Review: Lexus GS (2005 – 2012)

Rating:

Very refined and quiet. Effortless performance from all engines. Hybrid GS450h is superbly refined. Stuffed with technology and equipment. Excellent crash test rating.

Not the smoothest motorway cruiser. Some reports of below-par cabin assembly. Alloy wheels can oxidise. No diesel in the range.

Recently Added To This Review

29 August 2018

Report of 2010 Lexus GS450h with 116,000 miles breaking down. Owner heard a sound, car lost balance and experienced braking. Pulled over to check. There is noise like an old tractor from under the car.... Read more

14 October 2014

Just-Auto.com report of worldwide recall of Lexus GS, ISC, IS, and LS models to repair fuel delivery pipes that could leak and increase fire risk. Toyota Europe will recall about 36,000 Lexus IS,... Read more

26 February 2014

Creaky dash reported on 20k mile 2009 GS450h. Attempts by Lexus to cure this using felt have failed. Apparently a common problem (has been complained of by readers before). No known solution. Read more

Lexus GS (2005 – 2012): At A Glance

The Lexus GS is the Japanese brands' luxury rival to established executive models like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class. Majoring on quality and technology, it's an incredibly advanced car that's available with cutting edge systems to improve on-board comfort, safety and performance. Perhaps the biggest surprise is what there isn't - a diesel engine. While the smaller Lexus IS is available with a Toyota-sourced diesel, the larger GS only comes with petrol engines. But it does have an ace up its sleeve - the GS450h.

The 'h' stands for hybrid and it's a true motoring innovation - the world's first rear-wheel drive full-hybrid power car. Thanks to the combination of a petrol engine and an electric motor is provides incredibly strong yet effortless performance, especially from a standstill, while fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are impressively low for a car with so much power. The GS450 is so good in fact, that it's now the only model available - the petrol engined GS300 and GS460 were dropped from the range as their thirsty nature meant they weren't big sellers.

All GS models are superbly engineered with exceptional build quality, so it's little surprise the GS performs strongly in owner satisfaction surveys - as do all Lexus models. The dealers also have a great reputation for customer care and also regularly top the likes of the J.D Power survey both in the U.S and here. In 2010 it came top of the J.D. Power UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study with owners particularly happy in three of the four key measures: vehicle quality and reliability, vehicle appeal and service satisfaction.

What does a Lexus GS (2005 – 2012) cost?

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Lexus GS (2005 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4825–4850 mm
Width 1820 mm
Height 1430 mm
Wheelbase 2850 mm

Full specifications

While we can't fault the finish or the quality of the materials used the Lexus doesn't quite have that sense of occasion of some its German rivals. That said, the dash is well laid-out, if a little busy and the chrome backed dials give it a sporty feel. It's shame then to see Toyota switches and buttons - not what you want in a car at this level. Thankfully the controls are fairly intuitive to use and everything feels well built and impeccably finished. It's just not very 'special'.

Most models get sat nav comes as standard which is a good feature, but the system isn't the best around and quite fiddly to use. Annoyingly you have to be stationary in order to programme in a destination so it;s not as if you can change your mind on the move or even set it in traffic. The GS also comes with ‘steering-guided' parking sensors fitted but this is little misleading. It's not the same system in the larger LS which actually turns the steering wheel for you - instead it gives you guidelines superimposed onto the reversing camera, warns of obstacles and suggest which way the driver should steer.

Given that this is a large saloon, you'd expect the boot to be cavernous but while it's large in the petrol models, it's smaller in the GS450h as this is where the 240 nickel hydride batteries are located - directly above the rear axle to power the hybrid engine. They take up 150 litres and as a result space is reduced to just 280 litres - that's less than Volkswagen Golf. However, one neat feature is a special set of luggage, designed to make the most of the available space, although it's not cheap. The boot is tricky to load though because of the narrow shape of the bootlid, although there is a self-closing function, so you don't have to slam it shut. The batteries also seem to have affected rear legroom as it seems tighter than you'd expect given the long wheelbase.

Equipment from launch (April 2005):

GS300 gets Smart Key entry and push-button start-up system, a 10-speaker sound system with in-dash six-disc CD player, speed-sensitive electric power steering, cruise control, sequenced interior lighting with LED technology, leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel, advanced automatic dual-zone air conditioning, eight-way electrically adjustable front seats, tyre pressure warning system, Adaptive Front-lighting System, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and an eight-inch touch-screen display.

GS300 SE models add the Lexus DVD-based satellite navigation system with rear view monitor and steering-guided parking sensors, leather upholstery and additional lumbar adjustment plus heating and ventilation functions for the front seats.

GS300 SE-L adopts an electric tilt/slide sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels and a Mark Levinson 14-speaker hi-fi system. Standard features on the GS430 include Adaptive Cruise Control with Pre-Crash Safety and a wood and leather trimmed steering wheel.

GS 430 models get Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) and a Multimedia Pack that includes a 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, satellite navigation with dynamic route guidance, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-DVD autochanger.

GS 450h is equipped with a comprehensive range of technologically advanced equipment, designed both to simplify and enhance life on board. These include Smart Key access, sequenced interior lighting as driver or passengers enter or leave the vehicle, push-button engine start-up and steering-sensitive parking sensors. It also features the only fully electric climate control air conditioning system in its segment, reducing the impact on fuel economy and performance compared to conventional systems. In the cabin, the instrument panel remains clearly visible in all light conditions, thanks to the new Electronic Chromatic Device (ECD). This uses a light sensor in the high-mounted stop light to gauge the ambient light level and adjust the brightness of the Optitron instrument dials accordingly.

Child seats that fit a Lexus GS (2005 – 2012)

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What's the Lexus GS (2005 – 2012) like to drive?

The GS is an upmarket executive car in the same mould as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or BMW 5 Series so you'd expect it to excel when it comes to smooth motorway cruising, but while it's incredibly refined and quiet on board, the Lexus doesn't actually ride that well. It tends to fidget on bumpy roads and feels a lot busier than you'd expect of a large saloon from a Japanse brand. It's not uncomfortable, but other rivals feel more forgiving. Top models, including the GS450h, come with an Adaptive Variable Suspension system - this automatically adjusts damping force on all four wheels independently and monitors  things like engine revs, wheel speed and steering, continuously adjusting each shock absorber. It's marginally better than the standard suspension on the GS300, but not by much and doesn't solve the problem of the 'busy' ride feel.

The sophisticated variable-ratio steering is well weighted but pretty lifeless and doesn't involve you in the driving experience. That said, all GS models are quick, but they none feels especially focussed in corners. In fact, it feels pretty bulky and there's considerable body roll in bends. There are also no diesel engines in the GS range - which continues to be a surprise when you consider than the other makes in this market, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz - all sell more diesel executive saloons than petrols.

Initially there was a GS300 and a GS430, both decent performers although the GS300 seems tame after driving the V8-powered GS430 with 279bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 6.1 seconds. In 2008 the GS430 was replaced by the wonderfully smooth GS460 - and as the name suggest it's a 4.6-litre engine with 342bhp on tap. It really delivers amazingly effortless acceleration and is near silent most of the time, so is an ideal relaxed machine. The problem is economy - it averages just 25.7mpg - not bad for a 4.6-litre V8 but there are equally as fast diesel cars this size which are much more frugal.

The saving grace for the GS is the hybrid model in the shape of the GS450h which was launched in 2006 and is now the only model you can get - the standard petrols have been dropped from the line-up. When you first start the hybrid engine there is no noise and moving away in silence is an eerie sensation. Even when the 3.5-litre V6 petrol unit does cut in, it's almost impossible to detect and excellent insulation means engine noise is kept to a minimum.

The CVT gearbox in the Lexus is one if the best around too and gives it stunning performance. Its 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds is enough to outdo most hot hatches while in-gear acceleration is outstanding, but it's the effortless manner in which it performs which impresses most. The hybrid system uses a standard 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine which develops 292bhp along with an electric motor generating 197bhp and 275Nm of torque from a standstill. The petrol engine and electric motor can power the rear wheels at the same time or, being a ‘full' hybrid, the GS can also operate in pure electric mode. And because battery levels are constantly managed via the engine-drive generator, there is no need to recharge the system from an external source.

The result is an amazingly refined engine which offers awesome pace in an effortless fashion. The electronically controlled continuously variable transmission is another highlight - the stepless system maintains linear acceleration all the way up to the 155mph limiter. There's no doubt that the technology works, and there are advantages besides an increase in fuel economy. For company car drivers, the GS450h is one of the most tax-efficient models in its class, while motorists in London will find the Lexus exempt from the congestion charge.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
450h 36–37 mpg 5.9 s 179–180 g/km

Real MPG average for a Lexus GS (2005 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

93%

Real MPG

21–38 mpg

MPGs submitted

93

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Lexus GS (2005 – 2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Buying an exec saloon for a short commute - A6 or GS?

I drive a 2005 Lexus GS300 and love the reliability, standard level of equipment and comfort. I want to change up to a newer car (1-3 years old). I cover 20,000 miles per year, 70 per cent of which is a short distance commute each day lasting no more than 20 miles. I'm thinking a Lexus GS300H 2014/15 OR Audi A6 2.0 diesel 2014/15. My gut tells me the Lexus is the better option for me based on my driving habits but would appreciate your thoughts or suggestions of an alternative not mentioned here.
Definitely the Lexus hybrid rather than the Audi diesel.
Answered by Honest John
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