10.21.2009

Lexus GS 460 Review



Think you've seen that car before? Well, you're right. The Lexus GS460 has been around quite a while now.

Want proof? Look on the instrument panel.

There...where the audio controls are.

Volume knob...tuning knob....memory buttons...CD slot.

Cassette deck.

Yes, cassette deck. There. Behind the gear shift.



Actually, it's kind of cool...made me want to dust off the old mix tapes during the week I had the car...but it's a serious indicator that it's time for some freshening.

There's nothing wrong with the GS, which is now in its fifth year since its last redesign...but it plays in a segment where innovation is a selling point. The base price of the GS 460 is $53,470. The tester I drove, with Mark Levison audio, Navigation, rear camera,/ rear spoiler (why?), power rear sunshade, trunk mat, Illuminated door sills (again, why?), XM Satellite Radio and delivery charges, bottom-lined at $59,443.

These days $557 shy of 60 large fairly demands compelling reasons for the expenditure...and while the GS is a nice ride, it's so quiet and so familiar that its sales strategy seems to be just hoping you'll just decide you like it that much all on your own.

And like every perfectly nice guy who wanted the prom queen to fall in love with him, that trick rarely works.

EPA estimate: 17 city/24 highway.

UPDATE: A night's sleep (okay, 3 hours) tells me I'm damning with faint praise here. Let me clarify.

The GS 460 is one of the nicest sedans I've driven in a long time. Smooth, quick, comfortable and confidence-inspiring. It made me feel like a better driver, and kept me fresher longer than most.

My concern (especially given that there's not a ton of promotion for it) is that it's going to get passed by...that five seasons without a significant re-do makes it invisible on the street and that anachronisms like the cassette player could brand it as last century's car for the few buyers out there still looking to spend $60,000 on a sedan.

It's well worth the test drive. I'd be perfectly happy with one in my driveway for the next five years. And my cassettes would feel less neglected.

No comments: