The 2008 Lexus GS comes in three different models, each distinguished by its powertrain. The GS350 is powered by a 303-horsepower V6 engine, while the GS460 has a 342-horsepower V8 engine. At the top of the range is the GS450h, which has a hybrid powertrain combining a 3.5L V6 with an electric motor system, to produce 340 horsepower altogether.
The GS460 can accelerate to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, while the GS450h can get to 60 in 5.2 seconds.
The GS350 has an available all-wheel drive system, but other GS models are rear-wheel drive. The AWD system normally sends 70 percent of engine power to the rear wheels but brings up to 50 percent of power to the front wheels when the conditions warrant. With a planetary-gear differential and wet multi-disc clutch, the torque transfer is very smooth.
The GS450h model's hybrid powertrain is a so-called "full hybrid" system, meaning it can provide electric-only operation at low speeds for short distances to optimize fuel economy. The system recovers some energy to the battery pack, installed in the rear-seat area, when braking or decelerating. The hybrid model carries EPA fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city, 25 highway.
Standard on the GS460 and optional on other models is the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system, which brings four settings ranging from a softer, comfort-oriented mode to a "sport" mode for high-performance driving. On the GS460, there's also an Active Power Stabilizer system, controlled by electronic actuators, that reduces body sway for better control in hard cornering.
All GS models feature standard VDC electronic stability control, but GS460 and GS450h models upgrade to the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system, which seamlessly integrates the long list of standard electronic safety and performance technology--including the anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, and variable-ratio steering--together.
The Variable Gear Ratio Steering on the GS460 is electrically operated, lighter, and more efficient than traditional systems, and it can change the ratio so that response is quick in parking maneuvers yet stable in highway lane changes. The GS460 also has an electronically controlled, "brake-by-wire" system that's backed up with a traditional hydraulic system.
A Pre-Collision System (PCS) is optional. PCS uses radar sensors to detect obstacles in front of the car and, if it determines a collision is unavoidable, it retracts seatbelts, stiffens the suspension, primes the brake assist, and will automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn't respond to warnings. Other standout technology functions on the GS include the Adaptive Front Lighting System, which swivels the headlight beams to better illuminate dark corners, and Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), which uses ultrasonic sensors to detect nearby objects during parking in the direction of steering.
All GS models come with leather upholstery, ten-way-adjustable power seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power rear sunshade, and a ten-speaker sound system with a cassette player and six-CD changer. GS460 and GS450h models come with heated and ventilated front seats, perforated leather upholstery, rear-seat side air bags, rain-sensing wipers, headlamp washers, and the IPA parking system. Interior appointments come in a variety of materials, including Walnut, Dark Gray, or Brown Bird's Eye Maple trim and a variety of leathers.
Major options include a Mark Levinson Premium Audio system, with 330 watts, eleven channels, and the capability to play multi-format, multi-media CDs or DVDs on the included screen, and a DVD-based navigation system with Bluetooth hands-free interface.
For 2008, the Lexus GS gets minor appearance revisions inside and out. Outside, the front fascia, bumper, and lower intake have new styling, and the grille is now surrounded in chrome. Inside, the instrument panel gets a new brushed-aluminum surround, and door switches now are surrounded with wood trim. Light gray leather trim and dark gray wood trim are a new combination available through the model line, and the 450h now has an exclusive interior color, Black Opal Mica with blue highlights.
All models get turn signals integrated into side-view mirrors. The 450h now also gets a VDIM cutoff switch to allow the driver to disengage the electronic stability control system.