2000 LEXUS GS 300/400 GS 300
Used Car - 2000 Lexus GS 300/400 GS 300 in Hamilton, Oh
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2000 Lexus GS 300/400 ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
This competes with Europe's best luxury sports sedans.
The Lexus GS 400 offers brilliant acceleration performance. It will cruise all day at speeds that are not at all socially acceptable. It is an extremely stable car in fast, sweeping turns that instills confidence in the driver. And it offers excellent sports sedan performance on winding roads.
Inside is a sumptuous interior with the brilliant ergonomics that have made Lexus famous. Quality is excellent. The first thing you notice about the GS series, however, is its wild styling. The GS looks like no other Lexus. Whether parked or whipping down the road, this car silences critics who say Lexus cars have no soul.
Two models are available: GS 300 ($37,605); GS 400 ($46,005).
GS 300 shares its high-output 220-horsepower 3.0-liter inline-6 with the Lexus SC 300 coupe. The wickedly fun GS 400 comes with a 4.0-liter double overhead-cam V8 that produces 300 horsepower. Both come with five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmissions.
Our GS 400 came with the Premium Package ($3,055), which includes the Leather Trim Package, six-disc in-dash CD changer, automatic dimming outside mirrors, power moonroof, heated front seats and the excellent high-intensity discharge low-beam headlights.
The Lexus GS makes a statement from all angles. From the side, it presents a dramatically sloping nose with a cab-forward placement of the lower edge of the windshield. A thin, graceful roofline arches back to a stubby rear deck. A chrome strip surrounds the side windows and accents the shape of the glass. This strikes an interesting contrast with the flat black window posts. For engineering reasons, the rear side glass is divided into a third window, which breaks up an otherwise graceful sweep of glass.
Unique football-shaped headlights sweep up and back into the fender. Large multi-lens taillights wrap around to the sides, making a strong design statement from the rear. Small, separate brake lights adorn the rear. The bottom of the rear fascia has a gentle race car-like curl between the twin tailpipes for improved aerodynamics. An optional rear spoiler heightens the car's appearance as a high-performance sedan. Five-spoke aluminum wheels that say this car means business. Some critics have charged that Lexus cars, though nearly flawless, are lacking in character. Clearly, this is not the case with the GS series.
Lots of leather, thick carpeting and tasteful design provide a pleasant environment inside the GS 400. It manages to feel roomy and cozy at the same time. The GS 400 instrument panel and dashboard is a refreshing departure from other designs from Japan. Turn on the ignition and a black panel illuminates to reveal gauges with black markings on white faces lighted from the rear. The intensity of the backlighting automatically varies with ambient light. The gauges are a handsome, creative design and are easy to read.
Audio and climate controls are logically laid out and easy to use with separate heating and cooling controls for driver and passenger. A hydrocarbon air pollution sensor automatically switches to the recirculation mode when contamination is detected.
An optional navigation system fills the center of the dash, moving stereo and climate controls to the top and bottom of an information screen. The Navigation System Package ($7,065) is an expensive, but comprehensive set of options that includes the aforementioned Premium Package, Leather Trim Package, and adds the Lexus navigation system, heated front seats, heated mirrors and the excellent high-intensity discharge headlamps.
Opening and closing power windows and moonroof are a one-touch operation. A sensor stops the window or moonroof and warns the driver when anything -- such as the head of a child or pet -- is blocking its path. The supplied keyless remote can be used to operate the windows and moonroof automatically, depending on the season. A hidden electric garage door opener can be programmed for nearly all frequencies.
The view out the front of the GS 400 is excellent, but the rear view is restricted somewhat by the rear headrests and wide C-pillars. Lexus GS models come standard with seat-mounted side-impact air bags.
The trunk lid raises a full 90 degrees and the lift-over height is low for easier loading and unloading. At 14.8 cubic feet, the cargo capacity is comparable to other cars this size.
The GS 400 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6 seconds, putting it in a league with some of the world's best sports cars and sports sedans. It offers comparable acceleration performance to the BMW 540i with its 282-horsepower V8; both cars stomp the comparably sized Mercedes-Benz E320 with a 221-horsepower V6.
Lexus redesigned its 4.0-liter V8 engine before dropping it into the GS 400. It boasts four camshafts (dohc) and 32 valves. Variable valve timing allows the engine to deliver strong torque at low engine speeds, while providing healthy horsepower at higher speeds -- often mutually exclusive benefits. The engine produces 300 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque. Most of that torque (80 percent) is available at just 1800 rpm, giving the GS 400 lots of around town cruising power and allowing it to sprint away from intersections. In spite of its impressive acceleration performance, the GS 400 nets an EPA-rated 24 mpg on the highway.
Lexus GS 300 uses a 3.0-liter, 220-horsepower inline 6-cylinder engine. It can make the run to 60 mph in a quick 7.6 seconds, which is quicker than the E320. Yet the GS 300 boasts a 25-mpg EPA highway rating. Its top speed is electronically governed at 144 mph, while the GS 400 is governed at 149 mph. The GS 300 doesn't have all the features of the GS 400 and it certainly isn't as fast, but its price is $8,400 less.
All Lexus GS sedans come with a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with a console shifter. The transmission is designed to be shifted manually as well. The top half of the shift gate has the familiar PRND markings. To the left of Drive is M for manual. Pulling the shifter toward the left permits manually downshifting and upshifting using the shift lever. This can also be accomplished by using the Formula 1 racing-inspired buttons on the front and back of the steering wheel. Pushing the button on the front of the steering wheel downshifts one gear. Pushing the button behind the wheel upshifts one gear. A readout at the bottom of the speedometer displays the selected gear. Electronics prevent downshifting above the engine's redline.
Like all true high-performance cars, the Lexus GS is rear-wheel drive. With all that horsepower, right-foot gratification is instantaneous and substantial. In fact, drivers inexperienced with high horsepower ratings may find themselves intimidated the first few times they apply full throttle. The GS 400 practically leaps off the road when given full throttle. There is plenty of engine noise, but it is a high-tech mechanical sound rather than the angry noise of a Corvette's V8. However, the force pushing the driver back into the seat is very Corvette like.
Under normal driving conditions, however, the GS 400 is a perfect gentleman. It is sedate and effortless with just the right amount of steering effort to instill a firm feeling of control often missing in luxury cars. The ride quality more like a BMW than a Cadillac - firm, but not harsh. The suspension absorbs road variations, while providing reassurance in tight turns and fast sweepers.
Stellar acceleration performance is backed up by big high-performance brakes. The GS 400 stops quickly and without drama. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic traction control and Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) are standard. New for 2000 is the Brake Assist system, which comes standard. Brake Assist interprets a quick push of the brake pedal as emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the brake pedal, the system supplements the applied braking power. It's an excellent safety feature as many of us do not always full use the potential stopping power in an emergency situation. Vehicle Skid Control uses the brakes to bring the car back on course if it senses the car is going in a direction not consistent with the steering wheel position. VSC can be switched off using the console mounted button.
Handling is excellent on winding roads. It probably is.
Buyers considering a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E Class should look closely at a GS 400. The all-new Lexus GS 400 delivers awe-inspiring performance and a head-turning exterior design. There is simply nothing like it on the road today.
GS 300 ($37,605); GS 400 ($46,005).
Options As Tested
Rear spoiler ($440); Premium Package ($3,860) includes Leather Trim Package (leather seating surfaces, leather-wrapped console cover, leather door trim panels, leather headrests, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, memory system for seats, mirrors and steering column), 6-disc CD changer, power moonroof, automatic dimming outside mirrors, high-intensity discharge headlamps.
GS 400 ($46,005).