Full 2006 Lexus GS 300 Review
What's New for 2006
An all-new GS 300 debuts for 2006.
When the GS was first introduced in 1993, it was intended as a splash of scarlet in Lexus' inoffensive sedan lineup, as well as being Japan's answer to German sport sedans. It was an attractive Lexus car with an inviting interior. But as a sport sedan, the Lexus GS faltered, largely because of its size and underpowered 3.0-liter engine.
Article after article called the Lexus GS a comfortable, competent handler that was seriously lacking a vibrant powertrain. Not content to take much flak over the competitiveness of its products, Lexus redid the car in 1998 with more dramatic styling and an available V8 engine. This V8 made the GS 400 one of the most powerful four-door sedans available at the time. The Lexus GS 300 was meant to appeal to semi-cost-conscious buyers wanting a blend of sport and luxury. To that end, it came supplied with a decent amount of luxury equipment and a 220-hp, 3.0-liter inline six. For 2006, Lexus released a completely redesigned GS 300. Some hints of the previous GS shape carry over to the new car, especially up front, but most of the former ovoid proportions are replaced by taut surfaces and defined creases. The long, sloping roofline and very short deck create a pronounced fastback effect.
Inside, fine materials, tasteful design and that impeccable touch the company does so well are still here. Thanks to a new 24-valve double-overhead-cam engine, peak power is up by 20 hp, from 225 to 245, and the V6 benefits from a slick new six-speed automatic. For improved efficiency, the engine features direct fuel injection and a variable valve timing system, which now adjusts both intake and exhaust cams. Plus, its engine block is cast in aluminum (the old straight-six it replaces was iron), which helps the new GS 300 shed approximately 100 pounds overall. Another notable change is the availability of all-wheel drive. Overall, the 2006 Lexus GS 300 boasts all the refinement you expect, plus edgy styling and crisp performance.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Lexus GS 300 is a midsize four-door luxury sedan that comes in just one trim level. Luxury touches include standard dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an in-dash CD changer. Optional is an impressive-sounding Mark-Levinson audio system that delivers discrete 5.1 multichannel playback, utilizing no less than 330 watts of amplifier power and 14 speakers. Other notable options include a navigation system, a moonroof, ventilated front seats and a rearview camera parking assist system.
Powertrains and Performance
The GS 300 uses a 3.0-liter light-alloy V6 that develops 245 horsepower. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available. To take advantage of the transmission's six forward gears, the Lexus GS 300 features manual-style upshift and downshift controls. An all-wheel-drive system is also available.
Safety equipment includes front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length head curtain airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with BrakeAssist, traction control and stability control. An optional Pre-Collision System (PCS), which is packaged with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, uses a millimeter-wave radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car and a computer that reads vehicle speed, yaw rate and steering angle. If the computer determines that a collision is unavoidable it preemptively stiffens the suspension, retracts the front seatbelts and preinitializes BrakeAssist so increased braking is applied the instant the brake pedal is depressed.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Lexus GS 300 has a roomy cabin that provides the driver and front passenger with space to stretch out. Impressive amounts of leg- and shoulder room easily accommodate the long-limbed and broad-shouldered. The cabin is outfitted with rich wood trim and handsome light-sensitive gauges housed in chrome-ringed pods. Materials quality is excellent, and everything is assembled with precision. Another nice touch is the hidden controls, evidence of the now legendary Lexus attention to detail. Company designers have hidden many of the lesser used secondary controls -- like the power mirror switches and the dimmer switch for the interior lights -- into a retracting panel that hides itself away in the dash to the left of the steering wheel.
The 2006 Lexus GS 300 sparkles on the open road. Its silent cabin, devoid of any noise, harshness or vibration, is a portrait of tranquility. During modest cornering, the chassis is solid and the multilink suspension keeps the tires pressed tight to the ground at all times. Compared to the faster GS 430, the V6 car is quicker on its feet and more poised. It doesn't pull as hard as the V8, naturally, but unless you drive them back-to-back, you might not care.