5 Reasons the Second-Gen Lexus GS Is an Excellent Used Luxury Starter Car

The used car market is still crazy, but there are plenty of deals that can be found if you break out your classified magnifying glass. Upon closer inspection, you could find a hidden in the second-generation Lexus GS. Yes, this version of Lexus’ mid-size sedan is old, and many you’ll find will have plenty of miles on the clock. But here are five reasons the second-gen GS could be the luxury starter car you have been looking for.

1. The second-generation Lexus GS is under-valued

A front view of the 2002 Lexus GS 300 in the desert.
A front view of the 2002 Lexus GS 300 in the desert. | Lexus

Although Lexus vehicles hold their values well over time, the second-generation GS is a pretty old platform. This vintage of the GS was produced from 1998 to 2005, so we’re talking about a car that’s over 20 years old. As such, you can currently find 2005 Lexus GS examples in really good condition for a little over $10,000 nationwide.

Want to spend only $5,000? No problem! There are plenty of GS models selling for that much around the country as well. However, they all may have over 150,000 miles on the odometer.

2. The Lexus GS 430 was quicker than you might expect

A front view of the 2002 Lexus GS driving on a canyon road.
A front view of the 2002 Lexus GS driving on a canyon road. | Lexus

Before Lexus and other automakers started piping in fake exhaust noises into the cabin, their cars made real V8 sounds you could enjoy with the windows rolled down. As in the case of the GS 400 and later GS 430, both of which had a 1UZ V8 engine under the hood. According to MotorTrend, the GS 430’s 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque rating could motivate the car up to 60 mph from a standstill in less than 5 seconds.

Its brakes could also slow it back to a stop in just 108 ft, which was a shorter stopping distance than an equivalent Corvette Z06. Since we’re talking about engines, it’s worth noting that the GS 400 had a 4.0-liter V8, while the 430 had a 4.3-liter with 15 extra pounds of torque.

The GS 300, on the other hand, was powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six dubbed the 2JZGE, which was the non-turbo version of the Supra engine. That powerplant made 225 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, but an aftermarket turbocharger could make that power rating much larger.

3. Like all Lexus models, it’s reliable

Although the second-generation Lexus GS is an old car, you can still plan on it being dead-on reliable. Many current GS owners on Cars.com claim to have nearly 200,000 miles on their cars with only a few issues. Some of the major issues include oil burning and some leaks. However, that’s to be expected in any car with a lot of age and miles under its belt.

4. The interior is handsome and well-appointed

A front view of the interior in the 2002 Lexus GS.
A front view of the interior in the 2002 Lexus GS. | Lexus

Sure, the second-gen Lexus GS’ interior might look super old compared to any car made in 2022 – but it still looks pretty handsome. There’s comfortable seating for up to four adults as the transmission tunnel makes the rear middle seat almost unusable. Aside from the leather and other soft-touch materials, the Lexus GS was available with a touchscreen infotainment system, onboard navigation, a CD changer, and a tape deck. Yes, a tape deck.

5. It still looks good

A rear driving view of the 2002 Lexus GS 300.
A rear-driving view of the 2002 Lexus GS 300. | Lexus

Looks are subjective, but we still think that the second-gen Lexus GS looks good. Its predecessor’s design was penned by Italdesign Giugiaro, and the second generation further evolved it. What resulted was a smoother, rounder look with headlights that interestingly matched the tail lights. Again, it may not look as good as the Lexus models in the current lineup, but the second-generation GS was slightly ahead of its time.

The 1998-2005 Lexus GS makes a good luxurious first car

If you’re trying to circumvent the astronomical prices of today’s used car market, then the second-gen Lexus GS is worth a look. Its low entry price, powerful engine, and good looks inside and out make it a prime candidate for anyone that wants to get into their first luxury car without breaking the bank.

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