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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.