Don't waste much sympathy on Toyota, since it sits atop this industry's loftiest mountain of cash. But the global auto giant still faces a challenge when trying to inject a little more adrenaline into its Lexus products.
In cooking up the 2006 GS 300 (and the V8-powered GS 430), Lexus wanted a little more moxie, a little more swagger. And yet the principles of smoothness, silence, refinement and general conservatism that define the Lexus brand could not be violated.
"With this all-new GS," asserts Denny Clements, Lexus group vice president and general manager, "we will change the perception of what a performance sedan is all about."
How did the carmaker do? As GS 300 reviews roll in, we're confident the consensus will be that Lexus' midrange luxury sport sedan has been energized without being misdirected.
Sharpening the Edge Some hint of the previous GS shape carries over to the new car, especially in the face. But most of the former ovoid proportions are replaced by taut surfaces and crisp creases. The long, sloping roofline and very short deck create a pronounced fastback effect. Overall the car is a hair shorter, narrower and longer than a 5 Series.
Inside, a Lexus is a Lexus is a Lexus. Fine materials, tasteful design and that impeccable touch the company does so well are still here. We might pick nits and suggest that the large, unadorned expanse of dash in front of the passenger looks a little stark. But the GS cabin will feel entirely familiar to a Lexus fan, and comfortingly polished to most anyone. Previous GS owners will recognize the gated shifter and three-pod gauge cluster.
But it's in the performance arena that Lexus really wants to differentiate this new car. The sprinter is the GS 430, using the same 300-horsepower, 4.3-liter V8 it has relied upon since 2001. With a new six-speed automatic transmission, this car is good for a claimed 0-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds and a governed top speed of 149 — the fastest Lexus ever. The GS 430 starts at $51,125, and we will have one in a full comparison test shortly.
The volume seller, though, will be the $42,900 GS 300, which makes use of an all-new ultrasmooth 24-valve double-overhead cam V6 engine. For improved efficiency, it features direct fuel injection and a variable valve timing system, which now adjusts both intake and exhaust cams. Plus, its engine block is cast in aluminum (the old straight-six it replaces was iron), which helps the '06 GS 300 shed approximately 100 pounds overall.
Peak power is up by 20 hp, from 225 to 245, and the V6 also benefits from the slick new six-speed automatic, so performance clearly improves, even in this "base" car. The last GS 300 we tested (1999) gave 7.5 seconds to 60. We expect the new one to be in the high-6-second range.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink Tech junkies and acronym lovers have lots to swoon over in the new GS line. The 430 gets a new Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system (VDIM) that works with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), traction control (TRAC), BrakeAssist (BA), antilock brake system (ABS), Electronic Throttle Control with intelligence (ECT-i), electric power steering (EPS), Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) and electronically controlled brakes (ECB).
The GS 300 gets along without some of the new-generation trickery (VDIM, VGRS and ECB), but we noticed no dynamic problems that called for additional techno-fizz, even during hard driving. We also weren't distracted by the overt intervention of electronic nannies, which is good.
Among the decisions GS 300 buyers now get to make is whether all-wheel drive suits their style. Lexus has ambitious hopes for the $44,850 all-wheel-drive version, which weighs 224 pounds more and trades slightly busier road feedback for the added traction. (Also, a GS 450h hybrid will roll out in about a year.)
The other big choice (not really a choice at all) concerns the spectacular Mark Levinson premium sound option. It's a true surround system, delivering discrete 5.1 multichannel playback, utilizing no less than 330 watts of amplifier power and 14 speakers.
The Big Secret Obviously, the GS 300 will not hog the performance spotlight the way the GS 430 will, but you know what? The lighter, better-balanced GS 300 gave us a driving experience we might judge more pleasant all around. With less mass in the nose, the V6 car is quicker on its feet and more poised. It doesn't pull as hard as the V8, naturally, but unless you drive them back-to-back, you might not care.
However you spec out a 2006 Lexus GS, you'll find a spirited, sophisticated, elegant automobile that hits both the "luxury" and "sport" targets Toyota aimed for in this modern luxury sport sedan.
2006 Lexus GS 300 Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2006 Lexus GS 300 and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2006 GS 300 featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2006 Lexus GS 300 and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2006 GS 300 4.7 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2006 GS 300.
Vehicle 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6A)
Review First, I have had over 20 different vehicles, but this is my first "luxury" vehicle, so I cannot compare this car to other luxury vehicles. Having said that, I have no reason whatsoever to want to drive any other type of car but a Lexus. I am a full time nursing student and commute at least 2 hours a day depending on clinical location, so comfort and fuel economy is at the top of my "car" priority list. This car meets all of my standards and then some. It is so smooth and comfortable, it almost drives itself. I also have a Challenger R/T so if I have a need to "feel the road" I drive it, but I choose to drive this car 95% of the time due to its comfort, excellent gas mileage (I consistently get 30 mpg highway or more, long trips I get around 33.9 avg) ease in driving, acceleration, and classy looks. I will try to break down some pro's and con's for those of you who are considering one. Pro's: Beautiful looks, plenty of leg room (my husband is 6'3" and fits comfortably) well crafted interior, VERY comfortable ride, great acceleration, excellent gas mileage, decent technology (car is 9 years old!), CASSETTE player for those of us who grew up in the '80's and still have a few tapes, great exterior lighting for entry/exit of vehicle, high safety rating, sport mode, and many more pro's that I am probably forgetting. My favorite car before this one was a Nissan Maxima, and it does not hold a candle to this Lexus. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS CAR to anyone who likes a soft, powerful ride and great gas mileage combined with good looks. Last but certainly not least, Lexus customer service is second to none. There was a recall on this model earlier this year. I went online to Lexus.com and scheduled the maintenance, easy - peasey. I took the car (that I did not buy from them) to Butler Lexus in Macon, GA for the servicing. Not only did they give me a brand new Lexus RX350 SUV to drive for two days, when I went to pick up my car, it was clean and full of premium gas- for FREE. I didn't pay a dime for the recall, the carwash/ vacuum, or the gas. Each time I have taken it in for servicing they always wash it and vacuum it, so yeah, I will be buying another Lexus. Con's: Not very many, but here are a few: Lacklustre sound system - however, I love rock and roll and like to crank it up, so this may not be an issue for you (Mine does not have the Mark Levinson), unreliable bluetooth (but at least it HAS bluetooth- it is almost 10 years old!) an annoying thing where the rear view mirrors tilt down in reverse and then won't go back to the preset position- you can turn this feature off but it is easily reactivated, so it gets annoying sometimes, NO TRUNK OR HOOD LIGHT!!!- why????, and a very common issue with these cars is a cold start rattling sound. I have heard this is a crank shaft pulley or something of the sort that costs around $1,600, so I will live with the noise for awhile. The lowbeam lights are ridiculously dim and you can barely see the road at night if it does not have prominent yellow markings. That great gas mileage I referred to comes at a "premium"- the car requires premium fuel. This was not an issue for me; I always use premium, but for those of you who like to use 87 Octane, this might be an issue. That's about it. My car is an '06, Crystal White with tan interior, with 159,000 miles on it. I get MANY compliments on this car and people think it is much newer than it is. I love it and will almost certainly buy a newer version of it when I am finished with nursing school. I hope this helps!
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Available Lexus GS 300 2006 Submodel Types: Sedan
Available Trims: Base
Exterior Colors: Black Onyx, Mercury Metallic, Crystal White, Millennium Silver Metallic, Mystic Gold Metallic, Quartz Shadow Metallic, Glacier Frost Mica, Matador Red Mica, Black, Black Cherry Pearl, Burnished Gold Pearl Metallic, Cypress Pearl, Mystic Sea Opalescent, Silver Metallic
Interior Colors: Black leather, Ivory, Black, Cashmere leather, Ash leather
Popular Features: Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Bluetooth, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Heated seats, Leather Seats, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Remote Start, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Upgraded Headlights, AWD/4WD, Sunroof/Moonroof