Supple leather, brushed aluminum and beautiful polished woods decorate the 2011 Lexus GS's well-organized and luxuriously comfortable cabin. In a realm where typical Lexus levels of fit are expected, touches like the easy-to-follow white-on-black gauges, well-placed basic controls and clever array of function switches hidden behind a drop-down panel on the dash set the GS apart from the traditional choices. Formed power front bucket seats will carry anyone in comfort, with the bucketed rear bench having sufficient head and legroom to handle a pair of adults and children (only) in the center spot.
It's difficult to call any car's design aggressive and subtle in the same breath, but it almost has to be done with the GS. At first glance one could be forgiven for noticing only the badge and letting the eyes move on, but a longer second glance reveals a sedan which has really come into its own after styling tweaks for the 2008 and 2010 model years. The front fascia gives the GS a bit of a sneer, and its lower, wider stance lends an air of sport to the elegant bodywork. The well-proportioned windshield view provides good outward visibility while the bi-xenon HID headlamps and quick-responding LED taillamps make it easier to see and be seen regardless of time of day or conditions. All GS models come with standard alloy wheels: The GS 350 sports 225/50WR17 performance tires, with the GS 350 AWD opting for an all-season run-flat alternative and the GS 460 rolling on 245/40ZR18s.
Notable Standard Equipment
Every Lexus GS comes equipped to justify its place in the luxury sedan market. Beyond the available powertrains, you'll find leather-covered and heated 10-way power front seats (heated and ventilated in the GS 460), SmartAccess keyless locking and starting, dual-zone climate control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, a seven-inch multifunction display screen, Bluetooth connectivity, an advanced anti-lock brake (ABS) package, Smart Stop Technology, driver-switchable Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system and front, front-side, side-curtain and knee airbags. Standard on the GS 460, and optional on the GS 350, are Adaptive Variable suspension and the corner-following Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS).
Notable Optional Equipment
The list of options for the GS is fairly short, including a 330-watt Mark Levinson Premium Sound System, DVD-based voice-activated navigation system and the Lexus Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Other single items of note include computer-controlled Active Power Stabilizer Suspension System, all-season run-flat tires, park assist and a rear spoiler. There are three choices (Golden Bird's-Eye Maple, Red Walnut and Dark Grey Bird's-Eye Maple) for the interior wood trim, dependent on which color interior the driver chooses.
Under the Hood
Both the V6 available in the GS 350 models and the GS 460's V8 are clinics in modern engine construction, from their weight-saving aluminum construction to the variable valve timing used to optimize both performance and efficiency. The 3.5-liter V6 in the GS 350 and GS 350 AWD turns out 303 horsepower and 274 pound-feet of torque, to send either car from zero to 60 mph in under six seconds when backed by the six-speed automatic. The 4.6-liter V8 in the GS 460 ups the output figures to 342 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. Teamed with a sophisticated eight-speed sequential automatic transmission, it allows the GS 460 to complete the 0-60 mph run in 5.4 seconds. FYI: Manual-style gear changes still must be made using the console lever, as neither transmission offers steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons or paddles.
303 horsepower @ 6200 rpm 274 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (RWD), 18/25 (AWD)
342 horsepower @ 6200 rpm 339 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24
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