The Truth About Cars » GS The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:51:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » GS New or Used: for Ten Thousand Dollars, You could buy a Million Pennies! Fri, 24 Feb 2012 12:52:55 +0000  


Art writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

5 months ago I bought myself something of a quarter-life crisis gift – a CPO 2008 Honda S2000. I love this car to death, which is why I was left heartbroken when it was rear-ended quite badly as part of a 5 car accident on the wonderful roads of Los Angeles. Thankfully I’m OK and insurance is picking up the $5300 tab to fix the car, but the whole incident has put the fear of the traffic gods in me. Now, with the car in the shop for the next 2 weeks, I can’t help but think it would be better to keep the future miles off of it and get a daily driver I’m less passionate about instead.

The car would be used for a ~50mi daily round-trip commute, and on weekends would be asked to support an active lifestyle by hauling a bike or two on a roof-mount or hitch-mount bike rack. I’m aiming for something of a comfortable cruiser and would of course like to spend as little as possible, up to 8 or 10k.

The W202 C-Class Mercedes has always been interesting to me – it has what I think is a classic luxo-sedan look, and it looks like a ’99 C230 Kompressor can be had for well under $10k around these parts, albeit with around 100k-120k on the odo. My limited research shows that these cars aren’t too unreliable, However I feel like I’m asking for trouble with such a well-used late 90′s German luxury sedan.

What do you think? Are my reliability fears well founded? Would a similar vintage Lexus GS be a better value proposition? They’re a bit pricier and a whole lot more, well, beige. What would you do with a $8k-$10k budget in my shoes? I’m open to suggestion, so please feel free to suggest something else. It doesn’t necessarily have to be as aspirational as the luxo-sedans I’ve considered so far.

Sajeev Answers:

The W202 is a lovely automobile from just about every metric.

Problem is, this Benz is more of a museum piece and less of a commuter vehicle. You’ll need a trusty mechanic to keep the repair costs down, and being a whiz with wrenches is also a good idea. Proactively buying parts on-line is mandatory. Anything over 10 years old is gonna be a problem child, but German problem children are just too much for most people.

More importantly, a Lexus GS is only a little nicer on your wallet. With a ton of unique (i.e. not Camry) parts I suspect the repair bills will also be significantly worse on this vehicle. Not that you can’t stomach it, and not that I don’t recommend it. You need a cheap sedan that’s also kinda nice. I get it. But rear-wheel drive motivation given your needs for a cheap second car are…well…loved only by those of a Panther nature.

Get the Lexus, but be ready to blow your budget on getting an old luxury car sorted. Or get something far more mundane, like a depreciation friendly Mazda sedan. Or a Mercury Milan sprinkled with Mazda suspension bits. Or a Camry SE. It’s the classic “save money for less car” deal. You can’t avoid it.

Steve Answers:

For ten thousand dollars, you could buy a million pennies! And God knows how many drachmas a few years from now.

Seriously… I think you need to take some time from ‘the accident’ and weigh it all in. Very few smart financial decisions are made when you recently get out of a fearful experience. A car accident. Death of a loved one. Ownership of any Mercedes made in the late-90′s. Traumatic experiences of these types will always make you a bit more impulsive than usual.

We all need a bit of escapism in our lives. That’s true. But not with money damn it! So my advice is to do nothing.

Yeah, I could recommend seventeen different versions of modern day Eurotrash vehicles. But there is a small problem with that. The prior owner. A lot of folks who are trying to sell these types of vehicles in my world are either trying to kick the maintenance bucket before it’s full. Or just got drenched with a big repair and don’t want it to happen yet again.

These vehicles can get more expensive than a Marion Barry crackfest. If it were my call, I would just save my money for a while. Sell the Honda once the bloom is off that rose and then get a new(er) vehicle that you truly love.

Good luck!


Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Review: 2013 Lexus GS350 and GS450h, Part Two Tue, 06 Dec 2011 11:56:12 +0000

Sometimes I have troubles viewing Lexus with an objective eye. The first car that ever excited me was the 1993 Lexus LS400 my best friend’s dad bought. It wasn’t the driving experience that delivered the “wow” factor; it was the fact that everything inside seemed deliberately perfect from the leather seams, to the wood that wasn’t bubbling and peeling like a 2 year old Jag.  In truth, the LS400, like most Lexus models, was a bit boring, but as this LS example has survived almost 20 years and 300,000 miles with an owner that doesn’t believe in regular maintenance, excitement is not the biggest selling point, but perhaps it should factor in there somewhere. We’ve heard it from Lexus before: wait! We have an exciting car this time! This year’s example: the 2013 GS. You’ve heard my comrade Jack’s take in part one, lets dive into part two.

The previous generation GS was unremarkable looking, so much so that when I was car shopping in late 2006, the dealer had a single all-new (at the time) GS model on the floor getting zero foot traffic while shoppers gravitated towards LS and IS models.

So how about the new mid-size sedan? The new GS may raise some eyebrows with its swoopy profile and hourglass-shaped “spindle” grill, but the design is far from adjectives like: dramatic, exciting, or polarizing. (Admittedly, the E-Class is not very stirring either.) The overall look is sporty, sensible and thoroughly Lexus. Sort of like a sensible sneaker rather than a snazzy pump. Under the hood of the GS beats only one engine choice: the same 306HP 3.5L V6 and 6-speed automatic as in the lighter, more nimble IS350 in regular or hybrid flavors. (Gone is the V8 from previous models due to sagging sales.)

Lexus told us at the press event that less than 5 percent of  mid-size luxury vehicles (including BMW, Mercedes and Audi) were purchased with a V8 last year, I’m thinking that number is a stretch based on the number of E550s I see on the road. True to form however, Lexus indicated that those who desire V8 power will be satisfied with the 338HP hybrid GS450h.

This year’s 450h gets a tweaked 3.5L Lexus V6 with a revised RWD Hybrid Synergy Drive transmission. While 335HP sounds fun, the competition delivers 400+ turbo-charged in their V8 models, I’m not sure the hybrid provides true competition. What it does however is deliver 30+ combined MPGs with its refined CVT and more green-cred than anything in the segment except perhaps the M35h. Lexus tells us that while the GS350′s transmission is mostly caryover, there is a reason: Lexus’ track testers found an 8-speed transmission hunted more than they would like. Haven’t we been saying that all along?

Inside the GS we see more sweeping changes. Gone is the dominating center stack that flowed into the center console, in its place we get a decidedly BMWeque dashboard with a strong horizontal theme dominated by a large 12.3-inch wide-screen LCD and an old-school analogue clock (an interesting choice for an interior trying to be youthful). The interior arrangement is certainly dramatic, the downside is that Lexus has swapped the easy to use touch screen for their awkward joystick device.

If you think iDrive is a pain to use, Lexus’ new Enform system may take you to an all-new level of frustration. Since all the GS sedans at the release event were equipped with the navigation system, we can’t comment on the look sans-nav which I am told uses a smaller screen.

Luxury shoppers love dead tree as much as they love dead cow and the GS delivers on both counts. While full-leather upholstery is still not on the menu, you do get the latest in auto trends: a stitched leather dashboard. The stitched dash, improved seats and available “un-lacquered” wood trim make the interior look almost Scandinavian in design, a great improvement over last year’s interior.

Hybrid buyers are treated to a first in automotive interiors: bamboo. The light wood is far more attractive in person than pictures might indicate, and while I question the “renewable resource” marketing on a large luxury sedan, like the hybrid drivetrain, I’m sure it will make shoppers feel special, and that’s what luxury is all about anyway. Bamboo is definitely renewable, you need a nuclear device to stop it from growing.

Improvement rather than re-invention seems to be Lexus’ mantra, and this theme repeats itself with the hybrid battery pack. Instead of sporting lithium-ion batteries like the Infiniti G35h, the GS450h still gets by with “ye-olde” NiMH batteries with improved packaging to net more usable trunk space. One body in the trunk is OK, but two are still a squeeze.

Since Lexus has always been “the Japanese Mercedes”, it should come as no surprise that the GS350 comes with some of the most comfortable seating available. Base model GS350s receive 10-way power adjustable seats, F-sport models get 16-way seats with adjustable side bolsters and four-way lumbar support, and should the “luxury package” tickle your fancy, you’ll get 18-way thrones covered in semi-aniline cow. Wondering what the 18-ways are? The high end throne has an articulating back, the same inflating bolsters, adjustable thigh support, four way lumbar and “butterfly” headrests. Needless to say, if you have trouble finding a comfortable seating position, you’re not human.

On the gadget front, the GS is playing catch up with the competition. Of course, most shoppers check only a few option tick-boxes, and that’s what Lexus is counting on. Available goodies include an adaptive suspension system, full-LED headlamps (hybrid only), radar cruise control, night vision, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, smartphone app integration, pre-collision warning, a single-color heads-up-display, and an 835-watt Mark Levinson sound system. Much to my surprise, shoppers won’t find any collision mitigation systems (the ones that auto-brake for you) in the GS, nor will they find a radar cruise control system that will handle stop-and-go traffic, “virtual bumpers” massaging or anti-fatigue seats, snazzy 3-D Google maps, iPod voice control or even automated parking.

In contrast, the Infiniti M has more nannies than a pack of trust fund babies. The nannies will intervene in fairly drastic fashion to keep you from spilling your milk. The GS takes a different approach with the Lane Keep Assist providing only the slightest of nudges when you drift from your lane. The pre-collision warning operates in a similar fashion: it will let you know your bacon is in danger, but won’t do much to save it, that’s up to you. Since we were driving pre-production vehicles that still needed some gizmo-tuning, I’ll save my final word for a full review, but if you are anti-nanny, then Lexus’ gentle reminders of your bad driving habits may be more palatable than the systems from the Europeans.

Out on the open road, the GS continues to deliver the Lexus signature smooth and quiet ride. Keeping in mind we were driving pre-production cars, both Jack and I noticed the GS models seemed to be wanting in the thrust department. A quick run in each car yielded some lackluster 0-60 times of 6.8 seconds in the GS350 F-Sport and 6.4 seconds in the GS450h, more than a full second behind the 5.5 seconds Lexus quoted. While the E350 is no speed daemon, the 535i is notably faster than the GS, in a straight line. If you were about to write off the GS for poor road manners, as Jack said in part one; the GS350 surprisingly provides not only better balance but significantly more front end grip and more road feel than the 535i.

As I have said before, I usually prefer the better handling slower car to the poorer-handling faster car, The GS is no different and scores serious points with me. The decision not to include an Infiniti M35h in the track line-up seemed a strange one to me as it is the GS450h’s main competitor in the minds of everyone I quizzed at the event. In this match up unfortunately the GS450h’s only main selling point is a smoother transmission. Maybe that’s why it was conspicuous by its absence. You can check out our recent review of the Infiniti M35h for more information.

While Lexus has yet to release pricing, a little birdie told me to expect a slight increase in the base price. The whole price range should be similar to the outgoing model. Therefore, I would expect the GS530 to start around $47,000 with the GS450h starting near $59,000. Unless Lexus can pull a rabbit out of their hat, this makes the GS350 only a very slight bargain compared with the E350, 535i or A6 3.0T, but still a significant amount more expensive than the 528i or A6 2.0T, not to mention the Volvo S80 T6 or Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec.

If production models don’t meet the 5.5 second 0-60 time, then despite 306HP, the competition for the GS350 will really be the 528i and A6 2.0T. Interestingly, Mark Templin from Lexus indicated they do not plan on attacking the Germans at every front, instead staying focused on the meat of the Luxury market. For Lexus, this means (for the moment at least) no V8, and no dedicated performance line. Sound like Volvo? In a way, with the GS not competing head on with the big-boys they are making themselves more of a direct competitor for a 2ndtier luxury brand such as Volvo or Hyundai’s Genesis.

Since Lexus only brought along a BMW and Mercedes to play with, I must go off memory on the Genesis and S80 T6. Both the Genesis and S80 T6 provide more performance for the dollar than the Lexus (especially the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec) but the Lexus leads in refinement. The S80′s FWD biased AWD drivetrain makes it a competent highway cruiser and the turbocharged 3.0L engine makes it faster in our testing in a straight line, but the GS is by far the better handling vehicle.

The Genesis presents an incredible value proposition, it does not have the GS’ array of safety technologies, lacks rear seat climate control, a heads-up display and night vision, but it is significantly cheaper. You also get three different engine options to choose from, two of which are more potent than the Lexus offerings and all of which are cheaper than we expect the base GS to be. Still, there are only a small segment of shoppers willing to cross-shop a mainline luxury brand with  Hyundai, but the number is growing. Lexus’ reputation for reliable engineering is of course still a factor, but the competition has also been paying attention. Stay tuned for a full review on the GS350 and 450h in the coming months.


Lexus flew Jack Baruth and Alex Dykes to Las Vegas, put us up in a swanky hotel, and gave us a delicious chocolate car. If you want to know more about that chocolate vehicle, you obviously aren’t a fan of us on Facebook. For shame.


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Live From Pebble Beach: The Lexus GX And Infiniti JX Fri, 19 Aug 2011 07:07:16 +0000

Well, you’ve already seen the OEM-approved press shots of the Lexus GS and Infiniti JX, but TTAC’s tame Californian, Alex Dykes, is on hand to bring us all the pomp and pagentry of Pebble Beach. Hit the jump for a full gallery and a few of Alex’s on-the-spot thoughts.

Alex writes that Pebble Beach is “nothing like any other car show I have seen.” Well, so far so good, right? Er, no. Apparently it’s “so disorganized” Alex was not even able to obtain a schedule, “not even a generic list of events.” One presumes that at Pebble Beach, if you have to ask for a schedule, you’re probably just not meant to have one, if you know what I mean. And speaking of the upper-crust disconnect from reality, Saab may not be going to the biggest auto show of the year (Frankfurt), but it’s got a tent at Pebble. Probably with a donation box inside. Alex notes dryly:

Saab made it to Pebble Beach? Isn’t Frankfurt closer?

The Lexus GS, says Alex,

isn’t as boring in person as it in in pictures, however it is still very sedate

I keep thinking that, with cars at or under $20k looking as good as they do these days (for some reason I’m thinking of the Kia Optima and the VW Jetta), big luxury sedans really have to knock your socks off.But as Alex points out, modern designs have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

Luckily, the same is not true about the GS’s new interior. Based on Alex’s notes, it seems that Lexus may be doubling down on its plush, rather than sporting, image… and the GS is becoming more of a “baby LS” than anything else.

The changes seem much larger on the inside, it makes me wonder if the LS will grow soon because the new GS has HVAC and radio controls for the rear seat passengers. The new 12.3″ infotainment cluster is ginormous and looked quite nice in person. Overall the interior has a more BMW flavour now than before with the million-way seats that have an adjustable back contour as well as angle, etc. They also cribbed tech from the LS in the form of the heads up display, eye monitoring system with pre-collision braking. The new lane keep assist now uses the EPAS to steer you back in the land instead of the ABS,

Finally, Alex writes:

The thing I found most interesting was that the GS still uses the same old 3.5L V6, and the same old Toyota 6-speed instead of the new 8 speed units. They cribbed the sport select knob from the ct200h, lets hope it does more in the GS. When pressed about an F-Sport model, the Lexus reps implied a V8 F Sport would début at SEMA. Not sure I’d take that to the bank yet,

And the Infiniti JX? Well, Alex didn’t really write anything about it, but if you’re desperate for knowledge you can read the press release here. I’m not sure if Alex just isn’t inspired by crossovers, or if the JX is just that dull, but it does look good as Alex captures its cover being whipped off. And that’s really what Pebble Beach seems to be about anyway: not information, but spectacle. So sit back and enjoy the show!
IMG_3739 IMG_3742 IMG_3746 IMG_3747 IMG_3748 IMG_3749 IMG_3750 IMG_3752 IMG_3753 IMG_3754 IMG_3755 IMG_3756 IMG_3757 IMG_3758 IMG_3759 IMG_3760 IMG_3761 IMG_3762 IMG_3763 IMG_3764 IMG_3765 IMG_3766 IMG_3767 IMG_3768 IMG_3769 IMG_3772 IMG_3777 IMG_3778 IMG_3779 IMG_3780 IMG_3781 IMG_3782 IMG_3783 IMG_3784 IMG_3785 IMG_3786 IMG_3787 IMG_3788 IMG_3789 IMG_3790 IMG_3792 Welcome to the show! (All photos courtesy: Alex Dykes) IMG_3797 IMG_3798 IMG_3799 IMG_3803 IMG_3805 IMG_3809 saabpebble Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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2013 Lexus GS Tees Off At Pebble Beach Fri, 19 Aug 2011 01:46:03 +0000

In a press release announcing the new 2013 Lexus GS, Lexus group vice president and general manager Mark Templin explains the sports sedan’s mission as follows:

Today, buyers in the mid-size luxury segment want a more engaging driving experience, styling that makes a statement, and a roomier interior package. With the all-new GS, we’re giving them what they asked for, and more.

And if the new GS looked more like the LF-Gh concept, we might agree. But with its toned-down looks failing to move the game past its foregettable forbears (at least in these 2-D images), it seems as though Lexus listen too hard to the customer (for example, creating more space with the same dimensions) and missed an opportunity to create a design that makes a statement that buyers didn’t yet know they couldn’t live without. Tarted-up midsized front-drivers are one thing, but this class of larger, rear-drive sports sedans demands bold yet sophisticated looks… and I’m not convinced this Lexus is “there.”
2013_Lexus_GS_350_001 2013_Lexus_GS_350_002 2013_Lexus_GS_350_003 GS350F_teaser GS450h_teaser Hello GS! Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Buick Regal GS: The Detuned Image Changer Fri, 08 Jan 2010 16:44:15 +0000 I guess those GS'essess was ambidexterous!

Buick has announced that it’s bringing a high(er)-performance GS version of its Opel Insignia-based Buick Regal to the Detroit Auto Show, and later, to the US market. And for once we’re left wishing we were getting a rebadge. After all, for the first several years of US sales, Insignias will be imported from Germany, meaning GM could easily have brought the thoroughly mad Insignia VXR/OPC as a quick-and-dirty (if not cheap) rebadge. After all, the point of the Regal (and especially the GS) is that “we’re trying to rebuild the performance credentials that Buick once held,” as GM reps put it. The European OPC/VXR version gets a 325 HP version of the turbocharged V6 found in the SRX and Saab TurboX, while the GS gets only a 255 hp version of the 2.0 Turbo found in the Solstice GXP. That engine can reportedly be tuned to an easy 310 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, making the “base” Regal CXL with the 220 hp 2.0T engine a much smarter buy. Unless the idea of tuning a Buick is simply more cognitive dissonance than you can handle. Otherwise, the only thing the GS really brings to the table is AWD and a bodykit with more front-end venting than the United States Senate. Still, if you’re young enough to not get a discount at Denny’s and you have to own a Buick, the Regal is the way to go… especially once an enterprising tuner starts offering Opel badging and grilles in the US market.

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