The GS300/400 falls between the ES300 and flagship LS400 in the lineup at Lexus, Toyota's luxury division. Since its 1998 redesign, the GS enjoys a sportier look than either of its teammates.
Brake Assist, which applies maximum braking force when it senses a hard push on the brake pedal, is a new standard feature.
The model names denote engine sizes (3.0-liter six-cylinder and 4.0 liter V-8) for the rear-drive GS, which competes with luxury models such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lincoln LS, Audi A6 and Acura RL.
An eye-catching four-headlamp face, sloping rear roof and a tall tail give the GS a distinctive appearance among luxury sedans, which tend to be conservative. At 189 inches long, the GS is slightly shorter than the less-expensive ES300 and 8 inches shorter than the pricier LS400.
The GS has the usual seats for five and the drawback of a large driveshaft tunnel that makes the center rear seat feel like a penalty box. Four adults can sit comfortably in an interior decorated with leather upholstery and California walnut trim.
Lexus GS300/400 models feature an optional navigation system with a 6-inch LCD screen to point you in the right direction.
Standard features include a bright electronic gauge cluster, automatic climate control, a 215-watt, seven-speaker sound system and a power tilt/telescopic steering column.
Under the Hood
The GS300 uses an inline 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 225 horsepower, and the GS400 comes with the same 4.0-liter V-8 as the LS400, though the GS is rated at 300 horsepower instead of 290 for the LS. Both models use a five-speed automatic transmission, but on the GS400 it includes a sequential manual-shift feature through steering-wheel buttons.
Both models have the crisp handling and athletic moves of rival European sedans, and the GS400's V-8 delivers thrilling acceleration. Other Lexus sedans can be criticized for lacking spirit, but that does not apply to the GS.