- Brisk acceleration from either engine
- Sleek yet somewhat conservative styling
- Plentiful active and passive safety features
- Confidence-inspiring stability and poise
- Steering lacks feedback
- Limited headroom
- Uncomfortable backseat
The 2009 Lexus GS sport sedans wrap edgy performance and top technology into a car that’s very enjoyable to drive but a bit cramped compared to its rivals.
TheCarConnection.com's car editors drove both Lexus GS models in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com has also researched available road tests on the new GS 350 and GS 460 to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other car reviews might differ.
The 2009 Lexus GS models are mid-size sport sedans; unlike the Lexus ES 350, which is more comfort-oriented, the GS 350 and GS 460 are more geared toward performance. Last year, the GS models wore a restyled front end, integrated side-mirror turn signals, and new wheel designs, and the models carry over to 2009 with few new changes.
For 2009, the Lexus GS 460 is powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 producing 342 horsepower, mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the GS gets a 303-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic. With either engine, the GS has brisk acceleration; according to Lexus’ usually conservative numbers, the GS 460 is capable of hitting 60 mph in only 5.4 seconds. Both GS models are rear-wheel drive, while the GS 350 is available in an all-wheel-drive version.
The engines in the 2009 Lexus GS are just as refined and smooth as they are powerful and responsive. Cornering stability is top-notch—even on rough asphalt—thanks to the double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear. The electric-assist steering has great weighting and just the right amount of effort, though it's not as communicative as some other sport sedans.
The electronics on both 2009 Lexus GS models work almost transparently. The Variable Gear Ratio Steering is a complex system that aims to bring quick response at low speeds or when it's needed, as well as stability at high speeds. Furthermore, the system functions with Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), an all-encompassing electronic stability control that wraps it all together, safely.
All that awesome performance, however, is marred by limited headroom inside the cabin and an inadequate backseat. The ride, too, can be rough on gnarled pavement or when crossing train tracks. With a brushed-aluminum shift plate and dark gray bird's-eye maple wood, the appearance of the GS's instrument panel could be considered conservative but very tasteful.
Technology abounds inside the 2009 Lexus GS models. The ventilated seats and adaptive lighting come standard on the 2009 Lexus GS 460, along with the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system, but an intuitive park-assist system and an active stabilizer system—which provides the advantage of a heavier stabilizer bar almost instantaneously without sacrificing ride quality—are among the options. Standard features also include an excellent navigation system, keyless entry, and Bluetooth, but that's not even scratching the surface. Options include an AVS system, which gets four different firmness settings, laser cruise control, adaptive front lighting, ventilated cooled front seats, a power rear sunshade, satellite radio, and a 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system with DVD audio/video capability.
The 2009 Lexus GS 350 and 2009 Lexus GS 460 come with a bit more onboard safety features than expected. Front side bags, side curtain bags, and dual front knee airbags are standard, as are the VDIM stability control system and anti-lock brakes. There are several other electronic aids that may help improve dynamic safety; included with the optional laser cruise control is the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which prepares safety systems for an anticipated collision. The insurance industry-supported IIHS has tested the GS and given it the top "good" rating in both frontal and side impacts, with a "marginal" rating in the seat-based rear-impact test.
2009 Lexus GS 460
The handsome, well-trimmed 2009 Lexus GS is well liked by most reviewers.
The styling of the 2009 Lexus GS is great, if not superior to its competitors.
According to Cars.com, "the GS is more futuristic than its predecessor, touting its long hood and set-back cabin...featuring uncluttered sheet metal, the 2009 Lexus GS 460 has a very short rear deck and wide tapered C-pillars that flow back toward the rear of the car." They also say that "long side glass and a steep back window enhance the 2009 Lexus GS 460's performance image." Additionally, these statements apply to the 2009 Lexus GS 350, which differs only under the hood.
Edmunds assures loyal Lexus owners looking to replace their aging vehicles that the 2009 Lexus GS 350 and 2009 Lexus GS 460 sedans both offer "the same rakish styling." Kelley Blue Book says "the GS brings a legitimate sense of design passion to its sleekly flowing sheet metal that arguably qualifies it as the best-looking Lexus sedan."
Cars.com reports the 2009 Lexus GS 460's interior decor options as such: "perforated leather comes in a choice of three colors...The dashboard is trimmed with genuine bird's-eye maple or California walnut wood." ConsumerGuide, however, is a bit critical: "cabin decor blends high-grade plastics and leather...other trim bits are genuine wood, but the reddish color used to stain those pieces makes them look fake." The GS's instrument panel is quite conservative in appearance, with a new brushed-aluminum shift plate and dark gray bird's-eye maple wood for 2009, while seldom-used controls are kept out of the way in a drawer. Edmunds reports that the 2009 Lexus GS's interior features "genuine wood and aluminum trim complements the rich leather seating surfaces," while Kelley Blue Book praises the "supple leather, brushed aluminum and bird's-eye maple."
2009 Lexus GS 460
The 2009 Lexus GS sedans offer hard-charging power and supple handling with great stability in corners.
The experts at TheCarConnection.com are willing to bet that no one will be disappointed with the performance of either the V-6-powered 2009 Lexus GS 350 or the V-8-powered 2009 Lexus GS 460.
Whether in V-8 or V-6 form, the GS sport sedans have very satisfying acceleration, in TheCarConnection.com’s experience; 2009 Lexus GS 460 models are now capable of hitting 60 mph in only 5.4 seconds, according to Lexus's usually conservative numbers. Cars.com says, "[GS] 350 buyers aren't likely to find the V-6 wanting for power," while ConsumerGuide attests that the 2009 Lexus GS 460's "4.6-liter V8 engine gives GS 460 lots of go." Edmunds reports that the latter engine "produces 342 hp and 339 pound-feet of torque."
ConsumerGuide observes that the eight-speed automatic transmission "changes gears frequently, but [is] smooth overall and a good match to the engine." Edmunds says "it drives the rear wheels through...with automanual shift control"—meaning those who have to do their own shifting can. It was first offered in the LS 460 flagship, with quick downshift responses. Six-cylinder models make do with a six-speed automatic, though. Six-cylinder Lexus GS sedans also may be outfitted with all-wheel drive.
With its slightly smaller engine, the 2009 Lexus GS 350 gets somewhat better fuel mileage; according to Cars.com, mileage estimates for the V-6-powered vehicle are "21/30 mpg (city/highway),” but the EPA lists the vehicle at 19/27 mpg. The 2009 Lexus GS 460 does offer surprisingly good gas mileage for a V-8; EPA estimates are 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, which Edmunds says are "above average compared with other V-8-powered cars in its class."
Both 2009 Lexus GS sedans offer "various supplemental handling assists," according to Kelley Blue Book, and they can "be switched off completely by anyone who really does want to press to the edge of the envelope." One of these is "electronically-boosted variable power steering," which they say is "both quick and precise." Cars.com reports that the 2009 Lexus GS's steering actually "changes the steering ratio for tighter or wider steering depending on the speed of the car." ConsumerGuide acknowledges that "cornering lean is modest, and grip and balance are both good," but while "stopping control is strong...to some testers, the pedal action is either too mushy or too sensitive." Options include an Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system, which gets four different firmness settings.
"Some drivers find [2009 Lexus GS brakes] non-progressive and a bit touchy at first," but the braking system "otherwise stops the nearly 2-ton [2009 Lexus] GS 460 quickly and with reassuring authority,” says Edmunds.
2009 Lexus GS 460
Comfort & Quality
Overlooking the inferior backseat and storage space, the 2009 Lexus GS sedans offer good build quality and a peaceful, quiet interior.
Limited storage and cramped backseats do not detract from the superior comfort of the front seats in the 2009 Lexus GS.
Cars.com reports that the 2009 Lexus GS sedans' "trunk space totals 12.7 cubic feet." ConsumerGuide contends that the lid "swings on noninvasive strut-type hinges, but its small opening makes for awkward loading," and "small-item storage is limited" inside the cabin. The 2009 Lexus GS cabin is nonetheless "luxurious and well-crafted," according to Edmunds, which says that the 2009 Lexus GS 460 is "put together with flawless fit and finish."
Edmunds adds that "the optional navigation system features high-resolution graphics that make it easy to operate at a glance," but "the audio controls lose some functionality as they become integrated into the touch screen"; in addition, "the highly polished wood can reflect glare annoyingly at times, and the control-oriented drop-down dash panel to the left of the steering wheel can get in the way of the driver's exit if left open." ConsumerGuide comments that "one test GS suffered from an annoying dashboard rattle."
Kelley Blue Book says the 2009 Lexus GS 350's "Nicely formed power front buckets are the best seats in the house," acknowledging that "even the 'bucketed' rear bench has sufficient head and legroom to handle a pair of adults and the occasional smaller child in the less-hospitable center spot." Cars.com reports that "up to five can fit comfortably in the 2009 Lexus GS 460's leather seats"; however, Edmunds counters that "though spacious enough for five passengers, it accommodates four more comfortably, as the elevated rear center cushion makes for a tighter fit in the middle position."
ConsumerGuide says that while the 2009 Lexus GS 460 "equals most any class rival for hushed refinement," there is an annoying "coarse-surface tire thrum." Kelley Blue Book, though, gushes that the 2009 Lexus GS 350's "finely crafted cabin always maintains Lexus levels of isolation from wind and road noise."
2009 Lexus GS 460
The 2009 Lexus GS sedan features an extensive list of safety features and earns favorable IIHS ratings.
Those considering the 2009 Lexus GS models will not be left wanting for safety equipment.
The demanding Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2009 Lexus GS its highest rating of "good" in both front and side impact tests. The IIHS tests were performed on a 2006 model, but they're considered applicable to both the 2009 Lexus GS 350 and 2009 Lexus GS 460.
According to Edmunds, the 2009 Lexus GS has "a total of 10 airbags, including front and rear seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags and full-length head curtain airbags...standard [2009 Lexus] GS 460 safety equipment includes antilock brakes with brake assist and stability and traction controls."
Along with a full complement of airbags, reports Cars.com, the 2009 Lexus GS's "optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions...[an] advanced stability system anticipates instability or skidding before it occurs, monitors actual versus intended action, and helps correct problems using a mix of braking, throttle and steering control." Additional optional equipment includes "run-flat tires [and] Lexus Link communications."
"All-around visibility is good despite moderately shallow side and rear windows," due to the fact that 2009 Lexus GS seats are "set fairly high," says ConsumerGuide.
2009 Lexus GS 460
The touch-screen system on the 2009 Lexus GS is a little overwhelming, but the list of other standard features is impressive.
The 2009 Lexus GS 350 and 2009 Lexus GS 460 possess more features than some drivers will know what to do with.
Edmunds notes that the 2009 Lexus GS "comes with a long list of standard amenities that include 18-inch wheels, adaptive HID headlights, automatic dual-zone climate control, 10-way power front seats with heating and ventilation, a sunroof, keyless ignition and a 10-speaker premium audio system." Cars.com reports "a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard" on the 2009 Lexus GS 460, but it's by far not the only standard feature.
According to ConsumerGuide, the touch-screen control system seems as if it "governs too many functions, muddling what should be simple adjustments." It is the one flaw for which TheCarConnection.com takes a point off what might otherwise have been a perfect score for the 2009 Lexus GS.
Audiophiles will be glad to know that a Mark Levinson "surround-sound system with 14 speakers is optional.” Additional 2009 Lexus GS options, according to Edmunds, "include satellite radio, parking assist, rain-sensing wipers [and the] the Active Power Stabilizer suspension system,” and a "7-inch dashboard screen, [which] can work with the optional navigation system," according to Cars.com.