2008 GS 450h New Car Test Drive
The 2007 Lexus GS makes its mark with sense as well as speed, restraint as well as luxury. Although it's easy to think of it as an alternative to Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the Lexus GS embraces an entirely different set of values.
Lexus itself has promoted the phrase 'L-finesse' to define its way of crafting an automobile, and this faintly awkward example of market-speak in fact gets right to the heart of the 2007 Lexus GS. This high-performance sedan is meant to be dynamic, yet free of gimmicks. It is meant to combine precision with lavish, luxurious appointments. It is meant to deliver the highest standard of automotive performance, yet be easily intuitive to drive. Amazing examples of automotive technology are included as standard equipment, yet the driver is never aware of them.
The Lexus GS does everything you ask, and yet it always feels effortless. If you think of the character of a BMW 5 Series sedan, the Lexus GS is its opposite.
The third-generation Lexus GS came to market for 2006 as the first completely new passenger car from Toyota's luxury division since 2001, a showcase of the giant company's most advanced technology. It arrived with more computing power than some third-world countries and a standard of luxury usually enjoyed only in the best zip codes. And yet, surprisingly enough, the Lexus GS has been substantially improved for 2007.
New for 2007, the lineup is joined by the GS 450h, which features a hybrid powertrain that combines a gasoline-powered V6 engine with a battery-powered electric motor to deliver an overall output of 340 horsepower combined with fuel economy of 25 mpg City/28 mpg Highway on the EPA cycle.
The 2007 GS 430's 290-hp 4.3-liter V8 continues as before, but its high-technology, rear-wheel-drive chassis has been improved with an optional system of active anti-roll body control.
For 2007, the GS 350 has a new, more powerful 3.5-liter V6 that brings alert performance to this model, which comes in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. (The 2006 model offered 245 horsepower from 3.0-liter V6.) The GS 350 and GS 430 utilize a close-ratio six-speed automatic transmission, one of the smallest and lightest gearboxes of its type. For added performance, the transmission includes a sport mode that enables you to manually make sequential shifts with the console-mounted gear lever.
The all-wheel-drive models feature a fast-acting, clutch-type center differential that sends 70 percent of the power to the rear wheels under normal circumstances to help foster the dynamics of a rear-wheel-drive car. When wheel sensors detect slippery road conditions, as much as 50 percent of engine power is diverted to the front wheels to increase the car's overall traction on the road.
The 2007 Lexus GS sedan is available in three models. The GS 350 ($44,150) sports the new 303-hp 3.5 V6. The GS 350 AWD ($46,100) adds all-wheel drive to the package. The GS 430 ($52,375) has a smooth-running 290-hp 4.3-liter V8.
The GS 450h ($54,900) features a hybrid powertrain that combines a 3.5-liter V6 with an electric motor.
Standard equipment includes thick, regency-style leather upholstery and a choice of wood trim in either bird's-eye maple (brown or black) or walnut, and a complete range of convenience features. These include a sophisticated audio system with an in-dash CD player, a vehicle information system with a seven-inch touch screen, Bluetooth-compatible wireless telephone technology, and a moonroof.
Options include a navigation system with voice recognition and backup camera ($1900); Mark Levinson 330-watt audio system with surround sound ($1780); active vehicle stabilizer system ($3400); pre-collision braking system with radar-type cruise control ($2850); park assist ($500), Lexus Link road assistance ($900); rain-sensing wiper and adaptive headlights ($525); power rear sunshade ($210); ventilated front seats ($200); all-season run-flat tires ($480).
Safety features that come standard on all models include front air bags, side airbags for front- and rear-seat passengers (except the GS 450h, which lacks rear-seat side airbags), and curtain-type head-protection air bags both and front and rear.
Active safety features include anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, and Brake Assist. The available Lexus pre-collision system uses a radar sensor to detect the onset of a collision and will automatically optimize chassis calibration for quick steering response, retract the front seatbelts, initialize brake assist and even decelerate the car at 0.3 g if the driver fails to take avoiding action. The GS 450h and GS 430 come with Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, an electronic stability control system that processes steering angle, yaw rate, deceleration, brake pressure and wheel speed, and then uses the car's entire range of electronic controls for the engine, brake, and steering controls to help the driver control the car in an emergency handling situation. In contrast to conventional electronic stability control systems, which react to a car's loss of control, VDIM has been developed to anticipate a dangerous situation, and then by making certain corrections, allow the driver to continue without even realizing the system is at work.
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