2006 Lexus GS
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2011.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
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.
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.
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.
There's plenty of luggage space and the trunk lends itself to fast loading or unloading.
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 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,
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
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.
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
One wonders what Henry Ford, who put the country on wheels with his dirt-simple Model T, would have thought about the GS.