Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Lexus GS 300, Part 2

Exterior Design *****
Although there are pistonheads who worship the deeply dippy SC, the GS300 is Lexus s coolest ever (first cool?) car. Working within Japan s emerging "car as designer refrigerator" aesthetic, its sensual shape and hunkered stance project power and athleticism. The rear end is a disgrace: a less effective attempt to resolve dramatic tension than the Dynasty episode where aliens abduct Fallon.

Acceleration: *
The Lexus GS300 s 3.0-liter six is a whiny, badly geared, torque deficient, thoroughly reluctant powerplant. Ever gone up a steep hill, squeezed the accelerator to no appreciable effect, squeezed it further with still no effect, and squeezed it again; waiting for the inevitable vicious kickdown? And then, when it finally arrives, you get lots of sound and not nearly enough fury? Like that. If a big ass Honda Odyssey can have a quick, quiet, buttery V6, why not a Lexus?

Braking ***
Plenty of power, lots of electronic cavalry waiting in the wings, minimal feel.

Ride *
Not only does the GS300 crash over large surface imperfections, it crashes over small ones too. And the ones it doesn t crash over, you feel in your tuches. (A sensitive driver could probably traverse a coin and tell you the denomination.) For a luxury car, for a Lexus, being shaken and stirred is completely unacceptable. And that s without considering our test car s groaning suspension.

Handling ****
The rear-wheel-drive GS remains flat and level in the most extreme cornering attitudes, and maintains a Bruno Samartino-like hold on the pavement — right until gentle understeer and/or the handling Nanny take over. That said, the GS s recalcitrant powerplant and its zero-G steering feel puts a big Why bother? sign over the whole enterprise. Besides, anyone who gives a Lexus a proper pasting is either acting out some weird class-based vendetta, being chased by the police (for white collar crimes) or needs a BMW.

Gearbox *
The GS300 six-speed autobox has a truly nasty driveline shunt when pulling away from a standing start with any vigor whatsoever. The problem might have been a peculiar to our test car (the journo-thrashed 11k odometer reading should be translated into dog years), but it s an issue you wouldn t expect to encounter in a Toyota Avalon, never mind a $51k Lexus. And although the gearbox [eventually] slurs changes with admirable grace, the accompanying engine whine takes all the joy right out of it.

Audio/Video **
The Mark Levinson stereo is another disappointment: the higher frequencies are extremely grating and all the sound comes from the top of the dash. Surprisingly, there s no iPod connectivity or XM radiology. The GS s rear-view camera s image quality is startlingly good, and much appreciated by suburban dwellers.

Toys****
The GS has this trick panel that drops down from the dash to handle all the mirror-positioning, trunk opening sorts of jobs. I didn t even know it was there until I scanned the jpegs. Meanwhile, the central touchscreen with flanking buttonology do all that voodoo that luxury cars do so well. I just wish it hadn t been set-up to show me a real-time sliding bar depiction of my mileage.

Trunk***
A large but strangely shaped affair: long, relatively shallow (especially compared to a Caddy s four body schlepper) and pinched in the middle.

Overall *

[by Robert Farago]

Related:
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Lexus GS 300, Part 1, Part 3 [internal]