Advertised upon its release as “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” the Lexus GS 400 proved that a Japanese import car could stand with the best that European car makers had to offer. The BMW 5 Series may frolic a bit more and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class may have the classy name, but this entry into the sport sedan market held its own because of the Lexus staples of luxury and dependability.
Borrowing all that was exceptional about the Toyota Aristo and Crown models and adding new technological innovations, the GS 400 hit the market in 1997 and the first generation had a very respectable three-year run. With a 4.0-liter V8 engine kicking out 300 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, the GS 400 used variable valve timing for additional power and fuel efficiency. This truly outstanding car was only offered with a five-speed automatic transmission that included manual upshift and downshift buttons on the steering wheel. The transition from gear to gear was smooth and designed for the ultimate everyday driving experience.
As with all Lexus vehicles, interior luxury was insisted upon by the engineers who created this beauty. More than ample legroom in the front, slightly less than ample in the backseats, plush seating and excellent visibility, all add up to driving comfort and a feeling that the drivers and passengers are people of quality who deserve the best. Traction control, Vehicle Skid Control, computer electronics that you would expect from a Japanese import, all there at a base price of around $38,000, a bargain in the luxury sedan market.
Remember that this is a Lexus, and as with all Lexus models comfort and luxury take precedence over sporty and thrill-seeking. Front and side airbags were a standard feature in the Lexus GS400, assuring that the driver and passengers had a feeling of safety while enjoying an incredibly quiet and smooth ride.
Changes have occurred since the first GS 400 hit the market, new generations with name changes have come with regularity since 1997, but the standard of excellence has remained the same over the years. Since 1997 car owners have come to realize that the Lexus name has every bit as much credibility as Mercedes-Benz or BMW and that is a tribute to the folks at Toyota and Lexus for insisting that each vehicle they make is a shining credit to the company name. The Lexus GS 400 may not have been “wicked” in the sense originally planned, but it certainly was wickedly luxurious and wickedly dependable.