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Lexus GS Review

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2007 Lexus GS 430
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2007 Lexus GS 430
2007 Lexus GS 450h
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2007 Lexus GS 450h

The Lexus GS series was introduced to the US in 1993. Designed to compete with the German BMW and Mercedes-Benz carmakers, the Lexus GS series has tried to provide even more enhancements to its lineup over the competition. The result is an extremely well crafted luxury sedan that is a definite competitor to its German brethren in luxury, style, and raw performance; though driving enthusiasts contend that Lexus has not quite been able to capture that driving experience that the German automakers have always been known for. With vehicles at these levels of excellence, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder. See also the main fact sheet for the Lexus GS.

Contents

High Points

  • Library silent cabin
  • Packed with technology
  • Plenty of power

Low Points

  • The rear windows do not roll down all the way
  • Multi-use console screen is overly complicated (Car and Driver)
  • Not much of a driving experience
  • Handles Corner

Performance and Handling

Lexus 450h speedometer
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Lexus 450h speedometer

All GS models are extraordinarily quiet, their aural distinctions to be appreciated only at full throttle. It's then that the V8 separates itself from its new, smaller sibling. The big engine scarcely notices the weight it must pull or the air it must push, and the suck, squish, bang and blow of the eight cylinders is reduced to a muted rumble from the dual exhaust system.

Throw in a six-speed automatic that is so smooth as to seem one continuous gear, and there's little to do except sit back and enjoy the ride. At its most fuel deficient, the GS 430 jets from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds, with the driver's chief sensation simply the rapid change of view outside the windows. A bit of road noise manages to make it through the sound-dampening measures, and there's a hint of wind around the A-pillars when the car approaches triple digits, but otherwise the cockpit is a librarian's paradise.

Handling is virtually no-fault. The newly engineered suspension is state of the art even without all the electronic handling aids. Both V6 and V8 cars share the same suspension geometry: double-wishbones, coil springs and gas-filled shocks in front, and a multi-link design with coil springs and gas-filled shocks out back. The GS 430 also features standard Adaptive Variable Suspension, which automatically adjusts shock values depending on the driving conditions, or the driver can choose between normal and sport modes.

But, is it an exciting car to drive? If your only measure of driving fun is speed, then the 430 is a fulfilling ride. But, if you value a high level of feedback from external forces, then the Lexus experience might be a bit of a bore. It is just so competent and smooth that the driver feels more like a passenger than the commander. Make no mistake; this is no track car. The electronic handling aids cannot be switched off, so tail-happy cornering is out of the question. However, there's a lot to be said for the ease of taking a corner at competitive speeds without having to wrestle the steering wheel or worry about the rear end overtaking the front.

Driving fans should consider the rear-drive GS 300. In comparison to the outgoing inline six-cylinder engine, the new V6 produces more torque over a wider range, better fuel economy and lower emissions, and it produces some very pleasing sounds as it goes about its business. Featuring such advanced aspects as drive-by-wire throttle, variable adjustment of the timing on both the intake and exhaust sides, direct-to-cylinder injection, and a special Swirl Control Valve that works like a variable induction system, the V6's 245 horsepower can take the GS 300 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds.

The V6 is not an effortless puller like the V8, but it's no slouch, either. The generous torque provides plenty of juice for the stoplight grand prix, and there's little sense of the power falling off as redline is approached. Better still, the V6 provides the kind of aural feedback that delights the sporting driver.

Whichever drivetrain is chosen, the GS has pretty much hit its targets. In those areas most critical to driving fun (steering, brakes and torque) this is a far better car than its predecessor. A lot of attention was paid to the steering, resulting in a new Electronic Power Steering system. A steering ECU processes vehicle speed, yaw rate and steering angle to determine how much electronic assist should be generated, and it works wonderfully well, assisting low-speed maneuverability and tightening up when more feedback is needed.

In addition, the GS 430's rack is augmented by Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), which reduces the amount of steering input at very low speeds. It also accelerates the steering angles as the wheel approaches full lock. VGRS itself incorporates Differential Steering Control and Correction Steering Angle Reduction in its operation. DSC closely matches wheel angle to the speed at which the driver is turning the steering wheel in order to offset any delay in the car's response to steering input. This works especially well on winding roads. CSAR features a correction feature to offset the effects of sidewinds, making the steering adjustments normally having to be done by the driver. Despite the large amount of driving assists, these systems are never intrusive and do little to diminish the performance aspects of the new GS.

Gas Mileage

As seen on Autos.com, in the mid-luxury car MPG rankings:

Safety

The Lexus GS series comes standard with the following features:

  • Front and rear side curtain airbags
  • Front side airbags
  • Driver's and front passenger's knee airbags
  • Rear-seat side airbags
  • Tire Pressure Monitor System
  • Reinforced Body
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Vehicle Stability Features
  • Run-Flat Tires
  • Lexus Link
  • ABS With Brake Assist
  • Pre-Collision System

Reliability and Maintenance

The Basic Warranty coverage is for 48 months or 50,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Wheel alignment and balancing are covered for 12 months or 20,000 miles, whichever occurs first.

This warranty covers repairs and adjustments needed to correct defects in materials or workmanship of any part supplied by Lexus under certain circumstances.

Interior and Comforts

Open any one of the four doors and you're greeted by aluminum alloy Lexus-stamped scuff plates, the scent of leather and cut-pile carpeting, and the gleam of highly burnished hardwood trim.

The handsome wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel, electronically adjustable for rake and reach, frames a newly designed dash panel. Following established Lexus standard, each gauge, button, wheel and lever is clearly identified by easily read words or symbols, and the three-pod analog instrument cluster's white-on-black graphics can be grasped at a glance.

A 160-mph speedometer, with an integrated electronic digital odometer and twin trip meters, is flanked to the left by a tachometer and to the right by fuel and water temperature gauges and lights indicating gear choice.

Dominating the center console is a 7-inch touch screen, flanked by two banks of menu buttons. Entering the various menus and navigating through the submenus doesn't take too much brainpower, but like most multi-tasking systems, a day spent with the owner's manual on a quiet side street is the best way to figure out how to work everything properly.

Still, there are so many systems/operations/functions to either operate or monitor that Lexus chose to hide some of the switches. One of the hideaways is accessed via a door that drops down out of the dash panel to the left of the steering wheel. Here you'll find switches for outside mirrors, fuel lid, trunk release, meter brightness control (more on this later), odometer/trip meter, headlamp washers, rear sunshade, park assist, AFS (lots more on this later), and interior lamps. More hidden switches are under the sliding top of the center console: adaptive variable suspension, transmission mode and front seat heaters and ventilators. Some might find it tedious to access these functions in these ways, but it does go a long way to cleaning up the console of excessive clutter.

Another innovative cockpit feature is the variable transparency lens covering the gauge cluster. Called an electronic chromatic device, it automatically changes the diffusion of the lens to optimize viewing depending on the intensity of light in the cabin.

The interior leather/wood schemes are Ash with black bird's-eye maple; Cashmere with brown bird's-eye maple or Black with walnut. Fit and finish is impeccable, down to the finest details. For instance, every compartment door or cover opens at exactly the same speed, with identical levels of damping and feel. Tactile luxury at its most basic.

Definitely not basic is the standard Lexus audio stack, comprised of an AM/FM ETR with auto-reverse cassette and 6-disc, in-dash CD changer and DVD player (DVDs can be viewed only when the shifter is in Park and the parking brake is engaged), 10 speakers and a 134-watt amplifier. No MP3 capability is yet offered, but the GS is pre-wired for XM Satellite Radio.

Audiophiles can opt for the Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound system, developed especially for the GS interior. Utilizing Discrete 5.1 surround playback via a 7.1 channel speaker topology, it sends the vibes through 14 speakers via 11 channels of amplification by an advanced discrete amplifier with 330 watts. It sounds quite amazing.

The newly reengineered Navigation System now has information for more than 6 million points of interest. Destinations can be input in several different ways for easier use, and the phonebook holds over 10 million entries. Route searching is said to be 10 times faster than with the previous nav system, and both it and the Bluetooth cell phone system can be operated by voice command or through the 7-inch touchscreen.

Exterior

Lexus has been trying to design a more bold GS style and this was resolved with a lower stance, more front overhang, a longer and lower hood, a 2-inch-longer wheelbase and wider rear track. The nose still carries the line's trademark four separate headlamp units and vertical grille, but now it's more like a spear piercing the wind than the blunt instrument of the previous GS.

The lowered stance is underlined by an aggressive front valance, with a large inlet to indicate there's a powerful engine under the hood, thirsty for air. A fog lamp is integrated into each lower front corner. Prominent body-color rocker extensions anchor the car's mass along the midsection, which is nicely balanced by the well-proportioned wheel wells. A deep rear valance carries this glued-to-the-ground theme to the tail and frames the large, exposed dual exhaust with stainless steel tips.

Much of the car's visual dynamism emanates from the strong shoulder arc, which evokes the contour of an airplane wing slicing through the wind. This sense of forward motion is reflected in a swept-back greenhouse that blends into the short rear decklid via a coupe-like C-pillar. The integrated aero look extends to color-keyed rearview mirrors and bumper covers. For sportier types, or for the determined driver who might need a bit more downforce in high-speed corners, the tail can be outfitted with an optional spoiler.

Styles and Options

The Lexus GS is available in 4 models: 430, 350 RWD, 350 AWD, and 450h.

GS 430 RWD

2007 Lexus GS interior
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2007 Lexus GS interior
2007 Lexus GS 450h interior
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2007 Lexus GS 450h interior

GS 350 RWD

GS 350 AWD


Navigation System/Mark Levinson Premium
Surround Sound Audio System Package:

  • Lexus voice-activated DVD Navigation System with backup camera
  • Mark Levinson 14-speaker 330-watt Premium Surround Sound Audio System

Criticisms

Driving enthusiasts contend that while the GS series is top notch and the hybrid model is fashionable, if you are a hard core driving enthusiast the GS series might not live up to your expectations, and you'd be better off with a BMW 5-Series.

GS 450h RWD

Lexus' Hybrid GS model:

  • 3.5-liter V6
  • High-output, permanent magnet, electric-drive motor
  • 340hp (Total System)
  • Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)

Main Competitors

External Links

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