The Lexus GS is a series of mid-size luxury sports sedans / executive cars sold by Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota. The first GS, based on the platform and running gear of the Toyota Crown, was introduced in 1993 in the United States, Europe and selected markets in Asia. The second generation model premiered in 1998, using a new platform and adding a V8 version for the first time outside Japan. The current third generation GS, which premiered globally for the 2006 model year, comes in both V6, V8, and hybrid versions (GS 450h performance hybrid).
The GS was designed to fill the gap between the ES and LS and to provide Lexus with a sports sedan which could compete with the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. In Japan, the GS was sold as the equivalent Toyota Aristo, which debuted in 1991 and was sold until the introduction of the Lexus marque there in 2005. Following the debut of the third generation GS, the Toyota Aristo was discontinued. Though essentially identical, GS and the Aristo differed in their engine and transmission combinations as well as equipment packages.
With a body styled by the famous Italdesign Giugiaro firm, the Aristo was launched in October 1991, offering two inline-6 powered versions for the Japanese market: the 3.0Q and 3.0V. The 3.0Q Aristo featured a 2JZ-GE engine which produced 226 hp (169 kW). The 3.0V Aristo was equipped with a 24-valve twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE engine which produced 276 hp (205 kW). This twin-turbo engine was the same as could be found in the Toyota Supra Mk IV (JZA80). In 1992, a third model, the V8-powered 4.0Zi-Four (codename UZS143), joined the Aristo lineup. This model came with standard four-wheel drive and a 250 hp (186 kW) 1UZ-FE engine. This V8 had also been used in the first generation Lexus LS and the Toyota Crown Majesta. The Aristo/GS models were equipped with an independent, double-wishbone suspension setup. The only engine available for the export markets was the 2JZ-GE inline-6.
Production of the Lexus GS 300 (JZS147) began on February 22, 1993 at the Tahara, Japan assembly plant. At the time, the GS represented the latest advancement of Tahara production technology, with only eight spot welds performed by hand. The rest, some 4,200 welds, were performed by robots. Italdesign Giugiaro's exterior styling blended elements of the original LS flagship and SC performance coupe in a rounded, aerodynamic shape, complementing the rest of the Lexus lineup. For the interior, the GS 300 featured walnut wood trim on the center console, leather seating, and the option of a Nakamichi premium stereo system. A moonroof, remote 12-CD auto changer, and traction control (TRAC) were options. In 1996, the four-speed automatic transmission was replaced with a five-speed automatic.
The GS was intended to take the price position of the original LS 400 flagship, which had moved upmarket since its 1989 launch. As Lexus' first rear-wheel drive sports sedan, the GS exceeded the front-wheel drive ES luxury sedan in power and available amenities. However, sales of the GS 300 were modest, with 1993 seeing the greatest sales at 19,164 sold that year. Sales dropped in later years as the Japanese yen rose in value against the dollar and made the vehicle more expensive than its rivals. Additionally, more powerful V8 sport sedans provided stiff competition. The GS 300 carried an initial manufacturer's suggested U.S. base price of $37,930 at its debut; by 1997, the price had risen to $46,195.
In 1998, the second generation Aristo was launched in Japan, codenamed JZS160 for models with the 2JZ-GE engines and JZS161 for those with the 2JZ-GTE twin-turbo engines. VVT-i was now standard, resulting in a bump in torque. The twin-turbo version was available with electronic four-wheel steering, VDC and an automatic gearbox with a manual sequential mode. No four-wheel drive models were offered. The new model's styling was produced in-house, and featured quadruple headlights in a fashion similar to the Lexus SC coupe. Inside, electroluminiscent Lexus Optitron gauges were offered for the first time, along with an upgraded stereo system.
The GS began production in the JZS161 body style on August 4, 1997 and was officially launched in 1998. Answering customer requests for more power, the American market GS 400 was equipped with a UZ-series V8 that produced 300 hp (224 kW) and of torque. Edmunds.com reported a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds for the 3693-pound sedan. The GS 300 was also offered once again and featured a slightly revised version of the last generation's 3.0 L inline-6 now producing 228 hp (168 kW) and 225 ft·lbf(305 N·m) of torque. The GS 300 was quoted with a 7.6 second 0-60 time by Edmonds. Both models featured a 5-speed automatic with the GS 400 receiving steering wheel shift buttons. Again, no turbo models were offered outside Japan. The 0-60 time of the GS 400 prompted Lexus to claim that the GS was the world's fastest production sedan.
Lexus promoted the arrival of the second generation GS sedan with the tagline, "Something Wicked This Way Comes." Compared to its predecessor, the second generation GS sedan was a much bigger success, with sales reaching 30,622 vehicles in its first year, increasing in the second, and stabilizing at 28,079 vehicles by 2000. The U.S. base price for the GS 300 and GS 430 averaged approximately $38,000 and $47,000 respectively. The success of the GS sedan prompted Lexus to keep the vehicle in its lineup for over eight years.
The 2001 model cycle was the only year with any major changes in the second generation GS. New clear tail lights with turn signal indicators were added to the trunk area, as well as a slightly revised grill and very subtly tinted headlights on the front end. Xenon high-intensity discharge headlights were now standard on the V8 and optional on the I6. Inside, more wood trim was added, and steering wheel shift buttons were now also featured on the GS 300. In 2001, the V8 engine received a 0.3 liter bump in displacement and the model was renamed GS 430. Peak horsepower was unchanged, but torque increased to .
The third generation GS was first introduced as a 2006 model at the 2005 North American International Auto Show. The initial model lineup included the GS 300 (GRS190), with a 3.0 L V6 3GR-FSE engine, and the GS 430 (UZS190), with the same 4.3 L V8 used in the previous model. The GS 300 featured a direct-injection engine for all markets except for Continental Asia, excluding Singapore. The 3.0 L engine was also found in the Toyota Mark X as well as the Zero Toyota Crown. An all-wheel drive option was made available in the GS 300, thus becoming the first Lexus sedan to offer an all-wheel drive configuration. Production of the third generation began on January 24, 2005. The equivalent Aristo was not released as Toyota sought to align all world markets, including Japan, using Lexus as their luxury brand worldwide.
The third generation GS is the introductory Lexus model for the marque's new L-finesse design philosophy. Characterized by swooping lines, a fastback profile, and more muscular styling, the GS indicates the future direction of the Lexus lineup. The slingshot cabin on the GS was first previewed on the earlier Lexus LF-S concept. The GS sedans also were the first to feature the latest generation of Lexus' SmartAccess keyless system–-adding a push-button start for the first time. Other unique features include a driver-side hidden panel for infrequently used controls, a standard touchscreen display in the center console, LED lighting in the cabin, and Bluetooth technology. A Mark Levinson premium sound system is optional. Unique to the Lexus GS series, each vehicle features an electrochromic instrument cluster which adjusts for the amount of reflected sunlight.
The GS 350 (GRS191), using the 3.5 L 2GR-FSE engine, replaced the GS 300 for the 2007 model year. Due to a change in SAE testing procedures, the 2007 GS rating was changed to 290 (with . of torque), while the V6-powered GS 350 was rated at 303 hp (with . of torque). Lexus reports 0-60 times of 5.7 seconds for both vehicles. A 4.6 L GS 460 (URS191) replaced the GS 430 for the 2008 model year. Equipped with a new 4.6 L 1UR-FE engine generating 342 hp (with . of torque), the GS 460 also added an 8-speed automatic transmission. Lexus reports a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds for the GS 460.
Coinciding with the introduction of the GS 460, the GS lineup received an exterior refresh, including a revised front bumper, headlights and grille, turn signals added to the side mirrors, and new wheel options and exterior colors. Inside the vehicle, the GS received a redesigned steering wheel, revised instrument cluster gauges, and different trim pieces. Along with the hybrid GS 450h and previous GS 430 models, the V8-powered GS 460 offers the Active Stabilizer Suspension System for improved handling. Also, for 2008, the V6-powered GS350 now offers VDIM (Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management), which was previously offered only on V8 and hybrid models. AVS (Adaptive Variable Suspension) is now an option on the V6 model as well.
In 2007, Consumer Reports dropped Lexus from 1st to 5th in their predicted reliability survey. The magazine blamed the 2006 first-year GS in the all-wheel-drive form, which had problems in integrity, body hardware and sound system, as the sole reason for the slip. Despite the reliability issues among 2006 GS models, the vehicle earned a "Recommended" rating from Consumer Reports for vehicle features and overall value for that year. However, the problems have apparently been solved, and the GS AWD is now "average".
In the U.S., the GS 350 begins at $44,150, while the GS 460 retails at $52,620.
The GS 450h weighs 1875 kg (4134 lb), but the combined hybrid powertrain produces 339 hp (253 kW), allowing the GS to accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.2 seconds , compared to the GS 460's 5.4 seconds. EPA-rated highway fuel economy is 25 mpg (8.4 l/100 km), while the city fuel economy is rated at 22 mpg, which is slightly unusual for hybrid vehicles of this type (as they normally have higher city fuel economy ratings) This does, however, make sense because the regular GS suffers from particularly poor city fuel economy.
75 "Neiman Marcus Edition" GS 450h sedans were offered as the annual holiday catalog car at a price of $65,000. All were sold in less than three hours on October 19, 2005 and were delivered around April 2006. The GS 450h went on sale in Japan on March 16, 2006.
Motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson, a famous critic of hybrid vehicles and the Toyota Prius especially, admitted he loved the GS 450h. After claiming that you spent most of the time on the Prius "chewing a lot of fuel" and "making a green statement," he described "with the Lexus I drove up and down Piccadilly all day. It was great." He also felt that the GS 450h was "balanced nicely by the styling, the quality and the sense that you really are in something a little bit different." Clarkson also positively referred to the benefit of a hybrid car being exempt from the London congestion charge (for a £10 one off administration fee to register it).
The Lexus is now being used by the Wiltshire Police Constablary in England as an unmarked police car.