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Introduced in the early 1990s, the midsize GS series was Lexus' first attempt to build a sport-oriented luxury sedan. While the first-generation model didn't win much critical acclaim, successive redesigns put the GS much closer to its European rivals.
The V8-powered Lexus GS 430 debuted midway through the model's second generation. It was known for its balanced approach to luxury and performance and also benefited from Lexus' reputation for reliability. The 430 moniker was also used briefly for the third-generation GS.
Most Recent Lexus GS 430
The GS 430 version of the third-generation GS was short lived, existing for just 2006 and '07. (A year later, this V8-powered model became known as the GS 460due to the addition of a larger engine.)
It came fully equipped with a long list of features that includes adaptive xenon headlamps, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and a 10-speaker sound system. Also standard were 10 airbags, antilock brakes with brake assist and stability control. Options included a superb Mark Levinson audio system with navigation and a back-up camera, adaptive cruise control and the Pre-Collision accident preparedness system. For 2007 only, Lexus offered an optional Active Stabilizer system, which reduced body roll and generally improved the car's balance during cornering.
The Lexus GS 430 was motivated by a 4.3-liter V8 engine that produced 290 horsepower and 319 pound-feet of torque, coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. (Note that the 2006 model's V8 was rated at 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque; the '07 engine was rated using a new SAE certification procedure and actual performance was unaffected).
On the road, we were impressed with this model's powerful V8 engine, refined ride and sporty handling. The interior was spacious and could accommodate taller individuals in back. A drop-down dash panel concealed many of the lesser-used switches and secondary controls; it was a nice touch, though it could occasionally get in the way if left open. Ergonomics were otherwise a strong point, as the sedan's central touchscreen and traditional control layout were much easier to understand and use than the all-in-one control systems in rivals.
In a comparison test conducted at the time, we ranked the GS 430 above two Japanese competitors, the Acura RL and Infiniti M45. Noted downsides to the car were limited to its grabby-feeling brakes and small trunk opening.
Past Lexus GS 430 Models
The previous-generation Lexus GS 430 was sold from 2001-'05. It came with the same 300-hp, 4.3-liter V8 as the newer model, though it had a five-speed automatic transmission instead of a six-speed. The advent of the GS 430 model name coincided with a midcycle refresh for the second-generation GS sedan. From 1998-2000, the V8 version of this midsize sedan was known as the GS 400 and had a 4.0-liter V8 that made just as much horsepower but had less torque.
As part of the 2001 upgrades, the GS received a revised grille, standard HID headlights, new taillights and larger exhaust pipes. Inside, there was new trim along with standard side curtain airbags. On the options list, Mark Levinson audio replaced Nakamichi as the premium sound system. In 2003, Lexus added more standard equipment to its luxury sport sedan, including a moonroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a CD changer.
In reviewing the original Lexus GS 430, our editors found it impressively quick, comfortable and elegant, but not especially engaging to drive. "So quiet and vibration-free is the powertrain that, though plenty quick, the GS quells engine and exhaust roar to the point that rapid acceleration is rather dull," we wrote. Although lacking in entertainment value, this GS 430 makes sense as a used luxury sedan purchase, given its strong reputation for quality and durability.