What's New for 2002
After a number of upgrades last year, the GS 300 enters 2002 unchanged.
The Lexus GS series of cars is designed to offer a blend of both sport and luxury. The GS 300 is meant to appeal to semi-cost-conscious buyers, while the GS 430 is the full-tilt V8-powered version.
A distinctive quad-headlight design sweeps back into the hood and front fenders, and short front and rear overhangs give the GS 300 a sporty look. Some people might not care for the hindquarters with creative rear taillights, but at least they keep this car from blending in with the rest of today's high-line sport sedans.
Appearances are supported by the refined drivetrain. The GS 300 uses a 3.0-liter inline six that develops 220 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm. Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) helps to produce additional power and provide optimal fuel efficiency. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available. To take advantage of the transmission's five forward gears, the GS 300 features manual upshift and downshift buttons on the steering wheel spokes, controlled by the thumb and forefinger of either hand.
A roomy cabin provides the driver and front passenger with space to stretch out. An impressive 44 inches of legroom and 58 inches of shoulder room accommodate the long-limbed and broad-shouldered in the front seats. Rear-seat passengers don't fare as well, however, and get only 34.3 inches of legroom. Luxury touches include a standard dual-zone climate control, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and the normal roster of power goodies typically found on luxury cars. Worthwhile options include a Mark Levinson premium sound system and a DVD-based navigation system that employs touchscreen controls to program routes. Unfortunately, Lexus has decided to bundle it with the audio and climate controls, which always work better with traditional buttons and knobs.
The GS 300 comes standard with Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), which is a system that employs the sensors, actuators and computer electronics of the antilock braking and traction control systems to help reduce vehicle skids caused by understeer or oversteer conditions. VSC is teamed with Brake Assist ABS; front, side and curtain airbags; and traction control to provide top-notch occupant protection.
The GS 300 sparkles on the open road. Its silent cabin, expurgated of any noise, harshness or vibration, is a portrait of tranquility. The GS 300 isolates you from any inconsistencies in the road. The four-wheel independent double wishbone suspension is configured to favor a supple, smooth ride over a taut, sporty one, which is great for the passengers, but a tad stultifying for the driver.
While we have no problem recommending the GS 300, we will point out that the car's advantages have been largely negated by the arrival of the IS 300 and all-new ES 300. The IS 300 is sportier, features the same engine and can be had with a manual transmission. The ES 300 offers nearly the same level of luxury -- navigation and a Mark Levinson sound system are available -- for a cheaper price. It would be in your best interest to check out these two cars before settling on the GS 300.