Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 Lexus GS 300 Overview
Still Shaking Up the European Sport Sedan Market
The current GS 300 has been around for a few years now and is probably due for an upgrade soon. That's not to say it really needs one, because when you do something rightand we mean really rightit tends to stand the test of time well. That certainly is the case with the Lexus GS 300, a moderately priced sport sedan whose shape, style and performance continue to be among the best in its class. Perhaps it's the GS 300's pleasing shapeonce considered rather radicalthat makes it so attractive. There is a confidence in the design, a subtle blending of the athletic with the business professional that allows the GS 300 to satisfy so many different personality types.
As a mid-priced luxury touring sedan, the GS 300 has many points in its favor, beginning with its rear-wheel drive layout. Long the hallmark of great performance cars, rear-wheel drive vehicles generally corner better than front-wheel drive vehicles because the front wheels are not burdened with the task of pulling the car as well as steering it. The GS 300's independent rear suspension allows each wheel to move up and down independently of the other, thus helping to improve traction and ride control, long the Achilles heel of rear-drive cars. In addition to the standard traction control, Lexus also includes its VSC (Vehicle Skid Control) that monitors the front and rear wheels, applying more torque or activating the brakes when it detects the car is moving beyond the control of the driver. We experienced the system a few times when our GS 300's playful nature tempted us to push the car hard; the system reacts quickly but is not overly aggressive, giving you time to make corrections on your own before it intervenes.
The ride and handling of the GS 300 seems as if they should be at odds with one another. In the sport sedan realm, you get either a cushy soft ride with so-so handling, or a really fantastic chassis with ride so harsh it rattles your bones. But in the GS 300, there is no compromise between comfort and control. You'll find that on highways and city streets, you get a supple, controlled ride that nicely dampens any sudden jolts or dips. Yet this same suspension can turn an ordinary twisting back road into a thrilling day of driving that will entice you to find the longest route home. The big body does take some time to get used to in turns, primarily because the response from the steering wheel is so quick and precise, your senses begin telling you that this is a much smaller car. Only a quick glance in the rear view serves as a reminder that there is whole lot of sheet metal following behind. Lexus is proud of pointing out that on many rival sedans, you have to order an optional sport package to achieve the kind of handling the GS 300 has engineered into it from the start, and it's a claim not without merit.
Powering the GS 300 through all this fun is an inline six-cylinder engine that produces a cool 220- horsepower. The GS 300's power is evident from the moment you touch the accelerator as the car rockets to speed without so much a hint of a gear change from the fabulously transparent 5-speed automatic. Lexus has added a set of steering-wheel mounted shift buttons that allow you to become more engaged with the driving experience, shifting up or down by simply using your thumbs to select gears.
If all this sounds as though the GS 300 is only for those who enjoy performance driving, let us quickly dispel that myth; the interior and amenities found in the GS 300 are every bit as impressive as those found in the top-of-the-line LS 430. Optional leather covers the seat faces, door panels, steering wheel and shift lever while standard California walnut wood trim adorns the center console, dash and doors. You sit nestled in the GS 300's cockpit-like interior, comforted by the soft glow of the car's tantalizing aqua-blue fluorescent instrument lighting; the clever system will automatically adjust its own brightness depending on ambient lighting. You'll find your body to be fully supported by the tall bucket seats (they even feature power lumbar support) and your ears treated to the audiophile quality music emitted from the available Mark Levinson audio system. You'll never be too hot or too cold in your GS 300 thanks to the elegantly simple automatic dual-zone climate controls; a standard power moonroof offers you another alternative for cooling down. The overall feeling inside the GS 300 is one of harmony, balance and tranquility, a feature rarely found in a car that can perform as well as this one.