Full 2008 Lexus GS 460 Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Lexus GS 460 name is new this year, but the car is pretty much last year's GS 430 with a new 4.6-liter V8 and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The larger engine gives a substantial 52-horsepower boost versus the outgoing 4.3-liter power plant. Like other GS sedans, the 460 also receives a new front fascia, integrated turn signals in the side mirrors and interior trim refinements, including restyled gauges.
It wasn't that long ago when sedan shoppers who desired equal helpings of luxury and performance faced a very short, European-dominated menu from which to choose. Introduced 15 years ago, the original Lexus GS was aimed squarely at sport sedans from Germany in an attempt to field a legitimate contender in the premium midsize sedan class. Although it was a stylish and well-crafted alternative, the GS' weighty luxury bias and underwhelming power didn't pose much of a threat to more serious rivals. With the addition of V8 power and continual massaging over the years, however, Lexus engineers have succeeded in making the GS a much more desirable alternative for those seeking a refined and fun-to-drive luxury sport sedan.
The third-generation GS series arrived in 2006 equipped with the same 4.3-liter V8 seen in the previous car, but upped the ante with a bit more power. The 2008 Lexus GS 460 raises the stakes again with a new 4.6-liter V8 sporting 342 horsepower, which now surpasses the GS 350's 303-hp V6 by an appropriately healthy margin. By also adding a new eight-speed automatic transmission, the GS 460 further cements its status as a true contender against such segment stalwarts as the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Like the rest of Lexus' midsize sedans, the GS 460 also receives a mild cosmetic makeover this year with a restyled front fascia, sideview mirror turn signals, revised gauges and handsome new aluminum trim adorning its instrument panel and console. Carrying over are the same rakish styling, flawless build quality, exemplary ride and handling, and full complement of luxury features Lexus customers have come to expect.
The 2008 Lexus GS 460 is one of the few midsize luxury sedans that offers an adjustable suspension plus an optional active stabilizer suspension system to reduce body roll and improve vehicle control when cornering. Even so, those looking for sport sedan reflexes that emphasize maximum feedback should also take a look at the BMW 5 Series or Infiniti M45, as they engage the driver more fully. But if you have a luxury bias and appreciate an elegant sedan that serves up performance and refinement in equally large portions, you won't go wrong choosing a GS 460.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
In true Lexus fashion, the 2008 GS 460 luxury sport sedan is offered in a single, fully equipped trim level. It comes with a long list of standard amenities that include 18-inch wheels, adaptive HID headlights, automatic dual-zone climate control, 10-way power front seats with heating and ventilation, a sunroof, keyless ignition and a 10-speaker premium audio system. Factory options include satellite radio, parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, the Active Power Stabilizer suspension system and a phenomenal 14-speaker Mark Levinson DVD-audio sound system with navigation and a back-up camera.
Powertrains and Performance
The GS 460 is equipped with a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 342 hp and 339 pound-feet of torque. It drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with automanual shift control. According to Lexus, the GS 460 can sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. The EPA reports an equally impressive estimated fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, above average compared with other V8-powered cars in its class.
Standard GS 460 safety equipment includes antilock brakes with brake assist and stability and traction controls. Inside are a total of 10 airbags, including front and rear seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags and full-length head curtain airbags. Optional features include run-flat tires, Lexus Link communications and Lexus' Pre-Collision System with adaptive cruise control. This technology uses a radar sensor to detect objects in front of the car, plus a computer that tracks vehicle speed, yaw rate and steering angle. If the computer determines that a collision is imminent, it immediately firms up the suspension, activates the seatbelt pre-tensioners and engages brake assist when the brake pedal is depressed. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the 2008 Lexus GS 460 series received a top-ranked "Good" rating for both frontal-offset and side-impact collisions.
Interior Design and Special Features
In keeping with Lexus tradition, the GS 460 sports a luxurious and well-crafted cabin. Though spacious enough for five passengers, it accommodates four more comfortably, as the elevated rear center cushion makes for a tighter fit in the middle position. Also, taller occupants may find their heads uncomfortably close to the roof. Genuine wood and aluminum trim complements the rich leather seating surfaces, and it's all put together with flawless fit and finish. The optional navigation system features high-resolution graphics that make it easy to operate at a glance; however, the audio controls lose some functionality as they become integrated into the touchscreen. Also, the highly polished wood can reflect glare annoyingly at times, and the control-oriented drop-down dash panel to the left of the steering wheel can get in the way of the driver's exit if left open.
The 2008 Lexus GS 460 provides composed and well-balanced performance with a nearly perfect compromise between sport sedan response and touring sedan comfort. The standard adaptive suspension offers a plush ride in Comfort mode, while the Sport setting noticeably firms up the damping. When the optional Active Stabilizer suspension is added, body roll during cornering is also considerably reduced. Grip at the limit is superb thanks to 18-inch Z-rated performance tires.
One minor weakness involves the brakes, which some drivers find non-progressive and a bit touchy at first. This unusual pedal feel is quickly taken in stride, however, and the braking system otherwise stops the nearly 2-ton GS 460 quickly and with reassuring authority. The cabin is remarkably quiet, and the new V8 engine provides ample power whether commuting or driving more aggressively.