2009 GS 350 New Car Test Drive
The Lexus GS is meant to be dynamic, yet free of gimmicks. It is meant to combine precision with lavish, luxurious appointments. It is meant to deliver a high standard of automotive performance, yet be 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.
Three models are available. The GS 350 features a 303-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic with manual shift gate. All-wheel drive is available. We found the GS 350 thoroughly enjoyable to drive. The V6 is quite responsive, propelling the GS 350 from 0 to 60 mph in an impressive 5.7 seconds and gets an EPA-estimated 19/26 mpg.
There's also a hybrid: The GS 450h combines the 3.5-liter V6 with two electric motors for improved power and fuel economy. The GS 450h hybrid is actually the quickest of the GS sedans, getting from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Fuel economy for the GS 450h is rated 22/25 mpg City/Highway on the government's EPA cycle.
The 4.6-liter V8 makes 342 horsepower and comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. For added performance, the eight-speed transmission includes a Sport mode that enables you to manually make sequential shifts with the console-mounted gear lever. The GS 460 is the fastest of the models, with a top speed of 149 mph and 0-60 in 5.4 seconds.
The all-wheel-drive GS 350 AWD features 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 third-generation Lexus GS came to market for 2006, a showcase of Toyota'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. Refinements followed for 2007; and then a much-improved V8 engine arrived for 2008. 2008 models benefited from a new front fascia and chrome grille surround, new side-mirror turn signals, a revised instrument panel, and other appearance tweaks inside and out. There are no significant changes for 2009.
The 2009 Lexus GS sedan is available in four models. The GS 350 ($44,850) sports a 303-hp 3.5-liter V6. The GS 350 AWD ($46,800) adds all-wheel drive to the package. Both GS 350 models have a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shiftgate.
The GS 460 ($53,320) has a 342-hp V8 and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The GS 450h ($56,400) features a hybrid powertrain that combines the 3.5-liter V6 with two electric motors. It has a continuously variable automatic transmission with six preset gear ratios for the manual shiftgate.
Standard equipment on the GS 350 includes thick, regency-style leather upholstery and color-coordinated wood trim (golden or gray bird's-eye maple, or red walnut); dual-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; power tilt/telescoping wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; heated 10-way power-adjustable front seats; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel; trunk pass-through; heated auto-dimming power exterior mirrors with tilt-down back-up aid; power windows; power locks; SmartAccess keyless access and starting; sunroof; remote engine starting; 10-speaker AM/FM/cassette stereo with six-disc CD changer; auxiliary audio input jack; vehicle information system with a seven-inch touch screen; Bluetooth wireless cell phone link; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; power trunk closer; automatic HID headlights; theft-deterrent system; fog lights. The GS 350 comes with P225/50WR17 summer tires on alloy wheels; the GS 350 AWD has P225/50R17 all-season run-flat tires.
The GS 460 adds heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive headlights, an adaptive variable suspension with sport and normal modes, a faster (and variable) steering ratio, bigger front brakes, and P245/40ZR18 summer tires.
The GS450h gets front and rear park assist, rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, power rear sunshade, and headlight washers. It loses the trunk pass-through, but share's the V8 models P245/40ZR18 summer tires.
Options include a navigation system with voice recognition ($1,850) which includes a rear backup camera; front and rear park assist ($500); Mark Levinson 330-watt audio system with 7.1 surround sound, DVD Audio playback, and integrated navigation and backup camera ($3,630); active vehicle stabilizer system for 460 ($3,000) or 450h ($3,320); adaptive variable suspension ($620); pre-collision braking system with radar-type cruise control ($2,850); Lexus Link road assistance ($900); rain-sensing wipers with headlight washers; power rear sunshade ($210); ventilated front seats ($200); all-season run-flat tires; and a rear spoiler ($200).
Safety features that come standard include dual front air bags, front and rear side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, curtain-type head-protection air bags both front and rear, and a tire-pressure monitor. Front and rear park assist and a rearview camera are standard on the GS 450h and optional on the other models. Active safety features that come standard include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, traction control, and electronic stability control (ESC). The GS 460 comes with Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, an ESC 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 ESC 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. 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.