By KBB.com Editors
One could be forgiven for thinking that the Lexus GS line would be lost between the popular ES 350 and the flagship LS 460 but, in fact, the GS models have found their own niche with consumers. By combining the luxury expected from Lexus with subtly-aggressive styling and surprising performance, Toyota's upscale division has gained a foothold in a market segment typically associated with German sedans such as BMW's 5 Series, Audi's A6 and the Mercedes E-Class. In addition to offering the only hybrid in this segment, the GS 450h (reviewed separately), the GS lineup consists of three gasoline-powered variants: The rear-drive and all-wheel-drive GS 350 share a common 3.5-liter V6, while the rear-drive GS 460 has a larger and more powerful V8 engine.
If you're looking for a sedan with room for the family and a touch of luxury with enough performance to live it up now and then, the GS line (especially the GS 460 and its V8) combines them in an elegant, reliable package.
There are those who believe any proper sport sedan still must wear a German badge, or at least offer a manual transmission. For them the GS in any trim will likely come up short.
Drivers who opt out of the optional Navigation system will receive a compass-equipped interior rearview mirror. The biggest change for 2011, however, is the addition of Toyota's Smart Stop Technology as standard equipment.
Driving Impressions Comfortable, controllable and quick with either powertrain or drivetrain combination, the 2011 Lexus GS is an excellent all-around performer that should please all but the most...hardcore sport-sedan buyers. The suspension sacrifices just a bit of feedback in exchange for daily-driver comfort and sporty edginess, but the GS 460's optional Power Active Stabilizer system does a great job keeping body roll in check if you do decide to have some fun in the corners. The electronically-boosted variable power steering is both quick and precise, if slightly artificial-feeling. Those who want to see what the GS can really do can switch off completely the many handling assists and let it fly, while those who prefer all-weather security can opt for the GS 350 AWD. No matter which GS model suits your fancy, its fine cabin provides expected Lexus levels of luxury, convenience and isolation from wind and road noise.
Optional Mark Levinson Premium Audio System
Available with or without the DVD-based Lexus navigation system in any GS model, the Mark Levinson audio package delivers an auditory experience that rivals hearing music performed live. With 330 watts of 5.1 Surround Sound power and 14 strategically-positioned speakers, it makes good use of whatever content your ears prefer.
Affording an even cleaner look to the already elegantly ergonomic cabin of the GS, a concealed panel on the left side of the dash houses a bank of power switches for several items, including the outside mirrors, rear sunshade, instrument illumination levels and odometer resets.
Supple leather, brushed aluminum and beautiful polished woods decorate the 2011 Lexus GS's well-organized and luxuriously comfortable cabin. In a realm where typical Lexus levels of fit are expected, touches like the easy-to-follow white-on-black gauges, well-placed basic controls and clever array of function switches hidden behind a drop-down panel on the dash set the GS apart from the traditional choices. Formed power front bucket seats will carry anyone in comfort, with the bucketed rear bench having sufficient head and legroom to handle a pair of adults and children (only) in the center spot.Exterior
It's difficult to call any car's design aggressive and subtle in the same breath, but it almost has to be done with the GS. At first glance one could be forgiven for noticing only the badge and letting the eyes move on, but a longer second glance reveals a sedan which has really come into its own after styling tweaks for the 2008 and 2010 model years. The front fascia gives the GS a bit of a sneer, and its lower, wider stance lends an air of sport to the elegant bodywork. The well-proportioned windshield view provides good outward visibility while the bi-xenon HID headlamps and quick-responding LED taillamps make it easier to see and be seen regardless of time of day or conditions. All GS models come with standard alloy wheels: The GS 350 sports 225/50WR17 performance tires, with the GS 350 AWD opting for an all-season run-flat alternative and the GS 460 rolling on 245/40ZR18s.
Every Lexus GS comes equipped to justify its place in the luxury sedan market. Beyond the available powertrains, you'll find leather-covered and heated 10-way power front seats (heated and ventilated in the GS 460), SmartAccess keyless locking and starting, dual-zone climate control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, a seven-inch multifunction display screen, Bluetooth connectivity, an advanced anti-lock brake (ABS) package, Smart Stop Technology, driver-switchable Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system and front, front-side, side-curtain and knee airbags. Standard on the GS 460, and optional on the GS 350, are Adaptive Variable suspension and the corner-following Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS).
The list of options for the GS is fairly short, including a 330-watt Mark Levinson Premium Sound System, DVD-based voice-activated navigation system and the Lexus Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Other single items of note include computer-controlled Active Power Stabilizer Suspension System, all-season run-flat tires, park assist and a rear spoiler. There are three choices (Golden Bird's-Eye Maple, Red Walnut and Dark Grey Bird's-Eye Maple) for the interior wood trim, dependent on which color interior the driver chooses.
Both the V6 available in the GS 350 models and the GS 460's V8 are clinics in modern engine construction, from their weight-saving aluminum construction to the variable valve timing used to optimize both performance and efficiency. The 3.5-liter V6 in the GS 350 and GS 350 AWD turns out 303 horsepower and 274 pound-feet of torque, to send either car from zero to 60 mph in under six seconds when backed by the six-speed automatic. The 4.6-liter V8 in the GS 460 ups the output figures to 342 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. Teamed with a sophisticated eight-speed sequential automatic transmission, it allows the GS 460 to complete the 0-60 mph run in 5.4 seconds. FYI: Manual-style gear changes still must be made using the console lever, as neither transmission offers steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons or paddles.
303 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
274 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (RWD), 18/25 (AWD)
342 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
339 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24
By bullseye (AZ) on Monday, September 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Super good looking, safe and luxuries vehicle"
Cons: "Only thing I can think of is the initial expense"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This vehicle is a dream. It is my wife's car and I take care of it for her. The car is perfect in every way. Plenty of power and as smooth as glass and 100% reliable. The mileage is approx. 25-29 mpg around town and 33-37 on highway! The only thing that was bad were the factory installed Yokohama tires (this was the second set on two different GS Lexus's that cupped and were miserable to drive even though they were properly inflated and rotated). Changed to Michelins (as usual) and all is back to Lexus standards."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By BeElZebub (CA) on Friday, September 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 119,950overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price for a Lexus GS300 at $13,500 plus tax."
Cons: "Handling is not its forte but quietness is."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I just bought this car because the wife said I needed to buy a reliable Japanese automobile with 4-doors. I'd been driving European cars for decades. Specifically, many BMW and a few Saab autos. I loved the driving dynamics of the BMW marque and still do. In fact, prior to owning this Lexus GS300, I test drove a 2004 BMW M3. Now THAT is a driver's car! I loved the speed and handling. IMHO, the 2004 M3 is among the legendary BMW's to own if that is on your bucket list to own. Saab's on the other hand are the cheapest bang for the buck. I owned a 1999 Saab Viggen "Born from Jets" in Lightning Blue. Turbo charged with 40-70mph faster than the same year Porsche 911. 911? Yep, that's right. But, I digress. The automobile in question here is the 2006 Lexus GS300. I found this car listed by a local high line dealership and purchased it at a bargain price. it has high miles but relatively well taken care of by local Lexus dealership. The biggest appeal to this iteration of the Lexus GS is that it has sporting character lines and a sterling reputation for longevity without constant maintenance. Driving dynamics are that of a taut "Japanese sport sedan" which means it does its level best to imitate BMW handling dynamics. Acceleration is leisurely for those who are not in a rush to get to where they are going. Unfortunately, it falls short or the BMW marque in terns of both handling and acceleration. Interior accoutrements include Mark Levinson sound system with DVD viewing, navigation, and back up camera. Man cave material! LOL! All in all, a valiant effort that falls somewhat short of BMW's handling dynamics but excels in reliability."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By beasy (FL) on Wednesday, April 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfort, looks, ageless styling, luxury"
Cons: "GAS MILEAGE - and that's really it"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I own an 06 GS430 with 78k on it now. Purchased at 64k CPO from a Lexus dealer. I fell in love with it at first sight. Very well put together and overall fit and finish. Extremely smooth ride and decent engine. In 06 im sure the v8 with 300hp was a lot but anymore now that isn't much compared to many v6's out there like those nissan/infiniti use. But theres nothing like the pull of a v8 engine. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on gas though. If you arent ready for 16mpg avg city and max 24mpg on road trips then this isn't your car. Go get a 300 or 350 instead. I dont drive far for many commutes at all (15-25 mi/day) and avg 50/wk to keep the needle towards full. Reliability is where it is at though along with value. I purchased used at 24k and trade in is still around the 18k mark with private party value showing avg of 20-23k. Good luck doing that in anything else. I'd say if you were on the fence about this car to just go ahead and buy it. You wont have any regrets. Just make sure you find one certified pre owned or pay the money to get it certified. You wont be upset."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By GS momma (WA) on Saturday, March 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I buy a car every two years when I traded out of my GS to another brand I had to get the GS back. Now I will only trade for a newer GS. I rated the 8's because there were significant changes to the interior and nav systems 09 and newer."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Guinness (TN) on Friday, March 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 79,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "Small trunk on hybrid"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Love driving, great and sporty bachelor car. Biggest problem is small trunk with the Hybrid battery hogging the space. Incredibly reliable and high tech. Drives like a BMW 0-60 acceleration is on par with a sports car at 5.5 seconds."
By DMY (GA) on Sunday, January 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun and comfortable...very classy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Have owned BMW Mercedes & Jaguar and Lexus is the only luxury brand that i have repeated buying. Lexus is wonderful"