2009 Lexus GS 460 Review


2009 Lexus GS460 (select to view enlarged photo)
2009 Lexus GS460
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2009 Lexus GS 460Luxury meets performance meets high tech in the Lexus GS 460, the Japanese manufacturer's entry at the premium end of the mid-luxury segment. That's a part of the automotive marketplace dominated by the Germans, and the GS meets them on equal ground for ability while offering its own character.

The V8 choice in the GS lineup has been "460" since last year, denoting a larger engine. The former 4.3-liter, 300-horsepower powerplant was exchanged for one of 4.6 liters and 342 horsepower, now matched to the eight-speed automatic transmission first seen in Lexus's premium LS. That combination not only increases performance, it also improves fuel economy. The EPA highway rating is 24 mpg; during my test week I regularly saw that -- in real highway driving at real highway speeds, not a simulated 50 mph on a dyno -- and often saw more. That's with first-class acceleration, braking, and handling abilities on top of the expected -- and delivered -- Lexus-class interior comforts.

Technology, both electronic and mechanical, for performance, handling, and safety, is an integral part of the GS's character. Adaptive variable suspension (AVS) allows the driver a choice between a more American soft luxury ride or Euro-oriented firmness -- or the car will select damping it considers appropriate, with a comfort orientation that can quickly be firmed up for optimum response if a quick maneuver is initiated. The Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management System (VDIM) integrates sensor input from and control of various steering, braking, and engine systems for enhanced safety, and adaptive front lighting points the 460's headlights in the direction of travel in corners for improved driver vision. Options including active stabilizers, the Pre-Collision System (PCS), Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), and a backup camera included with the navigation system add further control and safety. And then there is the available Mark Levinson audio system... Mechanically, the eight-speed automatic allows both performance and economy.

My week with the GS 460 involved more than the usual amount of highway driving, but that was no problem. The GS is ideal for covering distance, in comfort. As a bonus, traffic on the main road meant a detour via the old road through the mountains, a pleasure in this car. It has the quiet and comfort expected of a Lexus, with the power and handling expected of any luxury sports sedan. It also returned 25mpg on that tank of premium unleaded, with little care on my part for fuel conservation. An impressive performance, in all parameters.

APPEARANCE: Mid-product cycle changes are a fact of life in the auto industry, and the GS is a good example. Look closely. Lexus didn't want to damage anything -- after all, the current GS is the progenitor of the "L-Finesse" look -- but a little freshening was in order. So the front got a new bumper, flatter for better aerodynamics, and the grille gets new chrome trim. The outside mirrors now incorporate auxiliary turn signals, and the standard wheel designs have been changed. The muscular but not muscle-bound shape shows continuity with all of its predecessors, and is distinctive and immediately recognizable, something all too rare in today's automotive styling.

COMFORT: There has been some minor change of detail inside as well as out, with revisions to the instrument panel, brushed aluminum trim around the shift lever, and new wood trim materials. One of those is dark-stained bird's-eye maple, with light gray leather, and that was the interior combination in my test car. With darker material on the top of the dash and doors, it's a classic Lexus interior, bright, open, and spacious-looking. That look is no illusion, as both front and rear passengers have plenty of room. Appointments are to the expected high level, meaning power everything, "Smart Access" keyless push-button access and starting, excellent seat comfort, with the fronts both heated and cooled, and simple, easy-to-use cabin systems. With the optional Mark Levinson audio and navigation system, climate, information, and AM/FM/optional satellite radio/6CD/auxiliary/cassette(!) audio systems are all controlled through the touch screen in the center stack. No worries, it's simple and intuitive in a manner that has so far escaped the German competition. The outboard rear seats offer good leg and head room, with plenty of width for two. A high central tunnel and matching central seat cushion mean that position is best-suited for smaller people and short distances. Trunk space is adequate if not generous.

SAFETY: To all of the expected passive safety devices, including front, side, knee, and side curtain airbags, and active safety enhanced by VDIM, the Lexus GS adds its ``Omni Directional Compatibility Body Structure'' (ODBCS) that surrounds occupants with controlled-crushable front, rear, and side zones. The optional ``Pre-Collision System'' (PCS) uses a radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car and computerized systems to quicken the car's reflexes if a collision is deemed imminent.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Performance driving requires firm spring and shock settings to minimize weight transfer from acceleration, deceleration, and cornering. A luxury ride requires softer settings for comfort. In the GS 460, both requirements are met. The suspension design incorporates both anti-lift and anti-squat geometry to handle fore-and-aft weight transfer. The driver can select ``normal'' or ``sport'' modes for the AVS variable-damping shocks. ``Sport'' is a touch firmer, and still quite comfortable. Electric power steering uses a DC motor, not hydraulics, to assist steering. It eliminates an engine-driven hydraulic pump, saving fuel, and is integrated with the Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) system, which varies steering ratio depending on vehicle speed and speed of steering input. The steering effort is moderately light, but never too light, and the brakes are first-rate. Braking is electronically-controlled -- pedal pressure is translated to digital signals to the VDIM system, then back to pressure on the brake cylinders, with anti-lock, brake assist, and electronic brake-force distribution functions.

PERFORMANCE: Improvements to both the engine and transmission have made a very good car a great car. The V8 GS started life with a 4.0-liter, 300-horsepower engine, later upgraded to 4.3 liters with the same horsepower but a little more torque. The recent increase to 4.6 liters improves horsepower to 342 (at 6200 rpm), and torque to 339 lb-ft at 3600 rpm. VVT-i variable cam phasing on both intake and exhaust camshafts and combination direct and port fuel injection expand the range of power, and helps reduce emissions to ULEV-II levels. Similarly, the original five-speed automatic transmission became a six-speed, and now an eight-speed, with overdrive in seventh and eighth and a high 2.937:1 rear axle ratio for relaxed and fuel-efficient highway cruising. Combine them, and the result is impressive power and acceleration -- 0-60 in 5.4 seconds if desired, so even the shortest highway on-ramp is no problem -- and impressive fuel economy in daily driving.

CONCLUSIONS: The 2009 Lexus GS 460 is a high-tech luxury/performance masterpiece.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2009 Lexus GS 460

Base Price			$ 53,320
Price As Tested			$ 58,785
Engine Type			dual overhead cam 32-valve aluminum
				 alloy V8 with VVT-i
				 variable cam phasing 
Engine Size			4.6 liters / 281 cu. in.
Horsepower			342 @ 6200 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			339 @ 3600 rpm
Transmission			8-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length		112.2 in. / 190.0 in.
Curb Weight			3,945 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		11.5
Fuel Capacity			18.8 gal.
Fuel Requirement		91 octane unleaded premium gasoline
Tires				245/40R18 93V Dunlop SP Sport 5000 m+s
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc,
				 ABS, BA, VSC standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent double wishbone /
				  independent multi-link
Drivetrain			longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		17 / 24 / 25
0 to 60 mph				5.4  sec


OPTIONS AND CHARGES

Mark Levinson Audio/Navigation System Package
includes: Levinson audio, voice-activated DVD 
navigation system with backup camera, intuitive
parking assist, power rear sunshade, rear spoiler,
rain-sensing wipers and headlight cleaners	$ 4,640
Destination Charge				$ 825

Get complete specifications on these vehicles:

Complete specifications on these and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

Home | Buyers Guides By Make | New Car Buyers Guide | Used Car Super Search | Total New Car Costs | New Car and Truck Reviews
Automotive News | TACH-TV | Media Library | Discount Auto Parts

Copyright © 1996-2014 The Auto Channel. Contact Information, Credits, and Terms of Use. These following titles and media identification are Trademarks owned by The Auto Channel, LLC and have been in continuous use since 1987 : The Auto Channel, Auto Channel and TACH all have been in continuous use world wide since 1987, in Print, TV, Radio, Home Video, Newsletters, On-line, and other interactive media; all rights are reserved and infringement will be acted upon with force.

Privacy Statement | Size Does Matter | Media Kit | Affiliates

Send your questions, comments, and suggestions to Editor-in-Chief@theautochannel.com.

Submit Company releases or Product News stories to submit@theautochannel.com.
Place copy in body of email, NO attachments please.

To report errors and other problems with this page, please use this form.

Link to this page: http://www.theautochannel.com/