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By Jim Flammang
April 4, 2005
Vehicle Overview Little has changed for 2005 on the six-cylinder version of the sporty, rear-wheel-drive GS series from Toyota's luxury division. Totally redesigned GS sport sedans began to reach Lexus dealerships in March 2005 as 2006 models.
Lexus also produces the more powerful GS 430 sedan, which uses a 4.3-liter V-8. Slotted between the less expensive ES 330 midsize sedan and the company's flagship LS 430, the GS duo competes against such models as the Acura RL, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Exterior Eye-catching styling includes a four-headlight front end, a sloping rear roof and a tall tail. This profile helps give the GS a distinctive appearance, which looks more European than Japanese in origin. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires. High-intensity-discharge headlights are optional, and a moonroof is standard. Built on a 110.2-inch wheelbase, the GS 300 is 189.2 inches long overall and 55.9 inches tall.
Interior As in most sport sedans, seating for five occupants in the GS 300 is standard. Space is decent for four adults, who enjoy such decorative touches as California walnut wood trim. Front bucket seats have 10-way power adjustment. Leather upholstery is optional.
Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, an anti-theft immobilizer, a seven-speaker sound system, heated mirrors, illuminated keyless entry and a power tilt/telescoping steering column. The driver faces a bright, three-pod gauge cluster. Options include a premium Mark Levinson audio system and a DVD-based navigation system.
Under the Hood A 220-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder develops 220 pounds-feet of torque. The five-speed-automatic transmission includes E-Shift buttons on the steering-wheel spokes that permit manually selected gear changes. Lexus claims a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 7.8 seconds.
Safety Seat-mounted side-impact airbags, side curtain-type airbags for the front seats, daytime running lights, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. Brake assist applies maximum braking force when it senses a hard push on the brake pedal. The front passenger airbag will not deploy if that seat is unoccupied.
Driving Impressions The stylish GS 300 provides nearly all the virtues of the more costly GS 430, and without a bothersome penalty in performance. The 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder is strong enough to satisfy most drivers. Ride comfort, spaciousness, luxury appointments and handling skills are top-notch in both models, so GS 300 owners won't feel slighted.
The GS 300 can take off from a standstill with vigor and is no less brisk for passing and merging. Automatic-transmission gear changes are nearly transparent, and downshifts arrive promptly and gently. The GS 300 steers with a relatively light touch and maneuvers briskly and easily. Body lean in swift curves isn't absent, but it's seldom noticed in ordinary driving.
The engine is nearly silent except when the driver accelerates hard. The seats are attractive, comfortable and supportive and offer plenty of headroom in both the front and rear. Legroom is excellent up front and adequate in the backseat.