In the 18 years since the Lexus brand was introduced in the U.S., it has shown that luxury, performance, and reliability are not mutually exclusive. Although the top-of-the-line LS model is no slouch when it comes to performance, for the enthusiast, there is no substitute for the GS. For 2008, Lexus has introduced the GS 460, with an all-new 342 horsepower 4.6-liter V8, coupled to an eight (yes, eight) speed automatic transmission to join the GS 350 (a V6) and the gas-electric hybrid GS 450h, replacing the GS 430.
In the city, on the highway, or in the curves, the Lexus GS 460 excels. The 2008 GS 460 is a powerhouse, with an all-aluminum 4.6 liter V8, producing 342 hp at 6,200 rpm and 339 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. Coupled to the 8-speed automatic transmission, this engine propels the GS 460 from 0-60 mph in only 5.4 seconds, and it does this while maintaining surprisingly good gas mileage. When testing, we used so many different gears along with the sleek body shape that it gave the GS 460 a drag coefficient of only 0.27. It is rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, but in our testing we observed numbers that were even slightly better.
Several exterior and interior styling touches introduced with the GS 460 for 2008 are shared with the other GS models, including a new front bumper and air intake design, a new instrument panel, and new wheel designs. The 2008 GS stands out from earlier versions with its new front fascia design, lower front air intake, new chrome grille surround, new wheels, and a new front bumper. The car is sleek, with a long hood and short trunk lid, giving the impression that it is sitting back on its haunches, ready to pounce.
While the GS 460 is sporty and offers tremendous performance, it maintains an elegant and classy appearance that is neither too cutting-edge nor too stodgy. It is equally at home pulling up in front of a hip lounge or a classy country club. Our test model was finished with a beautiful “Matador Red Mica” paint. This not quite candy apple red shade has incredible depth and a heavy metallic flake in it. In the one week of testing, numerous strangers stopped us in parking lots and at gas stations, all of who commented on the beauty of the GS 460.
Lexus is known for luxurious yet functional interiors. The GS 460 follows this tradition with firm yet comfortable leather seats and a myriad of technologies at the drivers’ fingertips to ensure transportation in style. The electro-chromatic glass covering the instruments is a unique touch, providing good visibility in a variety of lighting conditions. The power rear sunshade helps keep the car cool while parked and keeps the sun off of the necks of rear-seat passengers. The heated and air-conditioned front seats paired with dual zone climate control make sure that the driver and front seat passenger can each have maximum comfort.
Yes, the car is smarter than you are. What is really impressive, however, is how all of these technologies work together so seamlessly and naturally like a technological tour de force that felt like an extension of the driver’s wishes. A cornucopia of acronyms representing a broad range of technologies all fall under the control of what Lexus calls the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. VDIM incorporates and monitors almost everything about the driving experience in the vehicle, including the Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), Electric Power Steering (EPS), Electronically Controlled Brakes (ECB), Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and more.
But, even with all of the features listed about, rather than getting in the way of the driving experience as is true with the majority of ‘innovative’ technologies in some other marques, everything Lexus brings to bear works together in perfect synergy with the driver.
We had only two complaints about the controls. Some commonly-used controls, like the side mirror adjustments, are hidden behind a small panel on the dash by the driver’s knee; we actually had to consult the owner’s manual to find them. And, the voice-command for the navigation, climate, and sound system seemed to have trouble, possibly just because of this reviewer’s Texas drawl. These were minor points, however, and overall, Lexus has done a fantastic job of combining the right mix of features to satisfy a broad range of drivers.
On the practical side, the GS 460 has a plethora of airbags–variable force front, seat-mounted side, knee front, side-curtain front and rear. But, Lexus puts even more emphasis on trying to ensure that these safety features never need to be used by helping the driver avoid crashes altogether. The Pre-Collision system (PCS) is a technological marvel that can help the driver avoid an accident, or, if an accident is unavoidable, help lessen the chances of injury. PCS begins by using a millimeter-wave forward-looking radar to detect obstacles in front of the car, while simultaneously measuring speed, steering angle, and yaw-rate to determine whether a collision is unavoidable. PCS can automatically switch the suspension to sport mode for optimal driving response, pre-tension front seat belts for maximum safety, and pre-initialize the Brake Assist feature so that increased braking will occur the moment the driver touches the pedal.
All Lexus models, including the GS 460, come with a standard 50,000 mile/48 month bumper to bumper warranty, a 70,000 mile/72 month powertrain warranty, and 48 months of roadside assistance. Lexus has a fantastic reputation for reliability, and their confidence in the quality of their vehicles is reflected in these long, by industry averages, terms. If you’re looking at just the safety features coupled with the generous warranties, the Lexus GS 460 proves to be quite a package.
When Lexus entered the U.S. market almost 20 years ago, it faced stiff competition not only from European and American luxury marques, but also in the hearts and minds of American drivers.
Lexus quickly proved that it could compete and be a leader in the U.S. market, and the latest generation of the GS certainly raises the bar for sports luxury sedans to a new level.
Base Price: $53,385.00
As Tested: $61,418.00
Engine and Torque: 4.6 liter aluminum V8; 342 hp @ 6,200 rpm; 339 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic
Wheels and Tires: 18″
Warranty: 4 years/48,000 miles (7 years/70,000 miles powertrain)
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg City/24 mpg Highway
0 – 60 MPH: 5.4 seconds; 0-1/4 mile: 13.9 seconds
Top Speed: 149 mph