Full 2006 Lexus GS 430 Review
What's New for 2006
An all-new GS 430 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 car with an inviting interior. But as a sport sedan, the GS faltered, largely because of its size and underpowered 3.0-liter engine. Article after article called it 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. An even more powerful V8 arrived in the 2001 GS 430.
For 2006, Lexus released a completely redesigned GS 430. 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. Although this car is new from its tires to its top, it's powered by the same 4.3-liter V8 that powered its predecessor -- a double-overhead-cam all-aluminum engine that makes 300 hp, mated to a new six-speed automatic. Overall, the new GS 430 boasts all the refinement you expect, plus edgy styling and crisp performance. It's the best sport sedan from Japan in its price range, and it may even be the best sedan in its class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
This midsize four-door luxury sedan 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 delivering discrete 5.1 multichannel playback, utilizing no less than 330 watts of amplifier power and 14 speakers. Other notable options include a navigation system, moonroof and ventilated front seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The GS 430 packs Lexus' 4.3-liter V8, the same one used in the LS 430. With 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque on tap, the car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about 6 seconds, a solid effort for this class. Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) is used to provide optimal fuel efficiency and allows the GS 430 to earn Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) certification. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available. Fuel mileage estimates are 18 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway. A variable-gear ratio electronic power steering system is standard.
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
A roomy cabin 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 GS 430 sparkles on the open road. With plenty of horsepower and torque on tap, the GS 430 accelerates briskly and it makes quick work of highway passing. Its silent cabin, devoid of any noise, harshness or vibration, is a portrait of tranquility. During cornering, the chassis is solid and the multilink suspension keeps the tires pressed tight to the ground at all times, while the computer-controlled steering feels nearly perfect. Too bad all the fun is tempered by an overly aggressive and undefeatable stability control system.