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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
GS 350 buyers aren't likely to find the V-6 wanting for power
New 4.6-liter V8 engine gives GS 460 lots of go
4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 342 hp and 339 pound-feet of torque
The 8-speed automatic transmission [is] smooth overall
Whether one prefers the V-6-powered 2008 Lexus GS 350 or the V-8-powered 2008 Lexus GS 460, the experts at TheCarConnection.com wager no one will be disappointed.
The number of cylinders is the only substantial difference between the 2008 Lexus GS 460 and the 2008 Lexus GS 350. Cars.com says, "[GS] 350 buyers aren't likely to find the V-6 wanting for power," while ConsumerGuide attests that the 2008 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." Whether in V-8 or V-6 form, the GS sport sedans have very satisfying acceleration, in TheCarConnection.com’s experience; 2008 Lexus GS 460 models are now capable of hitting 60 mph in only 5.4 seconds, according to Lexus's usually conservative numbers.
Both models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which ConsumerGuide reports "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 guys 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.
The 2008 Lexus GS 460 offers 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 V8-powered cars in its class." Obviously, with its slightly smaller engine, the 2008 Lexus GS 350 does somewhat better; according to Cars.com, EPA estimates for this V-6-powered vehicle are "21/30 mpg (city/highway),” but the EPA lists the vehicle at 19/27 mpg.
The Lexus GS has great stability in corners, even when the road surface turns rough, 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. Both 2008 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 2008 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.
Edmunds says that while "some drivers find [2008 Lexus GS brakes] non-progressive and a bit touchy at first," the braking system "otherwise stops the nearly 2-ton [2008 Lexus] GS 460 quickly and with reassuring authority."
In terms of performance, the 2008 Lexus GS sedans live up to their mission with hard-charging power and supple handling.