We drove the Lexus GS450h up to Baguio recently during Toyota Motor Philippines' ride-and-drive event for the media, and we discovered a convenient feature inside the sporty and luxurious sedan. To the right of the steering column, just behind the steering wheel, could be found a simple button with the word "Hold" stamped upon it. This is actually for the car's very practical "brake hold" system.
This is how the system works: When you push the button, a green "Hold" icon will appear on the instrument panel. This means the system has been activated. The system will then hold the brakes for you every time you step on the brake pedal. A yellow "Hold" sign will then appear to indicate that the car's brakes have been "held" by the system. It's very useful especially in an automatic-transmission vehicle, because you no longer need to keep your right foot pressed on the brake pedal while sitting still in traffic. Just step on the brakes once and when the car comes to a halt, you can rest your foot easy and flat on the floor.
The brake hold then disengages automatically when you step on the gas pedal again.
The system does take some getting used to. It can be very unsettling the first time you use it, because your automatic instinct is to keep your right foot pressed on the brake pedal when you're immobile, say, at an intersection. Take your foot off and there's that nagging paranoia that the car might move forward and hit the vehicle in front. But the system is very accurate and reliable; you just need to learn how to trust it.
The brake-hold system, according to Lexus Manila marketing services officer Carlo Chungunco, is available on the GS and the LS.
Photo by Vernon B. Sarne