2007 Lexus GS


2006 Lexus GS

This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2011.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Complicated new Japanese Lexus comes close to being a genuine European sedan fighter.
  • Deftly redesigned
  • Smooth and sophisticated
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Complicated
  • Needs more passion
  • Still no direct rival to top European sedans

Lexus set out to make its redesigned early 2006 GS sedan a direct rival to top European sedans such as the BMW 5-Series, but didn't give the new model enough passion to do a complete job.

The GS continues to mostly drive like a fast, refined Japanese sedan because the automaker didn't want to entirely give up the soft refinement that has made its vehicles such a hit. And that's no way to match or beat automakers such as BMW, which has spent the last 50 years developing steering and suspensions that can handle twisting Alpine roads.

Lexus says the new GS is the "first in a wave of Lexus products to reflect a new, more passionate direction in styling." To be sure, the midsize GS is sleeker and turns heads with its new body panels, although the smooth Lexus look is retained. A long hood, "pulled-back" cabin and shorter rear end recall classic sports sedans.

That's styling. What about driving? The GS is firmer and sportier than one might expect. Its new electronically controlled suspension allows quick moves while retaining the car's composure and a good ride on poor roads. The GS also offers the first all-wheel-drive system for a Lexus car model.

Overly Complicated?
But the GS seems overcomplicated. It seemingly has the computing power of the space shuttle and goes a long way towards becoming a full automated car. Loaded with electronic gadgetry, the GS has variable-ratio electronically assisted steering that, for goodness sake, even automatically corrects for wind gusts in a crosswind.

An optional Pre-Collision System (PCS) can help reduce collision damage. It uses such things as a radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car and helps determine in advance if a collision is unavoidable. It then does such things as allow increased braking.

The Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system (VDIM) takes cues from a comprehensive range of sensors to anticipate the onset of a skid. It then helps correct the situation with a combination of braking, throttle and steering control in a way that's essentially undetected by the driver.

Keyless Operation
There seems to be no end to the gimmickry. For example, an access fob automatically unlocks the car when a driver touches the door handle. He need not bother with an ignition key because a new push-to-start ignition system just requires that he keep an access fob in a pocket or purse. He just pushes a dashboard button to start or stop the engine without inserting a key.

The first GS went on sale in early 1993 and has been refined ever since. The latest version is totally redone, except for a powerful carryover V8 engine.

Slightly Larger
The 190-inch-long sedan is slightly larger than its predecessor and provides good room for four big adults. However, a large front console gobbles up a lot of space and the driver's seat should slide back a little more for a long-legged occupant. Sure, five adults fit, but the rear seat center section is too hard for comfort.

There's plenty of luggage space and the trunk lends itself to fast loading or unloading.

Posh Interior
The interior has such items as a gorgeous wood-and-leather steering wheel and French-stitched leather seats. While it looks luxurious, the cockpit has a low-clutter appearance reminiscent of German sports sedans.

Helping keep things neat in the super-quiet interior are such items as a drop-down hidden panel to the left of the steering column that has infrequently used buttons and switches, such as power mirror controls. The panel seems like a good idea until you must stretch your neck to, say, adjust those mirrors.

Minimizing reflections from gauge faces is a unique new lighting system that uses variable transparency glass to help optimize gauge visibility in all lighting conditions.

Several Trim Levels
The new GS comes as the GS 300 with a new 245-horsepower V6 for $43,150 with rear-wheel drive and for $45,100 with all-wheel drive. A hot rod, rear-wheel-drive-only GS 430 with a 300-horsepower V8 stickers at $51,375 and offers the most bells and whistles.

The light aluminum V6 replaces a same-size but heavier inline 6-cylinder with 220 horsepower. The V6 produces more power from such things as an astronomically high 11:5.1 compression ratio, direct fuel injection and variable valve timing for its dual overhead camshafts to provide right-now response at all speeds.

The GS 430 has such things as wider wheels on larger 18-inch tires, versus larger new 17-inch tires for the GS 300.

The GS has plenty of comfort, convenience, luxury and safety features, although there are a good number of options, including ventilated front seats and a power sunroof,

Fast Acceleration
The GS 300 does 0-60 mph in a quick 6.8 seconds with rear drive and in 6.9 seconds with all-wheel drive, although many all-wheel-drive cars are considerably slower than their rear-drive counterparts. The GS 430 hits 60 mph in a sizzling 5.7 seconds.

Steering is quick and the powerful new braking system provides short, sure stops. Both GS trim levels handle well, and the Adaptive Variable Suspension in the GS 430 automatically selects appropriate suspension damping for driving conditions while allowing selection of a sport mode for a tighter, more precise feel.

Early estimated fuel economy for the V6 is 21-22 mpg in the city and 27-30 on highways, with all-wheel-drive versions getting the lower economy. The V8 delivers a few less mpg in city and highway driving.

Responsive New Transmission
The engines are backed by a responsive new 6-speed automatic transmission with Power, Normal and Snow modes. It replaces a 5-speed unit and has an easily used manual shift feature.

Lexus figures that the GS 300 will be the most popular trim level. That's because it costs less, is plenty fast—and all-wheel drive is becoming a popular feature among car owners because they're accustomed to it on sport-utility vehicles.

All-Wheel-Drive Action
The all-wheel-drive system shoots 70 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels most of the time, providing much of the feel of a European rear-drive sports sedan—but splits it 50-50 if the front tires need more traction. The system comes with standard all-season, run-flat tires, which are optional for GS rear-drive versions.

While the GS 430 doesn't have road-gripping all-wheel drive, its vehicle control system is part of the VDIM system, which helps keep the car on the road under trying conditions.

There are plenty of options, including a new back-up camera that provides more confidence after slipping the GS into reverse gear, but GS gadgetry seems excessive.

Acronym Alphabet Soup
For example, consider this alphabet soup of acronyms: The advanced control allowed by the VDIM system integrates and manages the new Electronically Controlled Brake system (ECB), Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), Electronic Power Steering (EPS), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Brake assist (BA), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and engine torque via an electronically controlled throttle.

One wonders what Henry Ford, who put the country on wheels with his dirt-simple Model T, would have thought about the GS.


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BB01 - 9/21/2014 11:47:32 PM