Premium midsize car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,200 – $4,800*


1993 Lexus GS 300


1993 Lexus GS 300


1993 Lexus GS 300


1993 Lexus GS 300 interior


1996 Lexus GS 300

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Fuel economy
  • Price
  • Rear visibility

This deft-handling, if expensive, premium sedan is definitely worth a look. But before buying, also consider the BMW 3-Series or 5-Series, Infiniti J30, Cadillac Seville, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class or E-Class. Except for the Seville, all of those are rear-wheel drive, like the GS 300.

Overview

Introduced in spring of 1993 as a late ’93 model, this rear-wheel-drive 4-door sedan slipped right into the spot between the costly flagship Lexus LS 400 and the entry-level ES 300. A 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine made 220 horsepower, driving an electronic 4-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment included dual airbags, antilock all-disc brakes, a power tilt/telescopic steering column, and CFC-free air conditioning with automatic temperature control.

Yearly Updates

1994 GS 300
Nothing of consequence was new for 1994.
1995 GS 300
No change was evident in this year’s GS 300 sedan. As before, only one model was marketed, with only a handful of available options.
1996 GS 300
A new 5-speed automatic transmission went into 1996 models–a first from Lexus. Other changes included new taillights and rear badging.
1997 GS 300
Nothing was new for this generation’s final outing.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

Only one engine was used in the 1993-97 generation: an inline 6-cylinder with dual overhead camshafts, producing 220 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. A 4-speed automatic transmission was installed initially, but a new 5-speed automatic became available for 1996.

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 220
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 210
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic
5-speed automatic
18/23
18/24
17.3

Road Test

Even with the latest 5-speed automatic transmission, the 6-cylinder engine is sluggish off the line, but then pulls strongly and smoothly to deliver brisk acceleration at higher speeds. Passing power is good, and the automatic transmission downshifts quickly out of overdrive. Gas mileage isn’t so great. We averaged 17.3 mpg, and the engine demands premium fuel.

A GS 300 sedan handles adeptly, with a moderately firm ride that’s never harsh. However, it lacks the library-quiet highway ride that’s characteristic of the LS 400 and ES 300. Road noise isn’t a problem, but the suspension and tires “thump” prominently over bumps and ruts.

Leg room is indeed ample all around, but rear head room is limited when the car is equipped with the optional power moonroof. A large driveline hump limits the back seat to two passengers. Large rear pillars and a narrow rear window restrict the driver’s view, hiding the trunk. Although the trunk is wide and flat, it’s too short to hold much, and liftover height is above bumper level. The dashboard layout is similar to that of the LS 400.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Lexus GS 300

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 51

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
109.4 194.9 70.7 55.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.0 21.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.9 35.6 44.0 33.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 GS 300 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 3
60%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 176
Injury 96
Theft 1002

Trouble Spots

Climate control
Description: Because of an intermittent open condition in the temperature-sensor circuit, the ambient temperature display shows -22 degrees (F) and the climate control misbehaves. The display will not change until the fuse for the air conditioning control unit is removed briefly. (1993-95)
Dashboard lights
Description: Due to a problem in the printed circuit, outside temperature reading may report -22F. Removing the fuse for 30 seconds should reset the system. (1995-96)
Oil consumption
Description: Excessive oil consumption caused by sludge buildup on the cylinder heads. Company is extending warranty. (1993-97)
Audio system
Description: Static or electrical noises from the turn signals, brake lights, etc. may be heard through the speakers when listening to an AM radio station due to a poor ground for the radio antenna. (1993-96)
Suspension noise
Description: Clunking noises from the front end on rough roads is caused by the design of the upper shock mount. A redesigned mount and shock are available. (1993-94)

Recall History

1993-94
Description: Spherical portions of certain lower ball joints are not smooth, causing friction that can lead to ball joint separation.
1995-97
Description: Due to inadequate lubrication, excessive wear can cause damage to lower ball joints; separation from steering-knuckle arms could occur.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.