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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Lexus GS 430 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Lexus GS 430 Overview

The Inaudible Sound of Power

When you think V8, you think power; you probably also think of a roaring, gas-thirsty monster that is better suited to the realm of the full-size truck than that of a posh luxury car. But there is one V8 that can deliver all the power and low-end torque expected of it yet only the faintest purr whispers of its presence beneath the hood. The engine is Lexus' brilliant 4.3-liter V8 and the car we are talking about is none other than the incomparable GS 430.

The GS 430 shares the same engine and transmission as the top-of-the-line LS 430; this fact alone makes the car a highly desirable purchase, especially since there is about an eight grand difference in the starting price. The GS 430 also has a bit more youthfulness about it than the lofty LS, and it certainly can move more quickly on its feet. With all the agility of a well-focused track star, the GS 430 will thrill you with its ability to cut corners, charge up hills and stop on a dime.

A quick peek underneath reveals what is at the heart of the GS 430's thrill-like ride: a multi-link rear suspension coupled to a rear-wheel-drive layout. Ask any enthusiast which he prefers and you'll hear rear drive over front drive every time. Front-drive cars benefit from having the engine's weight over the drive wheels, thus increasing traction in foul weather. But this same layout is usually a hindrance to high-performance cars because the wheels used for steering are also pulling the car; at some point, there is an inevitable conflict between the two tasks with the end result being severe plowing (also known as understeer).

Lexus has overcome much of the shortcomings common to rear-drive cars by outfitting the GS 430 with a highly sophisticated rear suspension, adding a limited slip rear differential and topping the whole works off with a host of electronic traction and stability programs. The result is a full-size sedan that handles, corners and brakes like a much lighter, less sizable vehicle. Push the GS 430 into a turn and instead of lean or roll, you feel only G forces pressing you into the sides of the well-bolstered leather seats. You'll find yourself grateful for the thickly-padded leather-wrapped steering wheel that affords you not only a means to pilot the GS 430 but an anchor point to rest your vice-like grip as you snake the GS through hairpin turns.

As you leave that final turn, the GS' suspension hands off its adrenaline-rush responsibilities to the engine and transmission like a relay racer passing the final baton; at the first hint of a straightaway, you'll nail the accelerator to the floor and experience the rush of a sub-six second 0 to 60 run that will rob the air from your lungs and the blood from your legs. Fast is too slow an adjective to adequately describe the GS 430's acceleration capabilities.

Perhaps the most unusual thing about the GS 430's performance is how silently it executes each operation. Inside the cabin, there is little evidence of gear whine or exhaust rush, only the harmonic sounds of finally oiled machinery somewhere in the distance. The optional Mark Levinson sound system will obliterate any remaining unwanted sounds, including those that may be emanating from the passenger seat.

When you slip into the supple yet supportive seats, your eyes will behold a dazzling light show that is the GS 430's dash. Lighting seems to play an integral role in establishing the Lexus ambiance, contrasting the bright fluorescent blue instrument gauges against the lesser pinpoint lights that softly illuminate the foot wells, door handles and switchgear. You'll want for little in the GS 430 as almost every luxury feature is standard and those not immediately visible can surely be found on the GS 430's extensive options list. Such basic necessities as one touch up/down power windows, automatic climate control, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, power seats with memory and lumbar feature are a given in this class, as are the front side and side head curtain airbags. But to have HID headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an onboard trip computer, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels shows Lexus' commitment to sustaining the image of a true performance luxury car.

For the record, you can opt to equip your GS with a power glass moonroof, GPS guided navigation system, Euro tuned suspension, climate-controlled front seats and a rear parking assist that chimes to warn you of objects directly behind the vehicle. New for 2003 are a series of packages, including the ultimate in accessory add-ons, the Ultra package. Check off this box and you'll add $12K to the price of your GS 430; you'll also add power-assisted door closers, laser guided adaptive cruise control, a power rear sunshade, power headlamp washers, power rear seat adjusters with memory and massage feature, rear-side glass sunshades and a rear air conditioner with individual controls.

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