2002 Lexus GS 430 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful engine, plenty of safety technology on-board, available Mark Levinson audio system, blend of both luxury and sport.
  • Navigation system bundled with controls that work better with knobs and buttons
  • doesn't communicate with the driver enough, given the sporting mission of the car.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$2,193 - $4,831

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A sedan to consider if you can't decide which you like more, luxury or sport.

Vehicle overview

Some people use the term vanilla pejoratively, in reference to something bland. It is also subject to such neologisms as "vanillified" or "vanilla-esque," for something that's been toned down, stripped of its zing. But who hates vanilla? We can't find anyone who wholly dislikes it. It's just a matter of degrees of preference.

Think of the GS 430 as a dish of delicious vanilla ice cream. It's good in itself. No one will be averse to it. But many will prefer fancier desserts.

Looking to create the ultimate sport sedan in both price and performance, Lexus redesigned its GS series in 1998 and came up with two cars that have aged extraordinarily well. Armed with a powerful V8 engine, the GS 430 is one model that can hang with the best Europe has to offer.

A distinctive quad-headlight design sweeps back into the hood and front fenders and short front and rear overhangs give the GS 430 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.

Appearances are supported by a 4.3-liter V8 that develops 300 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 rpm. Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) helps to provide optimal fuel efficiency, as well, allowing the GS 430 to earn ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) certification. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available.

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 only 34.3 inches of legroom.

The GS 430 sparkles on the open road. Its silent cabin, expurgated of any noise, harshness or vibration, is a portrait of tranquility. The GS 430 isolates you from any inconsistencies in the road. The four-wheel independent double wishbone suspension is configured to favor a supple, smooth ride over a taut, sporty one, which is great for the passengers, but a tad stultifying for the driver.

Luxury touches include a standard dual-zone climate control, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and the normal roster of power goodies typically found on luxury cars. Worthwhile options include a Mark Levinson premium sound system and a DVD-based navigation system that employs touchscreen controls to program routes. Unfortunately, Lexus has decided to bundle it with the audio and climate controls, which always work better with traditional buttons and knobs.

Standard equipment includes Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), which is a system that employs the sensors, actuators and computer electronics of the antilock braking and traction control systems to help reduce vehicle skids caused by understeer or oversteer conditions. VSC is teamed with Brake Assist ABS; front, side and curtain airbags; and traction control to provide top-notch occupant protection.

As with other vehicles in the Lexus line, road feel and absolute performance take a backseat to pure luxury and refinement. Audi's A6 4.2 and BMW's 540i offer a bit more fun, and the Mercedes E430 has, well, the Mercedes emblem on the hood. The GS also holds a tenuous spot within the Lexus lineup; it's not as sporty as the IS 300, nor is it as luxurious as the LS 430. But for a reliable daily driver with a hint of sporting capability, it's tough to beat the Lexus GS 430.

2002 Highlights

After a number of upgrades last year, the GS 430 enters 2002 unchanged.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 Lexus GS 430.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Best car I've ever owned!!!!
4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)
This car brings a perpetual smile to my face every time I drive it. Took me several months to find a late-model GS 430 that was well-maintained - can't afford a new one. I'd much rather buy a 4-year-old Lexus than a new car any day. Used to have an LS 400, and while it was a great car too, it was almost too refined to be fun to drive. The GS 430 is all about driving excitement if you ask me. The GS 430 has a great balance between sportiness and comfort. It filters out harsh road noise and vibration, while letting you know that it has 300+HP under the hood. Works well for my family with two carseats in the back. The Z-rated tires are pricey and wear out quickly so budget for tires!
Top Ten...REALLY!!!!!!
4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)
This is one of the BEST luxury sport rocket money can buy. I really love the design concept, the overall built quality and the best part of it-the VIP treatment I experienced in the dealership.The responsiveness of the engine, I can say-outstanding!I am very happy and satisfied with this car,the dealership/staff treatment and the compliments I get everywhere I go. I truly am happy and too young to own a LEXUS!!!
Smooth and fast
4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)
This is by far one of the most reliable, well built, and luxurious vehicles on the market. The interior is silent, the engine is outstanding, brakes flawless, and the seats, stereo system, nav controls make for a very serene experience. However, for a sports sedan, it is much too soft, and the steering is much too light. In addition, the car can be harsh and twitchy with the optional 17 inch wheels. Soft springs and low profile tires just don't mix well. Stick with the 16 inch wheels and don't expect too much from the chassis, and you will be very happy. Overall a great car, but not a very emotion-evoking one.
Best new car I have ever owned
4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)
112,000 miles and only 1 repair (at 108,000 miles hood release cable broke). Wish Lexus would use Bose radio (Levinson sounds great but radio reception is only average).


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
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2002 Lexus GS 430

Used 2002 Lexus GS 430 Overview

The Used 2002 Lexus GS 430 is offered in the following submodels: GS 430 Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Lexus GS 430?

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Which used 2002 Lexus GS 430s are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 2002 Lexus GS 430s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Lexus GS 430 for sale - 9 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $8,119.

Find a used Lexus for sale - 6 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $12,262.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus GS 430 for sale - 10 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $12,826.

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 Lexus GS 430?

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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Check out Lexus GS 430 lease specials