By on October 21, 2009

gs350

Lexus should include a PlayStation 3 with every GS350 they sell the public, so the new owners can take their new vehicle for a spin around the Nurburgring in “Gran Turismo.” That way they’d be able to safely enjoy their new Lexus and not waste a single penny in gas. Either way, the driving experience wouldn’t change much.

The GS350 makes a nice first impression styling-wise – smooth, handsome, surprisingly sleek, and nicely detailed. Gaze at the GS350 in profile, at a low angle, and  it looks long, low and purposeful, like a futuristic car from the 1980’s Japanese animated film Akira. Like the original Lexuses (or is it Lexi?), this car will never really look out of date. And it’s more than just design; the engineers and assembly workers perfected their craft exquisitely. Body panel gaps are small enough to nearly disappear in dim light, and the paint job looks as close to grand piano-glossy as anything this side of a Rolls Royce.

Phone home?Inside things are conservatively handsome, in the vein of a Nokia phone design. The GS350 greets the driver with a clean dash, and a detailed instrument panel with watch-face texturing. In typical Lexus fashion, the center stack pops out more convex plastic than a box of bubble-wrap. And yet, like the bubble-wrap, you can’t keep your hands off the things. One ergonomic curiosity: some secondary controls, like the power mirrors, instrument panel dimmer, and stability control shutoff, are housed in a fold-away compartment to the driver’s left. This gives the dash a less cluttered appearance, but it feels like an unnecessary gimmick in an otherwise straightforward dashboard. Perhaps Toyota has a single errant Citroen spy in their midst….

Lexus upgraded the GS350’s 3.5 liter V-6 to 303 horsepower for 2009, and it’s  worthy improvement over the previous powerplant, which loved to rev, but didn’t produce a whole lot of power. The updated mill is smooth and powerful, but perhaps a bit too slick for its own good. Drivers looking for proof that luxury doesn’t mean soullessness should look elsewhere. If they weren’t already.
The slick-shifting six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission – probably the best overall in this test – always has the right cog ready, and it allows the high-revving V-6 to sing soprano. Peak torque is at 3600 rpm, so the GS350 doesn’t blast off the line like the BMW does, but if you keep your foot in it, there’s considerable performance potential here. Lexus estimates a very credible 5.8 second dash to 60, but sadly the soundtrack is as boogie-motivating as a Philip Glass opera.

gs350rear
Luckily (or not), the Lexus wasn’t in the mood to dance anyway. Hit the twisties, and the GS350’s main weakness becomes clear: lack of communication between machine and driver. Things feel so remote and disengaged at the helm, as to make one wonder when a Playstation controller will finally be offered as a factory option. Folks who see driving as a chore might enjoy the overboosted ease around town, but the old adage, “BMW engineers take the autobahn to work, and Toyota engineers take the subway” will ring unfortunately true for enthusiasts.
The dynamic news front doesn’t proclaim DrudgeReport level despair though – the GS350’s refined chassis provides reasonable responsiveness, and the ride / handling tradeoff feels solid. The car hums down the Interstate raising no more than a whisper, and the isolation-chamber experience helps makes rush hour a far more tolerable experience than it should be. If you have stress issues, consider the GS as your road-going psychotherapist.
The GS’ reason-over-lust nature extends to pricing – the test car, with navigation, a splendid Mark Levinson sound system, ventilated seats, and all-wheel-drive, came in at a very reasonable $52,185. The traditional Lexus virtues – long-term durability, resale value, quality, and top-notch dealer service – will keep the GS’ driver happy and satisfied for a long time, as long as felonious driving isn’t on their menu.
But high-speed Baruthian episodes on our nation’s highways simply aren’t in the Lexus’s sensible-luxury oeuvre. What this means is that there are many good reasons a rational, logical, and ultimately boring person can choose from to justify settling for the Lexus. Maybe they drove the Lexus first, and decided, “hey, this will do.” Maybe their definition of luxury is met by sepulchral silence alone. Or maybe they’re  upgrading from a Camry. In any case you can’t blame them… but you can do better.
Performance: 4/5
The upgraded engine is smooth, powerful, and easy on the ears, with a smart, slick autobox, but you have to keep your right foot planted to keep the power coming
Ride 5/5
Here’s the payoff for all that isolation and refinement – your very own road-going Fortress of Solutide


Handling: 1/5

And here’s the downside for all that isolation and refinement – a driving simulator for the road
Exterior: 3/5
Nothing exciting, but this look will wear well over time
Interior: 4/5
Somewhat cramped, but stylish and beautifully made
Fit and Finish: 5/5
Inside and out, the GS is flawless and heirloom-quality
Toys: 4/5
The off-the-wall stuff – heads up displays, lane departure warning systems, night vision, and the like – isn’t on the menu here, but the all expected goodies are, and the price is very reasonable
Desirability: 2/5
The GS350 might be a gotta-have for “Consumer Reports Is My Good Book” types, but those of with gasoline in our veins should look elsewhere

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68 Comments on “Import Sport Sedan Comparison: Fourth Place: Lexus GS350...”


  • avatar
    drifter

    Lexus should include a PlayStation 3 with every GS350 they sell the public

    Audi should include a mechanic and a diagnostic computer with each A6 they sell.

  • avatar
    slateslate

    let me guess and try end the suspense about the winner, lol.

    BMW 5-series wins, TTAC says:

    although it’s approaching the end of its design cycle its classic “insert driving dynamics comments” overcomes its “insert Bangle-ized shortcoming.” In a field of new entries, BMW offers a mix of “insert praise” unmatched by its peers. Once again BMW delivers something-something-something. So although BMW’s reputation occasionally gets tarnishised by douchy fanboys, go ahead and indulge yourself.

    I love the 5-series but I was expecting a little more irreverence and unpredictability from TTAC. (Another reason why it wouldn’t have hurt to at least throw in the Genesis into the mix.)

  • avatar
    MrDot

    You never know. The Audi could win.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    Lexuses (or is it Lexi?)

    The Latin plural of Lexus would almost certainly be Lexūs. (Long u, like Lex-oos.) The plural of luxus (1: Excess, extravagance in eating and drinking, luxury, debauchery, 2: Splendor, pomp, magnificence, state) is luxūs, for example.

    Nouns ending in -xus are almost all fourth declension, as least according to the Perseus Project and Lewis and Short. Especially those ending in -exus.

    amplexus , ūs, m.
    annexus (adn- ), ūs, m.
    circumflexus , ūs, m.
    circumplexus , ūs, m.
    complexus (con- ), ūs, m.
    cōnexus (conn- ), ūs, m.
    convexus , ūs, m.
    dēflexus , ūs, m.
    dēfluxus , ūs, m.
    ēnixus , ūs, m.
    flexus , ūs, m.
    fluxus , ūs, m.
    implexus , ūs, m.
    inflexus , ūs, m.
    influxus , ūs, m.
    luxus , ūs, m.
    nexus , ūs, m.
    nixus , ūs, m.
    obnexus , ūs, m.
    oppexus (obp- ), ūs, m.
    rĕflexus , ūs, m.
    sexus , ūs, m.

    The only exception I can find is, paradoxically, paradoxus (paradoxi), and two trees, taxus (taxi), meaning yew tree, and buxus (buxi), meaning box-wood tree, that have forms like a masculine noun but are feminine.

    So Lexuses is fine for English, Japanese, with rare exceptions doesn’t do plurals, and the Latin plural would be Lexūs.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I might actually prefer the Lucerne Super over this car.

    And, I definitely think I’d take the M35 (RWD) over it.

  • avatar
    veefiddy

    Why are you dissing the SIXAXIS? (CAPS ™ Sony) I feel completely connected to my Lotus when I spin out in the hairpin at Suzuka.

  • avatar

    I’m currently driving a 2000 Lexus GS 400.

    The handling is meh aside from the usual benefits of RWD. If I drove it more often I’d fit an aftermarket suspension.

    But the powertrain is awesome, and I’ve never had so much confidence in the reliability of a ten-year-old car with 110,000 miles on it.

    In the last two years I’ve had to replace a brake caliper. That’s it.

    That said, the current GS feels tighter in the rear seat, less comfortable in the front seat, and generally doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be when it grows up. Toyota doesn’t really know what they’re doing with this car.

    I drove the GS 300 and GS 430 back in 2006. At the time, only the V8 had electric power steering. The V6 had conventional power steering that was downright chatty in comparison, and as a result of this and a more soulful engine both my father and I preferred driving the 300 despite the power deficit. I now see that EPS is now on the V6 as well. Bad move, Lexus.

    Insufficient participants for the GS in our Car Reliability Survey. Not a surprise–they haven’t sold well.

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    And then there were three…..(Great Genesis album, that was!…..maybe subconsciously I thought of that because the Genesis should be in this comparo? Maybe not…but I digress…..)

    So that leaves the Audi, der Beemer and the Jag left in this competition.

    Never driven the Jag, but can’t seriously imagine it beating out, well, ANY of the other 5.

    Between the Audi and the 5 series…..I just found the beemer so….I don’t know…..uber! I like the A6 so much I bought one, but the beemer is better. (hate to admit it.)

    Beemer uber alles….

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    Paradox is not a latin word, it is from the Greek Para-doxon (contrary to doctrine, is a loose translation). The plural in Greek is ParadoxA.

    This out of the way, I am not surprised at all with the ranking of this lame “almost sports luxury sedan”, and I find myself agreeing with every one of its rankings and discussion above.

    When I was considering buying my bargain-basement “Magnificent 7″ I talked to several friends that I considered at least as auto literate as myself. One of them, who grew up with 70s mercedeses, adviced me to get a LExus, and when I had my reservations about their lack of proper handling etc he suggested the GS Lexuses. But I like the LS far better as far as styling and interior. And anyway, one had to pay a big premium for used LSs, largely due to their reliability, I guess.

  • avatar
    YZS

    The thing with Lexus is that you’ll never see a late model on the side of the road with its hood open. I’ve seen way too many Germans in that sad state, shiny paint and all. If I were to pay 50 large or more for a car and it poops out at 50k miles, even if it’s a minor issue, quick trip to the shop type deal, I’d still be completely pissed.

    Yes, it’s a generalization, and some cars do better than others, but when a 17k Corolla can do better, there is no excuse from a 50kmobile.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    That pull-out pod left of the steering column (right where it will bang shins if inadvertantly left open) is indeed a weird choice.

    Otherwise looks, feels and drives like every other Lexus before it, save the original IS300 and IS-F.

    Our neighbor likes her LS460L, despite its inflated air-suspension DEFLATING and leaving her stranded 3 times in the first 12 months they owned it….

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    The GS’ reason-over-lust nature extends to pricing – the test car, with navigation, a splendid Mark Levinson sound system, ventilated seats, and all-wheel-drive, came in at a very reasonable $52,185

    No offense to you my friend, but since when has $52K (before dealer markups and taxes) for a over-blown Toyota Camry been reasonable?

    re: johnthacker

    Could one also make the argument for Lexus’ as a plural?

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    ” Michael Karesh :
    October 21st, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I’m currently driving a 2000 Lexus GS 400.

    The handling is meh aside from the usual benefits of RWD. If I drove it more often I’d fit an aftermarket suspension.

    But the powertrain is awesome, and I’ve never had so much confidence in the reliability of a ten-year-old car with 110,000 miles on it.”

    When I bought my 98 740iL in Oct 05, for about 1/10th of what a new one costs now (!!) it had already 113 k miles, and I did not bother taking it to a mechanic first.

    Now here is a TRULY “awesome” poewertain, complete with a turbine-like Roar. AND bulletproof reliable as well, both drivetrain and the excellent 5-sp auto.

    I took a risk when I bought the 7, given Consumer Report’s recommendation to avoid the car due to its alleged below average reliability.

    But I bought the car without bothering to check it since the owner drove it 120 miles a day commuting and he would be a damned fool not to keep it in top shape and risk losing his job fro repatedly showing up late or not at all. And he did all maintenance at the dealers, where I got a full printout life history over 3 owners, I believe. And the service people at my local BMW dealer told me the 7 series are ‘solid” cars.

    I took the risk, because what was my downside? Even if the car broke down and was a total loss, what did I lose? One Third to one half of a new 7′s depreciation in its FIRST year alone!!

  • avatar
    jmo

    for a over-blown Toyota Camry been reasonable

    It’s a GS not an ES.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Autosavant,

    I took a risk when I bought the 7, given Consumer Report’s recommendation to avoid the car due to its alleged below average reliability.

    You being lucky doesn’t change the facts about anything. Just because your great uncle smoked two packs a day and died at 95 doesn’t change the fact that smoking causes cancer.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    dolorean23 obviously you haven’t driven GS and/or Camry. Totally different cars.

    And the truth is that 90% of Luxury car owners don’t have gasoline in their veins (although German brands try to convince people otherwise) so GS seems like perfect choice for the most. It maybe hard to belive for the folks who actively participate in automotive forums like this, but in reality most of the $50K+ car owners rarely even glance at car magazines.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    A real world comparison for the types of folks that buy these cars:
    1. How good do I look in it?
    2. Is it better than my neighbor’s and coworker’s car?
    3. Will it break a lot?
    4. How’s the resale value?

    I would say that the Jag, Audi, and BMW are going to break a lot more and depreciate faster than this beautiful Lexus. It also looks sharp and ages well.

    I would say that driving dynamics play almost no part in the decision process, although the guys in auto trans BMWs swear that it’s the reason they bought their cars.

  • avatar
    CobaltFire

    I do wonder about this comparison.

    How many people honestly prioritize the AWD models? Prioritizing those over the more mainstream models seems counter-intuitive to me. The M35x is rare enough that I have not seen one, and the review admits that the car would probably have placed better with the RWD 7A vs the AWD 5A transmission. Also, the AWD models typically have worse rides and handling (brand aside), particularly steering.

    In all, it seems weighted towards competing on Audi’s terms, rather than the consumer’s.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “Author: jmo
    Comment:
    Autosavant,

    I took a risk when I bought the 7, given Consumer Report’s recommendation to avoid the car due to its alleged below average reliability.

    You being lucky doesn’t change the facts about anything. Just because your great uncle smoked two packs a day and died at 95 doesn’t change the fact that smoking causes cancer.”

    You seem to take owner-reported surveys such as CR and many much worse than CR as math-infallible. This is laughably naive.

    You need to think about it a lot more. How do you explain that Buicks, that share almost everything with lowly Chevys, have this alleged reported reliability? The people I know who have expensive, top end Park Avenue Buicks, are in the shop every other week.

    I have real data in my hands about my 7 of four years, and my previous Accord coupe 5-speed. There are specific items on the bimmer such as the EXHAUST that NEVER fail, while the stupid Honda needed new exhaust parts every other year. This is due to far superior materials in the Bimmer.

    The explanation is, those who ride in Buicks have very low expectations, much lower than those that shelled out $100k for a new S class or a 7. For the buick owners, minor faults are NOT reported AT ALL! While the first owner of my 7, while under warranty, did such FRIVOLOUS repairs as to replace a $1,700 navigation screen etc, just because he claimed there was some kind of a “line” on his screen! Laughable!

    If you really believe that Mercedes and BMW, the undisputed kings of the TRUE Luxury Segment, make cars as crappy and unreliable ads Buicks, cars that are driven by CEOS and even drive Heads of State around, you do not have clue one.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “jmo :
    October 21st, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    for a over-blown Toyota Camry been reasonable

    It’s a GS not an ES.”

    We are fully aware, the only real luxury lexus is the LS. The ES is identical to the Camry. the IS is probably based on the… Corolla platform, not even the camry’s. Or does the tiny 3 series pretender (and failed in the markets, despite its alleged reliability) have its own tiny platform?

    Size-wise, the GS is not bigger than the Camry, in fact, it is rather CRAMPED inside, as Mike KAresh already pointed. WHen you pay $53k for a luxury FOUR door vehicle, I assume you want to make sure you can transport 4 full size adults, if not five, in comfort, and the GS sure fails in this.

    ALSO, it is REALLY not pretty or beautiful or anything of the sort, in exterior styling. Nothing like the pre-bangle BMWS or the Mercs of the 80s and 90s. Or any Audi.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    In the profile, the GS does look good but the recent facelift Lexus gave the GS doesn’t do it any favors. That face is till kind of offensive. The last gen GS lines were handsomely done and I think still look contemporary, even today.

    It seems to me that GS is more a highway cruiser than a backroad stormer. In that case, I can’t see how this would’ve placed over the M35 (material quality notwithstanding). I always thought the M35 was closer to the BMW in being a great car for road trips but playful when you’re ready to exit the highway for country roads.

    Meh…I’ll send my mother to Lexus when she wants to upgrade from her Camry.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Autosavant,
    The IS and the GS are on the same platform, which is primarily RWD (with AWD available on the smaller engines offered). Nothing to do with the Corolla.

    But I think an interesting question is raised, which is whether the ES would have done equally well as the GS. Granted, its FWD, but if handling isn’t a strong suit of the GS, then I fail to see why folks pony up the extra $8K for one.

    Not many do, I suppose.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Autosavant,

    If you really believe that Mercedes and BMW, the undisputed kings of the TRUE Luxury Segment, make cars as crappy and unreliable ads Buicks, cars that are driven by CEOS and even drive Heads of State around, you do not have clue one.

    Reliability isn’t be all end all of automobiledom. A car can be spectacular even if it is less reliable than a competitor. If you put 200k miles on a 612 Scaglietti will it break down more often than a Camry? I would venture to guess that it will. Is a 612 Scaglietti a stupendous feat to automobile engineering and a superlative automobile – it most certainly is.

    Just because your 7 breaks down more often than a LS460 doesn’t mean that the 7 isn’t a more desirable car.

  • avatar
    jmo

    then I fail to see why folks pony up the extra $8K for one.

    It’s a “real” Lexus that doesn’t share a platform with US market Toyotas is at least some of the reason.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “SherbornSean :
    October 21st, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Autosavant,
    The IS and the GS are on the same platform, which is primarily RWD (with AWD available on the smaller engines offered). Nothing to do with the Corolla.”

    Thanks for the informative reply. However, the IS and GS do have something common with the corolla, ie thei tiny size, and the IS and GS probably have less rear room than the corolla. Which begs the question, why make them 4 door sedans and not far more natural for their size and room, 2 door coupes. and then they would also look much better, coupes almost always do look much better than sedans, especially sporty sedans.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    Just because your 7 breaks down more often than a LS460 doesn’t mean that the 7 isn’t a more desirable car.

    My own 7 does NOT break down more often than some unspecified LS460.

    Instead of personalizing it, you should say that the average 7 is REPORTED to fail more than the average LS 400 or 430 or 460, but this is nothing to write home about, because the average LS will probably fail even less than “your” Jag XJ and even “Your” S-class. And that, plus very nice interior materials in the LS430 and 460, is what justifies their high resale values.

    But my living room sofa is more reliable than the LS, and is more fun to sit in too!

    In fact, recently ther S class has had far more complaints on reliability than the 7. And this is major change, since the S-class of the pre-1991 vintage was very reliable, I have several people who owned them and I have seen them with my eyes.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Since you mentioned it, Toyota is actually investigating drive-by-joystick:

    http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/102109-goodbye-steering-wheel-here-comes.html

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Which begs the question, why make them 4 door sedans and not far more natural for their size and room, 2 door coupes. and then they would also look much better, coupes almost always do look much better than sedans, especially sporty sedans.

    Um, ok, not following the logic here (if there is any). Are you saying because the Corolla has more back seat room Lexus shouldn’t sell the IS?

    I have yet to drive/ride a RWD car that isn’t more cramped inside than an equally sized FWD car. Some people (like me) prefer RWD, others FWD. Glad both are offered.

    And while coupes are cool, sedans are more practical for many folks. And, I’m probably in the minority here, better looking proportion-wise. There have several ‘classics’ in my lifetime, but three that come to mind are the design lines of the mid-60′s Chevys, late-70′s MBs and Jags, and mid-80′s 5 series.

  • avatar
    NoSubstitute

    I found myself driving one of these (GS300)for a year or so. My biggest complaint was that the complete absence of the sensation of driving repeatedly caused me to forget I was in a car, resulting in a number of close calls with the fuel gauge (like all things Toyota, absolutely reliable; when it says you’re out of gas, YOU’RE OUT OF GAS).

    As to the ride quality, it’s impeccable on the Interstate. But my brief experiment with modestly sporting driving on wine country backroads led immediately to protests of queasiness from my three passengers and a prompt recalibration to the more dignified velocities favored by Lexus’ silver haired clientele.

    Last, there was that damn retractable drawer. When you bang it with your leg (and you will), it hurts more than you think it’s going to.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Autosavant

    However, the IS and GS do have something common with the corolla, ie thei tiny size, and the IS and GS probably have less rear room than the corolla.

    I always thought the IS was primarily a 2 door with a pair of extra doors thrown in to let it appear as a sedan. That rear seat is CRAMPED. However, if backseat space is what you want, Lexus will be sure to point out the ES in the far corner of the showroom. Or (if you’ve a got the bucks to do it) the LS460L at the back.

    The IS sells primarily on performance and looks. Interior space is a secondary matter.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Michael Karesh :

    I had a 99 GS400 with about 110k on it. If you really haven’t had any issues with yours, you should be thankful that your:

    Ball joints, starter, transmission mounts, motor mounts, sunroof, power door lock actuators and Nakamichi sound system haven’t given you issues. Mine had at least 3/4ths of the problems on that list, and they were by no means isolated to my car from what I’ve read on the Clublexus forums. The GS400 was far from reliable in my opinion

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    CobaltFire :
    October 21st, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I do wonder about this comparison.

    How many people honestly prioritize the AWD models?

    Good question, which I answered in the introduction. Yes, AWD does dull things somewhat, but I live in Denver, and you can’t find non-AWD versions of these cars. Therefore, all have AWD, except for the Jag, which isn’t offered with it.

    Hope that clears things up.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    I’ll second FreedMike’s statement about AWD. Here in Chicago we have the same situation – can’t hardly find RWD versions of the Lexus or Infiniti….

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Actually, the quality and reliability of this generation GS has been shockingly poor, especially for the AWD version.

    ’06 and ’07 GS300 AWDs were so bad in fact that they were not even recommended by CR for reliability reasons. If the A6 includes a mechanic, perhaps A6 owners could lend their mechanics to GS AWD owners with broken cars.

    If an Audi or BMW has to go into the shop every now and then, it’s an Audi or BMW when it comes out. An unreliable Lexus on the other hand has no reason to exist.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    cobaltfire,

    It depends where you live. We have mild winters here in St. Louis. It snows a few times a year and rarely sticks around longer than the morning commute. Even in these mild conditions, the AWD models are the big sellers here. The AWD models have become so prevelent that most manufacturer ads and lease deals feature the AWD models. Go further north, you will hardly find rear drive models in dealer stock. I’ve been in the car business as long as I’ve been old enough to sell. In many luxury buyers minds a car isn’t even considered safe without AWD these days. I’m not sure where this came form, but its true.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    I love how the issue of the fabled “German Unreliability” always pops up in the comparisons. Really, even if its true, it does not mean all that much because the German cars are fun. Simple. Some people value reliability and fuel economy. Some people value fun-to-drive. It’s all in your personal priorities. Congratulations to Lexus for making a very reliable luxury car. Boo on Lexus for making it boring, boring, boring. I don’t care if it never breaks, if it’s not fun then I don’t want it personally.

    On a side note, my 2004 A6 2.7T S-Line has 78000km and I have not an issue with it. My father’s 2000 A6 2.7T, well, the driver’s side window stopped working once but that did not make him feel like trading in the 9 years of trouble free driving he has had. A Co-Worker just hit 176,000km on his 2000 S4, never had to take it in aside from when he chipped it 40,000km ago.

    I think the unreliability of German cars, Audi specifically, are highly exaggerated. And even if a Lexus is more reliable, most people looking at an Audi or BMW because they want a fun luxury car and will not trade away years worth of spirited driving for a few less garage trips over the life of the car.

  • avatar
    jmo

    A Co-Worker just hit 176,000km on his 2000 S4, never had to take it in aside from when he chipped it 40,000km ago.

    Still on the original A arms and bushings, or are those considered a “wear item”?

  • avatar
    drifter

    easyrider :
    What a joke. The CTS destroys this….thing!!!

    Only thing CTS destroys is the owner’s vallet, have you checked resale prices of 3 year old CTS. They go cheaper than a loaded corolla…not a Joke

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I had my wife’s 4 year old A6 towed to the dealer on Monday (some sort of security/electrical problem – $1700, two months after the warranty ended).

    The tow truck operator basically told me that his business these days is mostly Audis. I asked “What about Hondas?”, pointing to my trusty Accord. “Never heard of them.”

    Sorry Mike, but working 80 hours a week and making six figures for me means I can’t afford to be looking after a fickle unreliable car. Life is too short, even if those heated leather seats are dandy.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    I’ve had my 2000 s4 since new. I spent more on repairs this year alone than the 5-6 grand that the car is worth. I love the bodystyle though. Many cars have come and gone but I keep that little audi. I’ve replaced all the control arms, clutch, turbos last january, 2 timing belts, a couple coolant overflows, a power steering rack, cam tensioner seals, wheel bearings, boots, a gas tank, the list goes on and on.

    Now the S4 isn’t a great example of the repairs being worth it. The car is not that spectacular when compared to some other sport sedans. But I think for most owners the repair costs of owning an m3,m5, s4 or similar are worth it because the cars are so much fun to drive compared to jap cars.

  • avatar
    jmo

    saponetta,

    I totally agree.

    I’ve had 2 passats and a GTI and I liked them and I’d rather have them over a Camry or Civic Si – but I don’t need to delude myself into thinking they are reliable.

    I also think much of the blandness of the Lexus has to do with most engineering decisions being made with an eye toward quality and reliablity. Take the front suspension on my Passats – as regular as clockwork I’d have to have the a arms replaced (even at 115k VW still paid for parts). I assume this is because of the complex front suspension which provided a good ride, spirited handeling and a minimum of torque street – it just didn’t last very long.

    Toyota would have gone with a design that had more torque steer, worse handleing, worse steering feel but would have lasted 200k miles.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    The Lexus GS is based on the Toyota Aristo platform. The Aristo was a perform sedan for the Japanese market, TT V6 engine with RWD making 300+hp (back when 300+ was big not normal)

    I have a 2nd generation GS400 (1998) and it is the sportiest of the usable Lexus 4-door sedans in that era (IS aside).

    I am not sure that the 3rd generation GS appeals to people who don’t already value the Lexus proposition (vs an E or a 5 series). But for those who do and want RWD the GS is the logical albeit expensive choice. The IS doesn’t really have a backseat.

    I wouldn’t buy it new at 50k but I would easily buy one with 100K miles for 10-12k. Why? b/c the drivetrain and electronics are largely bulletproof and the car can run 200-300k miles with care.

    Image aside, I think Lexus makes luxury cars for how people actually drive rather than what they think they’ll do (racing in the twisties)

  • avatar

    Since this thread has deviated into a “german car reliability thread”…I guess the Lexus gets that much excitement from the B & B that they discuss something else !

    BMW is very reliable if you get the “normal” version. It’s the M cars, the zhps, etc that cause the problems. The base cars are built to be bulletproof-they take risks with the “fluff” cars.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    I stopped criticizing Toyota a long time ago. They are what they are, and if that’s what you want, it’s probably the best thing going. Personally, I’d never own one, but am willing to take the Euro hit on repair costs and reliability, for whatever I get in return. And it’s not as bad as the people around here want you to believe, after they got burned on their VW Rabbits 20 years ago and never looked back. And although I’ve pretty much always driven the Germans, when anyone asks me what to buy, I quickly survey their aura. 9 times out of 10 I advise they get the Toyota. I know they’ll be happy and, let’s face it, we need more happiness in the world.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    I learned if I’m going to buy a car, I should test drive them and form my own opinion rather than listen to some reviewer who doesn’t share my values, or don’t even have my same biases.

    For example, I find an ES300 to be too loud, have too much road and steering feedback, not isolating enough and generally too sporty for my tastes. Listen to the average auto review of that car, and they’d say it’s silent, lacks soul, and too isolating, and no fun to drive. Same car, different opinions.

    Also, maybe I’m the only one, but I root for Lexus, Infiniti, Cadillac, and now Lincoln and Hyundai because they’re always the underdog with auto reviewers and car snobs.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I loved the “DrudgeReport despair” comment, but you really really gotta warn next time before you bring up Akira. Please don’t do that when I have a full stomach.

    About the car … it’s a Lexus. Yawn. Actually, the GS is a pretty attractive car compared to the Acura and Infiniti peers in that ‘market segment,’ but I’d actually rather have a Toyota Mark-X.

  • avatar
    drifter

    BMW is very reliable if you get the “normal” version. It’s the M cars, the zhps, etc that cause the problems.
    I have “normal” version of 325i 5-speed. Among other things, I have replaced 3 window regulators in 18 months already. The Suzuki I owned longer hasn’t had a nary problem.

    The base cars are built to be bulletproof-
    Try again

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    re: Brock_Landers: I stand corrected Sir. I have had the unfortunate time in a Camry and found it very lacking. However, I will admit to my argument of why some people love Buicks. Just because it is completely inexplainable to me does not mean its not perfectly wonderful to someone else.

    So that leaves the Audi, der Beemer and the Jag left in this competition

    Sorry, the automotive vernacular for a BMW car is Bimmer. A Beemer is the motorcycle. I had C&D correct me in an Editorial once and am still smarting from the experience.

    CobaltFire :
    October 21st, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I do wonder about this comparison.

    How many people honestly prioritize the AWD models?

    Must be a lot. Ford continually keeps a front drive platform modified by AWD in the best versions. Audi and Subaru have made their makes on it.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The Lexus GS is based on the Toyota Aristo platform. The Aristo was a perform sedan for the Japanese market, TT V6 engine with RWD making 300+hp (back when 300+ was big not normal)

    Technically, the first- and second-generation GS was a Toyota Aristo. The current GS is sold as a GS in Japan as well, while the Aristo nameplate was discontinued.

    I kind of miss the reverse-cachet of these cars being sold as Toyotas in Japan.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    ZCD2.7T wrote:

    I’ll second FreedMike’s statement about AWD. Here in Chicago we have the same situation – can’t hardly find RWD versions of the Lexus or Infiniti….

    Even less surprisingly perhaps, here in Toronto the 4Matic Benzes and X-whatever-they’re-calling-them-this-week BMWs dominate as well. And naturally (aside from the odd A3) the Audi stores tend to stock only quattro variants.

    With a couple of exceptions I haven’t driven recent versions of the cars in this test. But so far both the rankings and their justifications make perfect sense. And it’s nice to see a comparison test of AWD cars that doesn’t involve simulated snowy road hoonage.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    “Sorry, the automotive vernacular for a BMW car is Bimmer.”

    True, but I’ve never heard anyone pronounce it anything but “Beemer”.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    WaftableTorque:

    Very true. I’ve learned though that reading reviews then driving a car will change how I see a car. It takes about a week of test driving it before I really get a true opinion of what it is.

    i.e. Edmunds told me when Camry first came out made it seem amazing, quiet, refined, when it’s merely quiet, but completely unrefined.

    i.e. Everyone saying Accord is “sporty” when it’s just so dang heavy and big it just feels “planted” in corners. Not sporty at all. And slow, too.

    Anytime you drive a car with preconceived opinions, you’ll have a different view of what it truly is. The worst is when generations and generations of people extol BMW cars, but the recent interiors have been total crap (3, 5, previous gen-7).

    That being said, GS interior isn’t my taste. The red wood that comes with black interior looks fake! And the whole dash is all plastic. Grosssss. Lexus needs to bring back the maple eye or burl walnut or whatever they had in the LS430! That was awesome!

  • avatar
    James2

    For example, I find an ES300 to be too loud, have too much road and steering feedback, not isolating enough and generally too sporty for my tastes. Listen to the average auto review of that car, and they’d say it’s silent, lacks soul, and too isolating, and no fun to drive. Same car, different opinions.

    I would like to see the car that’s even duller than the Lexus ES. Toyota engineers would hang their heads in shame that they couldn’t do “worse”.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    werewolf34 :
    Image aside, I think Lexus makes luxury cars for how people actually drive rather than what they think they’ll do (racing in the twisties)

    Own an Audi, drove a Lexus numerous times, about 35 times. The thing handled like a wet noodle. I felt unsafe in it. The constant separation of road to driver made me uneasy. I had no idea what was going on around or under the car.

    Maybe that’s their secret? Make a Lexus so unappealing/unsettling to drive aggressively and people won’t. Less stress on parts. Less parts breaking. Higher reliability ratings.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Maybe that’s their secret? Make a Lexus so unappealing/unsettling to drive aggressively and people won’t.

    May I ask where you are doing all this “agressive” driving? For most people it’s pull out of driveway, stop sign, stop sign, right turn, onramp, 30 min of traffic, offramp, stop sign, stop sign, right turn, office.

    Do you work at one end of the Nürburgring and live at the other – or what?

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    quote: Maybe that’s their secret? Make a Lexus so unappealing/unsettling to drive aggressively and people won’t. Less stress on parts. Less parts breaking. Higher reliability ratings.

    I really had a good laugh on this one. This is the best conclusion in a long time that I’ve heard when a German car owner/fanatic justifies his high repair bills and tries to make feel better about himself :) From these kind of absurd armchair-quarterback conclusions comes the German luxury car drivers traditional looking-down-at-japanese-luxury-cars attitude :)

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    BMW is very reliable if you get the “normal” version. It’s the M cars, the zhps, etc that cause the problems.
    I have “normal” version of 325i 5-speed. Among other things, I have replaced 3 window regulators in 18 months already. The Suzuki I owned longer hasn’t had a nary problem.

    I assume you bought it new? There are variations in reliability even among mainstream versions of luxury cars, I remember the old Mercedeses of the 90s, the C class was far less reliable than the E and the S was almost perfectly reliable before the 92-99 series. Too bad, because back then I wanted to get one of these 92-99 S’s, and hesitated because of that.

    The 7, and especially the 740iL I own, also has far less of a chance to have been driven very hard by its owners. There is the sports version of the short-er (but still huge) 740iL, if they were selling one of these, I sure would have taken far more risks.

    If you buy used, how the car was driven is as important as its reputation for reliability. And I do no tmean the owner was irresponsible, I mean some owners face far tougher driving conditions for each mile. It is not the same. The previous owner of my seven put in a ton of easy, harmless highway miles commuting 120 miles every day. My commute is 1.5 miles each way, cold start in cold snowbelt weather, when I do 120 winter commuting miles it is 40 days (8 weeks) of winter commuting, but for him it was one easy day!!

  • avatar
    John R

    This GS350 is NOT AWD. I call Shenanigans. Mr. Freed, you fail. You did not use a comparable Infiniti in this comparison.

  • avatar
    Joshua Johnson

    Maybe that’s their secret? Make a Lexus so unappealing/unsettling to drive aggressively and people won’t.

    May I ask where you are doing all this “agressive” driving? For most people it’s pull out of driveway, stop sign, stop sign, right turn, onramp, 30 min of traffic, offramp, stop sign, stop sign, right turn, office.

    Do you work at one end of the Nürburgring and live at the other – or what?

    For those of us who live in flyover land, the interstates and highways are usually fairly free flowing during rush hour traffic. Going 70-80 with sprints up to 90 is pretty common, depending on time and location. It would indeed be a sad day for me, if I were unable to drive my Jag S-Type R at these speeds.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    jmo :
    May I ask where you are doing all this “agressive” driving? For most people it’s pull out of driveway, stop sign, stop sign, right turn, onramp, 30 min of traffic, offramp, stop sign, stop sign, right turn, office.

    Do you work at one end of the Nürburgring and live at the other – or what?

    I assume Michael Freed and other auto journalists did not have to take it on the Nürburgring to come to the same conclusion I did, that a Lexus is not a sports sedan. Really, this Lexus needs to be compared to Lincoln and Buick….thats its competition.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    re: fincar1

    “Sorry, the automotive vernacular for a BMW car is Bimmer.”

    True, but I’ve never heard anyone pronounce it anything but “Beemer”.

    I’ve heard people pronounce Nuclear as “Nuke-u-ler” but that doesn’t make them right. I had thought the same thing, never occured to me a Beemer was the motorcycle.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’d take the Lexus over the Jaguar you just ranked at 3rd place.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    Easyrider

    Driving a Lexus means no unscheduled repairs.

    Or a toyota with leather

  • avatar
    Via Nocturna

    Dynamics aside, it’s pleasant to see a new Japanese car that is easy on the eyes. Say what you will about the driving dynamics, but the sheetmetal is crisp, well-proportioned, and mature. Which just highlights the disparity between the GS and, say, a new TL.

    Seriously, did someone put something in the water over there? How did they manage to go from sublimely efficient and pleasing designs like the first-generation TSX, TL, and Mazda3 to what’s on the market today? Compare the current generation of just about any Japanese car or ute to its predecessor and you have to wonder how and why the entire Japanese auto industry was apparently brutalized with an especially large and thorny ugly stick.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    John R :
    October 22nd, 2009 at 11:42 am

    This GS350 is NOT AWD. I call Shenanigans. Mr. Freed, you fail. You did not use a comparable Infiniti in this comparison.

    Actually, it is…along with the Infiniti. As I pointed out in the introduction, all these cars except the XF have AWD systems.

    Hope that clarifies things for you.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    frizzlefry :
    October 22nd, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I assume Michael Freed and other auto journalists did not have to take it on the Nürburgring to come to the same conclusion I did, that a Lexus is not a sports sedan. Really, this Lexus needs to be compared to Lincoln and Buick….thats its competition.

    Well, first off, I wouldn’t call myself an “automotive journalist”. Just a guy with a journalism degree who likes cars…but thanks for my ego boost for the day. :)

    I use a variety of roads around Denver to test these cars. Unfortunately, Denver isn’t a great spot for winding roads, but there is one hilly road near my house with a 25 mph speed limit that’s fairly demanding to drive quickly. If a car has handling flaws, they’ll show up here. There are also a good number highways with high-speed corners, and Interstates to evaluate highway driving.

    All told, I probably got these cars no further than six or seven-tenths to their limits; I need a lot more training go any faster, and I’m sure my insurance guy wouldn’t be pleased if I wadded up a $50,000 car that wasn’t mine. Mr. Baruth could probably tell you how well these cars do at the hairy edge.

    Here’s the interesting thing about the Lexus: it did surprisingly well on the back road route capability-wise. It felt willing and agile, but there was no feedback in the steering. I don’t think Lexus has that far to go in that regard.

  • avatar
    carsinamerica

    @ Autosavant:

    Thanks for the informative reply. However, the IS and GS do have something common with the corolla, ie thei tiny size, and the IS and GS probably have less rear room than the corolla.

    The IS has less rear legroom than the Corolla, to be sure (and is small for its class), but the GS has as much rear legroom as the mini-Camry (a tenth more, actually). The GS is not tiny; it’s roughly the same size as the BMW 5-Series (and it has more legroom than the 5er). It’s a classic midsize sports sedan. Like many cars in its class, it’s spacious up front, and rather less so in the back.

  • avatar
    Accords

    Jeez:

    Can someone just please tell me what happened to the DISTINCTIVE GS?

    Oh yeah..
    Got caught in a hot lamp and turned to mush.

    jmo :
    I happen to live a solid hr from work if I leave by 615a every morning.

    I put on 138.3 miles.. every single day to and from work. Driving.. is about skill. Its about working the car. Most times.. there is little traffic and plenty of road to work out the kinks.

    Now I currently do it in a 00 Accord that I put 120k in 3 yrs time. My next car will be a Mazda 3 hatch… and she will run.. like its her JOB.

    I pass yahoos everyday driving everything from S / R Classes to Taurus to CLS and everyone is totally asleep at the wheel and or not paying attention to how traffic is moving and or generally whats going on.

    I..
    Like to drive.

    And buying a Lexus…
    Is for people who dont.


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