For 2008, Lexus has given its GS sport sedan a modest makeover, with slight changes to the sheet metal and interior. The GS 350 competes with midsize sport sedans like the BMW 535i, Mercedes-Benz E350, Cadillac STS V-6 and Acura RL.
All-wheel drive is available for the GS 350. Hydraulic controls in the 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 pricier GS 430 becomes the GS 460 thanks to a larger V-8, while the hybrid GS 450h retains the same gas-electric V-6 powertrain. Both models come only with rear-wheel drive; they're covered separately in the Cars.com Research section.
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.
Exterior modifications include a new chrome grille that flanks the headlights more closely than before. The front bumper is also revised, with re-sculpted portals for the air dam and fog light insets. The side mirrors incorporate turn signals, as many luxury cars now do.
Lexus says the sedan has a futuristic look, though the vertical grille and four independent headlights are reminiscent of its predecessor. The GS 350 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 car's performance image. The sedan is 190 inches long and 71.7 inches wide with a 112.2-inch wheelbase. Aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. Options include a moonroof and a power rear sunshade.
For 2008, the GS has new gauges and an aluminum plate surrounding the gearshift. The optional navigation system comes with Bluetooth, voice activation and a rearview camera. A 7-inch dashboard screen works with the navigation system and also serves as a monitor for the Intuitive Park Assist system. A 10-speaker, six-CD stereo is standard, and a Mark Levinson surround-sound system with 14 speakers is optional. Trunk space totals 12.7 cubic feet.
Five occupants fit inside the GS 350. Ten-way power front seats with heated leather upholstery 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 standard. Hidden panels to the left of the steering wheel hold infrequently used controls.
Under the Hood
Utilizing direct-injection technology, the 3.5-liter V-6 engine produces 303 hp at 6,200 rpm and 274 pounds-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Each front occupant gets a conventional front airbag as well as a knee airbag, and there are seat-mounted side-impact airbags up front and side curtain airbags for both rows. Also standard are four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system. Lexus' optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions. Optional adaptive headlights swivel in the direction of a turn to better illuminate corners.