2011 Lexus GS 460 Overview
Sure, Toyota’s been busy fending off accusations of inadvertently killing its consumers with self-accelerating cars, so maybe that’s why we still don’t have a new Lexus GS 460. Rumors have circulated for a few years now that a new GS is ready to arrive, but in 2011 all we see in the way of upgrades and improvement is a new brake-override system to address said accusations.
In their particular vein of luxurious simplicity, Lexus presents the GS 460 in one trim level with a single drivetrain option. Powered by a 4.6-liter V8, from which the vehicle gets its name, the RWD GS 460 comes exclusively with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The all-aluminum Toyota UR engine utilizes variable valve timing for its quad-cam system with traditional timing chains for operation, rather than the belts used in the engine of the GS 460’s predecessor, the GS 430.
While a powerful and smooth engine, the 4.6 offers less power than is common for the segment, which can hold it back in the eyes of consumers. 342 hp is a stout output regardless of the competition, especially with 339 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm, but with rivals all pushing toward or exceeding the 400 mark, the difference is noticeable. The 8-speed automatic is similarly a smooth and precise offering, but with no manual choice it leaves many wondering if the GS 460 can truly be considered a sport sedan.
The same can be said of the suspension, which is adjustable for Normal and Sport modes. While Normal mode boasts a comfort-oriented ride, it can still be a bit stiff, especially compared to European rivals who better manage to blend performance and pleasure. Sport mode firms things up significantly and announces every single break and bump you pass over. There’s also an optional Power Active Vehicle Stabilizer system, which mitigates body roll through active adjustment of the sway bars. The steering seems to fall victim to the same ailments, with a neutral feel and light touch that manage to avoid any actual inspiration toward playful fun.
Lexus has not been known to skimp on luxury, especially when it comes to interior materials and finish. However, as the GS 460 has aged and as its replacement has been put off, the overall design has begun to show some wrinkles and limitations. Touchscreen technology feels previous gen, and that’s indicative of the entire package. It’s not that it feels cheap or poorly constructed, it just feels like it’s from a generation ago. The major complaint you’ll hear, however, is the lack of space for taller drivers. In a midsize sport sedan, it’s an issue that shouldn’t be so prominent, but it’s a concern in front and rear seats. Taller drivers will also have to deal with some switchgear being in the way of their knees, especially with the controls for the mirrors, trip computer and fuel door deployed.
That seems to be the story for the entire 2011 GS 460 package - something is just out of place. Luxury is there, but ergonomics are askew. You get a powerful, refined engine, but one that simply can’t compete with rivals. You can have uninspired comfort from the suspension, or brutal rigidity. When things get this twisted, it’s time to pay attention to everything. The question is whether or not Lexus is paying attention.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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