Used 2003 Lexus GS 300 Sedan

2003 Lexus GS 300
List price range
2003 Lexus GS 300


  • Silky engine, available Mark Levinson audio system, blend of luxury and sport.


  • Average acceleration, doesn't communicate with the driver enough given the sporting mission of the car.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A capable and comfortable car. The IS 300 is sportier, however, and the ES 300 is nearly as luxurious for considerably less money.

vehicle overview

Introduction: 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 in enthusiast magazines would call 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. Since then, the GS has received minor tweaks and upgrades.

With the GS, Lexus hopes to attract buyers wanting a blend of both sport and luxury. The GS 300, in particular, is meant to appeal to semi-cost-conscious buyers. While we have no problem recommending the GS 300, we will point out that the car's advantages have been largely negated by the arrival of the IS 300 and the new-for-2002 ES 300. The IS 300 is sportier, features the same engine and can be had with a manual transmission. The ES 300 offers nearly the same level of interior room and luxury for a cheaper price. It would be in your best interest to check out these two cars before settling on the GS 300. Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: This midsize four-door luxury sedan features a distinctive quad-headlight design and short front and rear overhangs to give the car a sporty look. Some people might not care for the hindquarters with creative rear taillights, but at least they keep this car from blending in with the rest of today's high-line sport sedans.

Luxury touches include a standard dual-zone climate control, a power tilting and telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a moonroof and an in-dash CD changer. Cloth seating is standard, however, so you'll have to pay extra for leather. It's available as a stand-alone option, but quite likely you'll find it packaged into cars with the optional navigation and Mark Levinson premium sound systems. The impressive-sounding 240-watt ML system includes 10 speakers and a six-disc in-dash CD changer.

Powertrains and Performance: The GS 300 uses a 3.0-liter inline six that develops 220 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm. Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) helps to produce additional power and provide optimal fuel efficiency. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available. To take advantage of the transmission's five forward gears, the GS 300 features manual upshift and downshift buttons on the steering wheel spokes, controlled by the thumb and forefinger of either hand. Safety: Front passengers are protected by front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. All seating positions (except the driver's) have ALR/ELR three-point seatbelts. Other safety features include antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control and Vehicle Skid Control (VSC). The NHTSA has not tested the GS, though the IIHS has given the car a "good" rating for its performance in the frontal-offset crash test. Interior Design and Special Features: A roomy cabin provides the driver and front passenger with space to stretch out. An impressive 44 inches of legroom and 58 inches of shoulder room accommodate the long-limbed and broad-shouldered in the front seats. Rear-seat passengers don't fare as well, however, and get less room than what is offered in the ES 300. Driving Impressions: The GS 300 sparkles on the open road. Its silent cabin, expurgated of any noise, harshness or vibration, is a portrait of tranquility. During modest cornering, the chassis is quite solid and the multilink suspension keeps the tires pressed tight to the ground at all times. A noticeable amount of body roll limits high-speed antics, but this year's wider tires help to improve overall grip. The 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine is quite smooth. But with a curb weight of more than 3,600 pounds, the GS 300 offers only mediocre acceleration. If you're looking for speed, the GS 430 is the smarter choice.

2003 Highlights

The only changes of note for the GS 300 this year are a now standard moonroof, an in-dash CD changer and wider tires (going from a 215mm tread to a 225mm tread).

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Lexus GS 300.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

GS300 SportDesign
Traded in a 95 LS400 which had 173000 miles and still going strong. The GS300 car handles as good as my 91 corvette without the harsh ride. It is firmer than the LS400 but not harsh. The inline 6 cylinder is smooth as silk. Took a long trip and got 26.5 MPG; in 5th gear at 70mph it is turning 2800 RPM,which seems high for overdrive (compared to 2200RPM on the LS400). This car is an excellent blend of performance and luxury. The brakes are much more responsive than I am used to, but really prefer that. You must drive one of these, very impressive!
My first Lexus set the standard for me
I bought this car for my wife new in late 2002. We loaded it with every option including the Mark Levison audio and the Navigation. We also looked at the Audi A6 and the Lincoln LS-E. The GS300 was hands down the winner. There was no comparison. The fit and finish of this car is amazing. The styling of the exterior was what really made the decision for us. The interior is so amazingly comfortable and everything just fits well and works well. The Lexus navigation was so much better than the Audi and Lincoln. We both love this car and bought a second Lexus when I was ready to replace my SUV.
Sport Design
The Sport Edition GS 300 is a fun car to drive. It has all of the amenities and elegance of the GS 300 but it has a Euro tuned suspension and sportier accents. This car also has HID lights not found on the standard GS 300 (only in the GS 430 model. This is a smooth and quiet car that is a joy to drive. I especially like the fact that 3 car seats can fit in the rear.
Greatest car ever!
If you want styling, design, reliability, performance and comfort, this is the car for you! The car is super quiet! Sound system is awesome! Couldn't ask for a better car! (BMW & Mercedes can't touch it!)
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Features & Specs

16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
220 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 2003 Lexus GS 300 Sedan features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2003 Lexus GS 300
Used 2003 Lexus GS 300 Sedan Overview

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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Lexus GS 300?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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