Lexus redesigned the GS 300 sport sedan and its more powerful GS 430 companion for 2006. Both sedans went on sale in February 2005.
All-wheel drive is available for the first time in the GS 300. Rather than using the previous inline-six-cylinder engine, the restyled GS 300 holds a new 245-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6. The automaker says this engine pushes the car from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. A new six-speed-automatic transmission incorporates a manual-shift provision.
Lexus expects that 42 percent of its GS 300 sedans will be equipped with all-wheel drive. Hydraulic controls in the all-wheel-drive system vary the front/rear torque split from 30/70 to 50/50 and provide what Lexus calls the performance advantages of rear-wheel drive with the confident traction of all-wheel drive. The related V-8-powered GS 430 sedan comes only with rear-wheel drive; that model is covered separately in the cars.com Research section.
An all-new suspension is installed. The car features new dynamic and safety technology. An option group includes adaptive laser cruise control and a pre-collision system that helps determine if a crash is imminent and takes appropriate steps if it is. Other options include Intuitive Park Assist and adaptive headlights that swivel in accord with the front wheels.
Lexus says the sedan has a futuristic look, though the vertical grille and four independent headlights are reminiscent of its predecessor. Featuring uncluttered sheetmetal, the GS 300 has a long hood, a very short rear deck and wide tapered C-pillars that flow back to the rear of the car.
Long side glass and a steep back window enhance the GS 300's performance image. The sedan's dimensions have grown: Overall length is slightly greater at 190 inches, its width is fractionally larger at 71.7 inches, the rear track width is an inch bigger, and the wheelbase has grown to 112.2 inches. Aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. Options include a moonroof and a power rear sunshade.
Five occupants fit inside the GS 300, which features leather-trimmed seats. Heated front seats are standard, and fan ventilation is an option. Premium wood and both polished and leather accents round out the upscale cabin. A Smart Access keyless entry system includes new push-to-start ignition, and the new gauge cluster features aluminum faces. A variable transparency lens reduces glare on the gauges on sunny days. A power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is installed. Hidden panels to the left of the steering wheel hold infrequently used controls.
A 7-inch dashboard screen can work with the optional navigation system and also serves as a monitor for Intuitive Park Assist. A 10-speaker sound system is standard, and a Mark Levinson surround-sound system with 14 speakers is optional. Trunk space totals 12.7 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
A 3.0-liter V-6 produces 245 hp at 6,200 rpm and 230 pounds-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. The new six-speed-automatic transmission includes Power, Normal and Snow modes.
New front knee airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are standard. Lexus' optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions.
Whether it's equipped with rear- or all-wheel drive, the GS 300 delivers enough performance to satisfy most owners. For that reason, the V-8-powered GS 430 isn't a necessity. Little evidence gives away the car's all-wheel-drive system, but drivers aware of its presence are instilled with confidence in slippery conditions.
Despite the abundant technology in the new GS, you barely notice it when you're behind the wheel. Straight-on steering is about perfect. This sedan takes curves substantially faster than you might expect, and without any bothersome body lean. The car's superior gauges are easily visible in any light.