2001 Lexus GS
This 2001 review is representative of model years 2001 to 2005.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Lexus GS sedan provides the smoothness and luxury expected from a Lexus with much of the performance of a top European sports sedan, especially with its available V8.
However, some buyers of fast, luxurious foreign sedans may feel this Japanese Lexus model is a little too soft and opt for a European BMW or Mercedes-Benz model.
But, with the exception of its fairly new, edgy IS 300 model, Lexus puts luxury first. So don't expect the GS to feel like a 5-Series sedan. In fact, this Lexus is more at home during high-speed highway cruising than tackling winding two-lane backroads.
The GS comes as the $38,555 GS 300 with an inline six-cylinder engine, and as the $47,355 GS 430 with a more powerful V8. The engines are very sophisticated—especially the V8—and both models are very well equipped. The GS 430 has standard leather upholstery, which is a $1,660 option for the GS 300.
Being the most powerful GS model, the 430 gets most of the attention. Mechanical changes for it include an engine enlarged from 4 to (you guessed it!) 4.3 liters.
The V8 has the same 300-horsepower rating of last year's engine, but provides more torque for better responsiveness. It delivers the same fuel economy as last year's V8.
Not to be overlooked is the GS 300, which has an unchanged (you guessed it again!) 3.0-liter engine. It produces 220 horsepower and pretty strong acceleration.
The GS 300 hits 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, while the GS 430 zips to that speed in just 5.8 seconds. Top speed of the GS 430 is electronically limited to 149 mph, while the GS 300 can reach 144 mph.
Both models are heavy, at approximately 3,700 pounds, and there's little difference in government-estimated fuel economy: Both are rated at 18 mpg in the city, while the GS 430's highway figure is 23 and that of the GS 300 is 24.
Long Cruising Range
For the first time, the 2001 GS 300 gets steering wheel-mounted manual-shift buttons for the GS' smooth 5-speed automatic transmission, which helps provide fast launches and delivers quick downshifts. The GS 430 loses such buttons this year, but you can still shift the automatic manually with its floor-mounted gear selector.
Although several years old, the GS continues to look racy and unique. However, the $440 rear spoiler offered for the GS 430 has a tacked-on look and doesn't help the car's appearance.
Five a Squeeze
Front seats are very comfortable on long drives. And a power-adjustable steering wheel and power driver's seat that is nicely positioned in relation to the wheel and pedals should allow virtually all drivers to get comfortable.
While generally quiet, the interior isn't as silent as one might expect it to be with such an upscale car. Thus, the expensive, optional Mark Levinson audio system sometimes can't be fully enjoyed.
Gauges have special lighting during the day to make them easier to read, but are set too deeply in the three-pod instrument cluster. Trunk and fuel cover releases are semi-hidden, although other controls can be easily seen.
The optional navigation system's touch screen contains audio and climate functions and can be difficult to use. The owner's manual occupies most room in the glove box, but the console has a fairly large, covered storage area. Console-mounted cupholders have a cover and are nicely placed.
Frustrating Power Window Operation
The trunk is fairly large, but has an awkward two-level design that makes it hard to fit large suitcases and other bulky objects. Also, rear wheelwell housings eat into cargo space—as do the trunk lid's old-fashioned, manual hinges, which can damage cargo. Where's the compact hydraulic trunk lid struts found even on some economy cars?
The GS is solidly built. But its trunk lid still has a tinny sound when closing. However, doors shut with a reassuring "thunk."
The GS—even the V8 model—isn't quite a BMW. But then, it's not supposed to be.