Used 1996 Lexus GS 300 Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

A five-speed automatic transmission makes the GS 300 feel more sporty, while rear styling revisions and five new exterior colors update the suave exterior. Side-impact standards for 1997 are met this year, and the power moonroof features one-touch operation.

Vehicle overview

Some readers may think we're goofy, but when the GS 300 first appeared we kept confusing it with the Ford Mustang when one of them approached us on the road. Understandable perhaps, since the Mustang was released at about the same time. We don't know if this similarity in front styling is a good or a bad thing. It could be good that the Lexus sport sedan resembles the quintessential American sport coupe, lending the GS a decidedly rakish look. It could be bad if status-seeking buyers interested in a premium sport sedan find that the car looks like a brash boy-racer hot rod. Whatever the verdict, we were quite embarassed when discovering that the approaching Mustang GT was in fact the Lexus, but the way cars are styled these days, it's often difficult to tell what brand, let alone what model, a vehicle is from a distance of ten feet or more.

From the side, this Lexus is easily identifiable. The unique roofline gives it away instantly. The GS 300 is a very attractive car, aside from an odd taillight design and rather hefty-looking rear quarters. Inside, the GS is pure Lexus, with electro-luminescent gauges, near perfect control placement, and luxury touches everywhere you look.

The GS 300 is powered by a 220-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six cylinder, which provides slightly sluggish acceleration for a sport-minded sedan. For 1995, this Lexus receives no changes.

Slotted between the ES 300 and the LS 400, the GS doesn't come cheap. It is a solid, competent car, but lacks a distinct personality. Sometimes the relentless pursuit of perfection can lead to some rather dull consequences, and at more than $40,000, the GS makes a good argument for the buying a 5-Series BMW.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.