comparison might be of some interest to anyone here who may be contemplating a similar move - especially as the GS depreciates so badly in Premier spec that it can be picked up for considerably less than a new Gen4 in Excel trim. And without wishing to ignite a pointless debate about the merits of second-hand versus new, it's hard to ignore the 'wow, that's a lot of car for the money' feeling such a comparison generates. At least, it was for me. Anyway, here's a few pointers as to what you might be getting yourself into if you find yourself similarly tempted...

Be warned - I do like to witter on at length about inconsequential detail, so this post will surely be a lot longer than it needs to be. 

Driving

The hybrid drivetrain in the GS works in exactly the same way as the Prius, except power goes to the rear instead of the front. The Battery feels stronger and can go further in milkfloat mode than my Gen3 could, but that may just be because it's a newer car. In Eco or Normal mode, it really does 'feel' the same to drive apart from when you floor the throttle, at which point it does take off at what I found to be a surprisingly rapid pace. In fairness, having spent 3 years in a Gen3 my expectations of acceleration have probably been somewhat recalibrated. The GS is not a fast car by anyone's definition, but it is faster than what I've been used to.  

There's a Sport mode which doesn't make the car go faster, but it does sharpen the throttle and weight up the steering. In addition, the power meter magically transforms into the world's most pointless rev counter and you can even switch the 'transmission' to manual mode where it makes a hilarious pretence of 'changing gear' using the flappy paddles on the wheel. This was presumably fitted as a sop to journalists and other morons who are congenitally incapable of appreciating the joys of smooth progress which only a CVT can offer. In fairness, the system works about as well as it could do in the circumstances, and certainly means you can make the GS drive like a 'normal' car if you so wish. I just cannot fathom why anyone would want to.

Premier spec gets adaptive suspension, which can be summed up as a wasted opportunity. The Sport+ mode works well: it's compliant but still reacts adeptly in corners, and if you're into that sort of thing then you can press on very nicely in a way that you couldn't ever enjoy in a Prius. At least, not a Gen3, anyway. However, I'm not sure why anyone interested in that kind of driving would want to buy a GS 300h as they'd surely be better served by a BMW, or even the 450h. Again, I suspect it was designed to please journalists rather than the people who actually buy these cars. The real problem I have with the system is that Normal mode just isn't different enough from Sport+ for it to seem worthwhile. It's not exactly a harsh ride, but it doesn't absorb bumps as well as I think a car of that size and weight really should. On my commute, where I know every ridge and pothole by heart, it feels marginally better than the Prius on some stretches and actually slightly worse on others. I would have much preferred it if they'd tuned the normal mode more towards the 'comfort' end.

Interior Comfort

The seats are very, very good. 18-way adjustable, and the passenger gets a fold-out 'ottoman' for lower leg support. The range of adjustment makes a big difference if you are plagued by back problems - the three-way lumbar adjustment is a real boon and compared to the Prius long journeys are much more comfortable. It's not perfect, however: there are three separate memory settings for both driver and passenger seats, but infuriatingly these cannot be accessed on the move! The car has to be in Park before it will change seats to a different memory position, yet manual adjustment remains possible whilst driving. I am sure this has something to do with 'safety' but manual fiddling is far more distracting, and why the restriction applies to the passenger side is simply incomprehensible.

I always had a problem with the road noise in the Prius, and felt it was excessively loud for a car of that size. As you would expect, the Lexus is better in this respect. It is not, however, as quiet as reviews might lead you to believe. I suspect that compared to an equivalent 5-series or A6 with a dirty diesel tractoring away up front, the GS is indeed relatively quiet. Wind and engine noise are both nicely suppressed. However, on poor surfaces the tyre roar becomes very noticeable. Given that pretty much all of the UK's road network now has a poor surface, that means it's noisier than I would like for most of the time. I did test drive a lower-spec GS with smaller wheels and - just like when I swapped 17s to 15s on my Gen3 - it was not noticeably quieter.

The climate control works exceptionally well. It actually maintains a temperature on chilly mornings (unlike the Prius which would get progressively colder unless I kept upping the temp manually). Also unlike the Prius, it is subtle in both noise and air-speed even on high settings. It can also control the heating and ventilation of the seats automatically and it has a strangely-named 'Nanoe ion filter' that uses some kind of trickery to cool the air without drying it out. That actually works, which means no more dry-eye on long summer journeys, and less chance of the semi-aniline leather seats cracking.

Infotainment

The Mark Levinson audio system sounds immense, as you would expect. Unlike the (early) Gen3 Prius, there's a USB iPod connection that works properly. Phone connection for Bluetooth streaming is also faultless, as is the import of contacts. The 'mouse' controller for the screen is fiddly, but it's not as bad as some reviews suggest and basic air-con and music functions can be engaged using traditional knobs and buttons anyway. However, the voice control system is an incredible step backwards from the Prius. It simply doesn't work. At all. I presume this is because they've tried to make it clever enough to recognise more than just the handful of phrases the Prius can handle, but they evidently haven't upgraded the hardware to properly support this. It won't recognise any command I speak - it literally just does something completely random every time I attempt to use it.

The sat-nav is almost exactly the same as the one on my 2010 Gen3. Its routing is pathetic, the interface (without the touch screen it was originally designed for) is clunky beyond belief, its traffic warnings are hopeless and the maps are so ugly and devoid of interest that I actually find it offensive to display them in what is an otherwise modern, attractive interior. The sooner car makers give up on this nonsense and move to Carplay / Android Auto the better. Fortunately, the nice widescreen display can be configured to replace the map with a good range of trip/economy info - this is actually a lot better than the Gen3 MFD because I can have everything I want on the screen at once without having to cycle through displays.

Other Random Observations:

Lexus auto wipers are hopeless. The Prius ones were spot-on, and the Auris ones are pretty good. Why Lexus can't just use the same parts is a mystery. It would appear that they even know their system is rubbish, as there's actually a button on the end of the stalk to switch it off. However, they couldn't even get that right because it's supposed to switch it to a traditional 'intermittent' function using the collar but in fact I can only manage to find on, fast and off. A truly baffling fail.

In another one of those inexplicable Japanese-manufacturer spec twists, only the Premier spec 300h has a HUD. Coming from the Prius, that meant I ruled out all the other - possibly better value - options because I really didn't want to lose the HUD. Still, the GS is not really a car that you want to be driving in poverty-spec 'SE' trim anyway. And don't be fooled by the 'Luxury' spec, either. It's still missing all the good stuff.

Unlike the Prius, the GS won't park itself. It has all the sensing kit fitted, and has a mode where it will tell you what to do step-by-step, but it won't actually turn the wheel itself. Frankly, that's just lazy. I only used the Prius system twice in three years, so I can't say it's a major issue. However, it does seem like another inexplicable step backward.

The outside mirror memory positions can be programmed separately for reverse gear. That's a very minor feature but one which I find incredibly useful for my daily 'precision parking' feat in the garage. Every car should be able to do this.

The automated boot lid is stupid. There's no sensor, so it requires you to fumble round for the button and then hauls itself up so slowly you try to yank it up yourself, at which point it starts wrestling with you. And, in what is undoubtedly another daft 'safety' move, it's possible to open the boot from inside the car but if you want to shut it again you actually have to get out and push the button on the lid. Which means the only entertaining thing you could do with it - i.e. amusing the car behind by opening and closing it when stopped in traffic - is sadly ruled out.

Economy:

The big question, perhaps, for anyone coming from a Prius is how the GS compares in terms of fuel economy. Clearly it's not going to match the Gen3, let alone the Gen4, but how close can it get?

Not very, is the answer if you just look at the mpg figures alone. I'm averaging around 15-20mpg less than my Gen3. My commute has seen me averaging low 60s on the GS's MFD at this time of year, which would have been high 70s / low 80s in the Prius. Real figures will be a handful of mpg lower in both cars. Outside of the average performance, it's clear that the GS really doesn't have the headroom to get silly numbers like the Prius does, which is perhaps understandable given the 2.5 litres of displacement and all that extra weigh to shift. My best journey average (32 miles) in the GS is an indicated 66mpg - my best on the same journey in the Prius was 93mpg. Although to be fair I only saw 90+ averages in the Prius a handful of times in 3 years whereas I am regularly hitting 63-65 journey averages in the GS.

The thing is, because of the way mpg calculations work when you're up beyond 50mpg, doing 20mpg less might sound like a lot but it doesn't actually cost me that much more to fuel. My weekly trip of ~332 miles costs me somewhere in the region of £6 - £7 more. That's 2p a mile or thereabouts. For most people who aren't blessed with my eco-friendly commute - and who probably aren't prepared to devote the same concentrated effort to achieving high figures - I suspect the difference will still work out to be similar. If you're getting mid 50s out of a Prius as many people do, you'll probably get mid 40s from the GS as it doesn't seem to drop that much when driven normally. On a recent trip to the north east I still averaged over 52mpg with lots of hills, lots of motorways and very few concessions to eco-driving.

And there is one huge advantage over the Prius when it comes to filling up: you don't have to do it very often! The GS fuel tank was designed for the much thirstier 6-cylinder 450h and 250 models which means I can see close to 700 miles before the warning light shows.

Conclusions:

My main disappointment with the GS is that it's not as quiet or as comfortable as it should be, and there are a raft of minor quibbles that Lexus really could - and should - have designed out. None of these have been fixed in the 2016 facelift, either. However, I did a couple of extended test drives and knew what I was getting beforehand so I can't really complain. If you harbour a pathological dislike of diesels like I do, choices for a large comfortable car that won't break the bank to run are somewhat limited. I've heard it said that 'you really have to hate diesels to choose a hybrid.' Well, I do. And given that self-imposed constraint, I am happy with my purchase.

There are a couple of other things which I haven't mentioned that also add to the satisfaction of ownership. One is that it's a seriously rare sight on the roads, to the extent that it doesn't seem to carry any associations for other motorists. Has there been less open antipathy and aggression around me than there was in the Prius? It certainly feels that way, although that could just be my imagination. Another plus - and one which has proved to be far more of a positive than I ever thought it would be - could probably be termed the 'quality ambience' of the interior. That sort of feeling is all new to me. I've spent years driving Japanese motors with terrible plastic interiors and they've never really bothered me, but the GS is a real step up. It's basically a scaled-down LS interior using the same materials, which interestingly are of tangibly better quality than those found in the CT, IS and even the nice new RC coupe. I have been surprised at just how much of a difference this makes, in terms of it being a nice place to spend time in. I'm not sure what that now says about me as a nouveau materials-snob, but I do know that I'd find it hard to go back to low-rent plastics and rattles when it's time to move on again. That urinal in the Gen4 looks even less appealing now than it did before!

So, the long and the short of it is that the GS is flawed, and certainly not as good as it could or should be, but for someone who loves the whole hybrid driving experience it's still a satisfying ownership prospect. If you're thinking of moving on from a Prius, it may be worth a look. :)

2.jpg

10.jpg

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Nice write up Ten Ninety.

I owned both the Gen 1 and the Gen 2 GS300, and loved every mile I covered in them. In 2010, when my circumstances changed, I moved from Lexus to a Gen 2 Prius T-Spirit and then to my present Gen 3 T-4.
When the GS450h was launched, I had said to myself that the GS450h will be my next car, but it wasn't to be as it turned out.
Although things haven't really changed that much for me since 2010, your 'review' could open a door for me to look at Lexus again albeit in the GS300h, if and when I get the chance to change my car again.

As for 'wittering on', it's the observations that you pointed out in your post that makes it far more interesting than normal reviews.
Thank you. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, many thanks for that, interesting and informative.

I haven't driven a GS, but I have driven an LS (long wheelbase) 600h, an LX and a couple of RX 400h, all with 4 wheel drive.

If anyone's inetrested, this is the writeup of my LX test: http://www.biwel.com/pmb01/PeteBs Lexus NX Test Drive.pdf

I would only consider the RX Premier (with HUD) but it's just too big. The LS was amazing (and even bigger), but even the £100,000 model has no HUD! (but I would love the infrared forward facing camera).  I won't give up my digital instruments, and would only just consider the RX as the Premier has the HUD.  Both had beautiful quality interiors, and I thought them pretty quiet too.

My best mpg on the LS was a whisker under 30, driving it very carefully, but exploring the performance (0-62 in 5½ sec) saw that plummet alarmingly. The 5 litre V8 petrol engine had a lovely purr when pressed, and the ride quality of both was excellent with the air suspension.

The last time I was lent an RX was when there was 8-10 inches of snow on my 300 yard drive (where I lived at the time) and it would have taken me all morning to dig out the Prius, but the RX went down it as if there was no snow at all, without even needing to select the transmission's snow mode or raise the suspension.

The RX still doesn't park itself (the system on the Gen 4 Prius is usually excellent, and has got me into (and out of) a couple of spaces I wouldn't have believed possible), although it did once go perfectly into a space, then on the final straightening move put the NSF wheel into the kerb making a big mess of the wheel trim!.

What the RX (Premier) does have, however, is a 360° 4-camera view of the outside of the car which is magic - you can see all four wheels, down the sides of the car and full width of front and rear bumpers, even with the mirrors folded in (LX Premier has this too, as does the top trim Nissan Leaf).  I really wish my Prius Excel had this.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"... The sooner car makers give up on this nonsense and move to Carplay / Android Auto the better. "

Not sure about Carplay, but the Kia Niro hybrid includes:

"

Android Auto Connectivity** -
Kia Connected Services Featuring TomTom® (Traffic, Speed Cameras, Local Search & Weather Updates)**
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

very interesting --- I have a Gen 2 Prius and have been hoping / planning to move up to a RX450h in a few years --- I'm forever telling my wife: "One day I will have a Lexus, best car in the world...."

cheers, Mark

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great write up Jay, and three cheers for wittering on.

Its nice to hear about the warts, as well as the beauty spots, and leaves a sort of contented feeling that maybe the Gen 3 is not too bad, and that a 2016 plate will still irritate after 3 months.

As somebody who has just spent a few bob on anew car, then it would be easy to stay with the rose tinted specs to (internally) justify the expense, rather than a possible slightly painful  honesty.

  Interestingly, as an Observer for the IAM/RoadSmart, my present trainee has a Toyota GT 86, which also has some pretty low rent internal trim from whatever left overs Mr T has in his parts bin. As a 6 speed manual witha pretty cack handed owner, it is a not a peace passengers seat, as my head alternately hits the windscreen and then the rear hatch windows (with every gear change), or brae application.

   But there are no rattles despite a ride quality that probably is grreat en route to Spain, but not around rural Herts, and although road testers complain of lack of grunt, and low torque, it is both a very fast, but very docile car, and seriously responsive.......eg., much tooooo responsive for my ex-NASA IT specialist.

 

   Work in progress!

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, barrycoll said:

Great write up Jay, and three cheers for wittering on.

 

 

 

Here, Here. Thanks Jay for an excellent review. An enjoyable read and very helpful.

I would be interested to hear more when you have had the chance to drive the Lexus on snow or icy roads.

I owned an IS250 for three years and it was a lovely motor and a joy to drive, except on snow and ice when it became an absolute pig. Lots of power, an automatic gearbox, rear wheel drive and no limited slip differential. It was just a very bad recipe for driving on slippery surfaces.

The Lexus followed two Nissan Maximas and a 3 litre Camry each of which had front wheel drive and all of which were easy to control on snow and ice.

My first Prius was part of a plan to get back to front wheel drive and I was very pleased with it in that regard.

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is my favourite bit:

"and you can even switch the 'transmission' to manual mode where it makes a hilarious pretence of 'changing gear' using the flappy paddles on the wheel. This was presumably fitted as a sop to journalists and other morons who are congenitally incapable of appreciating the joys of smooth progress which only a CVT can offer"

Brilliant, well said.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


On 8/23/2016 at 8:06 PM, FROSTYBALLS said:

So does your profile need updating as it is still showing the Prius.

Looks like someone did it for me. Thanks. :)

On 8/24/2016 at 0:46 PM, cuius said:

"... The sooner car makers give up on this nonsense and move to Carplay / Android Auto the better. "

Not sure about Carplay, but the Kia Niro hybrid includes:

"

Android Auto Connectivity** -
Kia Connected Services Featuring TomTom® (Traffic, Speed Cameras, Local Search & Weather Updates)**

I suppose that's half way there, although why the hell they didn't do Carplay as well is anyone's guess. Probably an Apple tax to pay, I expect. Still, it's a step beyond where Toyota / Lexus are right now.

However, the Kia also has a dual-clutch gearbox and a turbo engine, which both lower its appeal in my eyes. It also has what I consider to be a grossly inflated price for a Korean wannabe. I guess they're hoping the Gen4 is so... visually challenging that people will be prepared to pay the same money to get a car that looks normal and drives like the crappy diesel they're used to. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

On 8/27/2016 at 2:03 PM, Sagitar said:

I would be interested to hear more when you have had the chance to drive the Lexus on snow or icy roads.

In three years I never saw any snow in the Prius, so it may be a while before that happens. However, I do now have a special magic button to press in the GS which is specifically labelled 'Snow' so I am confident everything will be alright. And if it isn't, I'll just chuck on the snow socks I always carry in winter...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share





×
×
  • Create New...




Forums


News


Membership