Lexus

Lexus For 1998

By Carey Russ

The word for 1998 at Lexus is "muscle." Lexus has always been known for luxurious refinement, and that hasn't changed. Now, though, with the adoption of continuously-variable valve timing technology in the LS, GS, and SC lines, add serious performance to the Lexus equation. Coming in the spring is a new midsized sport-utility vehicle, the RX300.

GS300 and GS400

The new GS400 takes its place as the performance sedan of the Lexus line, with its sibling GS300 right behind. Both are built on a brand-new platform. While their styling is similar to that of the old GS300, only the battery type, basic front suspension components, and the GS300 crankshaft carry over from before.

The GS400 is powered by a new generation of the Lexus 4.0- liter V8. Much of the engine is brand new, and continuously-variable valve timing helps give it 300 horsepower and massive torque at all engine speeds, and slightly better fuel economy than the old GS300. The new GS300 has an improved 225-horsepower version of the Lexus inline 6-cylinder engine, which also uses continuously-variable valve timing.

Both GS models are of a front-engine, rear-wheel drive, and use a 5-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission. The GS400 features "E-shift" mode, in which shifting can be controlled manually by means of buttons on the steering wheel. Both the GS400 and GS300 have the Vehicle Skid Control system for enhanced traction as standard equipment.

Although the new GS is slightly shorter than its predecessor, it has more interior and trunk room. And, being Lexuses, both models are luxuriously equipped.

LS400

Lexus made its reputation with the LS400 luxury sedan, and has continuously improved it since its introduction. Although the second generation LS made its debut only three years ago, the 1998 model has major revisions. All sheetmetal in front of the windshield is new, as are the grille, headlights, and bumper fascia. Under the restyled hood are the same 4.0-liter V8 and 5-speed automatic transmission as in the new GS400. Different tuning gives 290 horsepower, and an electronic throttle control system is featured.

The LS400's suspension has been recalibrated for sportier handling with no compromise in ride comfort. The Vehicle Skid Control system is standard equipment.

Inside, the Lexus luxury standard has been raised even higher, with more than 20 new interior features and an even quieter environment. An optional global positioning satellite-aided navigation system is available.

SC300 and SC400

The Lexus coupes were restyled last year. This year, the new engines and transmission also used by the GS sedans are to be found inside. The GS400 has the new V8, and the GS300 uses the new inline six. Both have enhanced interiors as well.

ES300

The second generation of the most popular Lexus made its debut last year. Following the Lexus philosophy of continuous improvement, it has reduced-power front airbags and side-impact airbags, and an optional Nakamichi premium audio system for 1998.

LX450

The Lexus of sport-utility vehicles remains unchanged for 1998.

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