The GS is a sporty rear-drive sedan that comes in six-cylinder and V-8 versions, and the latter has a new engine, trading in a 4.0-liter for the same 4.3-liter V-8 used in the redesigned LS 430. With the larger engine, the name changes from GS 400 to 430.
Both the GS 430 and the six-cylinder GS 300 also get standard curtain-type airbags for the front seats. The curtain airbags are in addition to side-impact airbags mounted in the outboard sides of the front seats. Also new this year is an automatic cutoff for the front-passenger airbag if the seat is unoccupied.
The GS 300/430 fits between the flagship LS 430 and the less expensive ES 300 and IS 300 sedans in the lineup at Lexus, Toyotas luxury division. The GS competes with luxury models such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Acura RL.
An eye-catching, four-headlight face, a sloping rear roof and a tall tail give the GS a distinctive appearance that looks more European than Japanese in origin. Both models receive minor styling changes at the front and rear and larger exhaust outlets this year.
At 189 inches long, the GS is slightly shorter than the less expensive ES 300 and 8 inches shorter than the LS 430.
The GS has the usual seats for five and the hindrance of a large driveshaft tunnel from the rear-drive layout, making the center-rear seat feel like a penalty box. There is decent space for four adults. California walnut trim decorates the interior as a standard feature, but leather upholstery is optional.
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 GS 430s new 4.3-liter V-8 engine generates 300 horsepower, the same as last years smaller engine. The GS 300 uses a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine with 225 hp.
Both models use a five-speed automatic transmission, but the GS 400 loses its capability for manual shifts through steering-wheel buttons. Instead, this feature is now standard on the GS 300.
Lateral-skid control, antilock brakes and Brake Assist, which applies maximum braking force when it senses a hard push on the brake pedal, are standard on both models.