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By Jim Flammang
August 15, 2006
Vehicle Overview Lexus redesigned the GS 430 sport sedan for 2006, giving it a six-speed automatic transmission and Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system. For 2007, Lexus gave drivers the option of shutting that system off, as well as some new colors and an upgraded navigation system.
Lexus used the BMW 5 Series sedan as a benchmark to develop the latest GS 430, which comes with rear-wheel drive. A 4.3-liter V-8 resides under the GS 430's hood. A new V-6 goes into the related GS 350; that model is covered separately in the Cars.com Research section.
The GS 430's VDIM anticipates instability or skidding before it occurs, monitors actual versus intended action, and helps correct problems using a mix of braking, throttle and steering control. Drivers who want to slip, slide and induce oversteer will be able to shut VDIM off in 2007 models.
A new Smart Access and Start system includes a push-button starter to fire the engine. An option group couples adaptive laser cruise control with a pre-collision system that can take appropriate steps when sensors detect that a crash is imminent. For 2007, Lexus adds Starfire Pearl, Obsidian, Black Sapphire, Smoky Granite Mica and Verdigris Mica paint options.
Exterior The automaker says the GS is more futuristic than its predecessor, touting its long hood and set-back cabin. Featuring uncluttered sheet metal, the GS 430 has a very short rear deck and wide tapered C-pillars that flow back toward the rear of the car.
Long side glass and a steep back window enhance the GS 430's performance image. Overall length is 190 inches; the GS 430 is 71.7 inches wide and the wheelbase is 112.2 inches. Aluminum wheels hold 18-inch tires, and all-season run-flat tires are optional.
Lexus' Adaptive Variable Suspension automatically selects appropriate damping and incorporates sport and manual modes. Variable gear-ratio steering changes the steering ratio for tighter or wider steering depending on the speed of the car. Differential steering control includes up to 2 inches of active steering if the driver encounters a side wind. A brake-pedal stroke sensor is installed; when tapping on the brake pedal on a downgrade, the transmission will downshift and remain in that gear.
Interior Up to five can fit comfortably in the GS 430's leather seats. Regency leather comes in a choice of three colors. Heated front seats are standard, and fan ventilation is optional. The dashboard is trimmed with genuine bird's-eye maple or California walnut wood. A variable transparency lens reduces glare on the gauges on sunny days, and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard.
A 7-inch dashboard screen can work with the optional navigation system. In 2007, that system is upgraded to include Bluetooth, voice activation and a rearview camera. 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 Performance for the GS 430's 4.3-liter V-8 remains the same, but new testing procedures mean the engine is now rated at 288 horsepower and 317 pounds-feet of torque, down slightly from 300 hp and 325 pounds-feet. The V-8 drives a six-speed automatic transmission that incorporates Normal, Power and Snow modes and has a manual-shift provision. The engine operates with a drive-by-wire throttle.
Safety New front knee airbags, side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard. Lexus' optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions.
Driving Impressions Though the GS 430 is packed with innovative technology, its operation is simple in ordinary driving. The technology enhances — rather than diminishes — the motoring experience.
While it hasn't yet been tested, it's worth noting the GS 350, with its new 3.5-liter V-6, actually makes more horsepower — 303 — than its V-8 sibling.