cars

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1 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Roadster Engine 4,966-cc SOHC 24-valve 90° V-8. High-pressure die-cast alloy cylinder block, alloy heads. Net power 302 hp @ 5,600 rpm Net torque 339 lb-ft torque @ 2,700–4,250 rpm Compression ratio 10.0:1. Fuel requirement Premium unleaded, 91 pump octane. Fuel and ignition system ME 2.8 engine management. Integrated sequential multipoint fuel injection and phased twin-spark ignition includes individual cylinder control of fuel spray, spark timing/phase and antiknock. Two high-energy ignition coils and two spark plugs per cylinder, with 100,000-mile spark plug intervals. Electronic throttle control. Intake system Magnesium 2-stage resonance intake manifold increases runner length at lower rpm for improved response. Stainless-steel exhaust system with dual chrome finishers. Transmission Electronic 5-speed automatic with driver-adaptive control. Touch Shift allows driver to manually downshift and allow upshifts by nudging the shift lever to the left or right from the Drive position. Driver-selectable winter mode starts vehicle moving in 2nd gear or a special second Reverse gear to help improve takeoff on slippery surfaces. Display in instrument cluster indicates selected gear range and winter/standard mode. Rear axle ratio 2.82:1 * MSRP includes $665 transportation and handling charge and excludes all taxes, title/documentary fees, registration, tags, Mercedes-Benz Dealer prep, labor and installation charges, insurance, optional equipment and accessories, certificate of compliance or non-compliance fees, and finance charges. Actual prices may vary by Dealer. 302 4.97 8 SPORTS $83,800.00
2 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG Cabriolet Engine and Drivetrain Engine AMG-built 5,439-cc SOHC 24-valve V-8. High-pressure die-cast alloy cylinder-block, alloy heads. Net power 342 hp @ 5,500 rpm Net torque 376 lb-ft @ 3000-4,300 rpm Compression ratio 10.5:1 Fuel requirement Premium unleaded, 91 pump octane. Fuel and ignition system ME 2.8 engine management. Integrated sequential multipoint fuel injection and phased twin-spark ignition includes individual cylinder control of fuel spray, spark timing and phase, and antiknock. Two high-energy ignition coils and two spark plugs per cylinder, with 100,000-mile spark plug intervals. Electronically controlled throttle. Intake system Magnesium 2-stage resonance intake manifold increases the intake runner length at lower rpm for improved response. Transmission Electronic 5-speed automatic with driver-adaptive control. Touch Shift allows driver to manually downshift and allow upshifts by nudging the shift lever to the left or right from the Drive position. Display in instrument cluster indicates selected gear range. Driver-selectable winter mode starts vehicle moving in 2nd gear or a special second Reverse gear to help improve takeoff on slippery surfaces. Display in instrument cluster indicates selected gear range. Rear axle ratio 2.82:1 * MSRP includes $665 transportation and handling charge and excludes all taxes, title/documentary fees, registration, tags, Mercedes-Benz Dealer prep, labor and installation charges, insurance, optional equipment and accessories, certificate of compliance or non-compliance fees, and finance charges. Actual prices may vary by Dealer. 342 5.44 8 SPORTS $79,645.00
3 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor Sport Coupe Engine 1,796-cc intercooled supercharged DOHC 16-valve inline-4 with dual balance shafts. High-pressure die-cast alloy cylinder block, alloy heads. Net power 189 hp @ 5,800 rpm Net torque 192 lb-ft @ 3,500 - 4,000 rpm Compression ratio 8.7:1 Fuel requirement Premium unleaded gasoline, 91 pump octane. Fuel and ignition system SIM 4 engine management. Integrated sequential multipoint fuel injection and ignition with individual cylinder control of fuel spray and spark timing. Electronic throttle. Intake system Variable intake and exhaust valve timing. Intercooled supercharger. Manual transmission Fully synchronized 6-speed with clutch-starter interlock. Automatic transmission Optional driver-adaptive electronic 5-speed. Touch Shift allows driver to manually downshift and allow upshifts by nudging the shift lever left or right from the Drive position. Driver-selectable winter mode starts vehicle moving in 2nd gear or a second Reverse gear, to help improve takeoff on slippery surfaces. Display in instrument cluster indicates selected gear range. * MSRP includes $665 transportation and handling charge and excludes all taxes, title/documentary fees, registration, tags, Mercedes-Benz Dealer prep, labor and installation charges, insurance, optional equipment and accessories, certificate of compliance or non-compliance fees, and finance charges. Actual prices may vary by Dealer. 189 1.80 4 SPORTS $25,600.00
4 BMW 530i It's been said that designers are at work on the next generation of BMW's midlevel sedan and wagon, but the launch of those models is a couple years down the line. For 2002, the Sport Premium and Convenience option packages are gone, and an in-dash CD player is newly standard. The 5 Series fits between BMW's smaller 3 Series and its flagship 7 Series sedan. The 5 Series' appearance was freshened for 2001. Base models equipped with a 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine are called 525i, while those fitted with a larger 3.0-liter inline-six are designated 530i. The 4.4-liter V-8 that powers the 540i sedan and wagon was given a boost this year to 290 horsepower. All 5 Series models are rear-drive, have side-impact airbags for the front seats and come with a curtain-type Head Protection System. Side-impact airbags for the rear seats are optional. The high-performance M5 sedan, which is fitted with a 394-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 engine and a six-speed-manual gearbox, also is available. Other 5 Series models may be equipped with either a manual or automatic transmission. Exterior With a 111.4-inch wheelbase, the 5 Series fits into the full-size category by cars.com standards, though some observers consider it a midsize model. At 188 inches long overall, the 5 Series is slightly shorter than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and nearly 9 inches shorter than the Lexus LS 430. In appearance, the 5 Series closely resembles its smaller and larger mates, all of which sport BMW's familiar twin-kidney grille. Interior Seating is provided for five occupants. Front bucket seats have 10-way power adjustment for the driver. Standard equipment on all models includes remote keyless entry, a 10-speaker audio system, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, heated power mirrors and an alarm. The 540i sedan adds such extras as a moonroof, dual-mode automatic air conditioning and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights. Leather upholstery is standard in the 540i and optional in the 525i and 530i, which otherwise come with standard imitation-leather seating. All models can be equipped with an optional split, folding rear seatback and BMW's navigation system. Under the Hood The 525i uses a 184-hp, 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine, while a 225-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six goes into the 530i. Topping the regular lineup, the 540i gets a 4.4-liter V-8 that now produces 290 hp — 8 hp more than last year's engine. Six-cylinder models are available with either a five-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. The 540i comes with a five-speed-automatic or six-speed-manual transmission. The 540i actually costs more when fitted with a manual shift than with the automatic, but stick-shift versions come with a Sport Package that includes 17-inch tires and a tauter suspension. All 5 Series models are rear-drive only, unlike the smaller 3 Series, which offers all-wheel drive as an option. Safety Dual-stage front airbags deploy according to crash severity and whether occupants are buckled up. Side-impact airbags for the front seats and BMW's Head Protection System — which consists of curtain-type airbags that deploy to protect front-seat occupants — are standard. Side-impact airbags and head-protection curtains are optional for the rear seats. Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system that BMW calls Dynamic Stability Control. The optional Park Distance Control detects obstacles to the front and rear of the car while parking it. Driving Impressions BMW manages to mix big doses of both sport and luxury in the 5 Series models. Drivers can expect the precise maneuverability and control of a 3 Series, coupled with quite a few luxuries near the level of the big 7 Series. Although suspensions are undeniably firm, especially if the sedan is fitted with a Sport Package, ride comfort remains pleasant over most pavement surfaces. Performance is reasonably energetic even with the smallest six-cylinder engine, but the V-8 unleashes a veritable torrent of strength for supremely confident highway operation. BMW appears to strive for symmetry in each of its models, so the dashboard and its easy-to-read gauges look about the same, regardless of the size of the sedan. 225 3.00 6 SALOON $39,450.00
5 Rolls-Royce Corniche If price is really no object, and you simply must have a hand-built luxury convertible, there's only one place to turn — to Rolls-Royce and its Corniche. It comes with a sticker price that reaches well past a third of a million dollars. Today's version of the Corniche convertible debuted early in 2000, but it was by no means the first soft-top model of that name from the British automaker. No details on changes to 2002 models have been announced. Bentley, Rolls-Royce's sister marque, also turns out a handful of convertibles each year, under the Azure nameplate. Both the Corniche and Azure are related to Bentley's Continental R coupe. The Azure is structurally similar and costs less than the Corniche, but both are top-end motorcars. For the time being, Bentley and Rolls-Royce retain their original ownership, and production continues in Crewe, England. But this will change on Jan. 1, 2003, when BMW takes over the management of Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen assumes ownership of Bentley. Until then, the company's current owners will produce, sell and service both marques worldwide. Exterior Rolls-Royce and Bentley models differ mainly in the appearance of their grilles, with Rolls displaying a statelier version. In addition, Rolls-Royce is nearly alone in putting whitewall tires on its 17-inch wheels. The Corniche is about 213 inches long and measures a few inches shorter than the Lincoln Town Car. Available in shades to match or contrast with the body color, the flush-fitting power top stows beneath a chrome cover on the rear deck. Interior The Corniche seats four occupants in sumptuous pleasure and simply exudes luxury — just as its predecessors always have. Connolly leather is the same sort used on the seats in the British House of Lords. Power front bucket seats have four-position memory settings, and a remote control unit lets backseat passengers operate the eight-speaker audio system. Despite the use of front bucket seats, the automatic transmission's gearshift lever is mounted on the steering column rather than on the floor. Under the Hood The Corniche runs on a turbocharged, 6.75-liter V-8 engine that produces 325 horsepower and mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Safety Antilock brakes, traction control and automatic ride control are standard. Side-impact airbags are not available. 325 6.75 8 SALOON $370,485.00
6 Jaguar S-Type 3.0 A new S-TYPE Sport edition will be offered for 2002 and comes with either engine and features that include 17-inch low-profile tires, a Computer Active Technology Suspension, a perforated leather-trimmed interior and bolstered sport seats. Voice-activated control of radio station and temperature selection is available and capable of dialing the optional digital cellular phone. Simple voice commands such as “temperature 72 degrees” set the automatic system in operation. All Jaguars come with free scheduled maintenance for the warranty period, which is four years or 50,000 miles. Exterior To create the S-TYPE, Jaguar blended traditional styling cues from the British company's heritage with modern mechanical components from Ford, its parent company. Though the S-TYPE is built from the basic architecture of Lincoln's LS, the kinship is masked by classic Jaguar design elements, including a heavily sculptured hood with a leaping cat ornament, a slim oval vertical-bar grille and four round headlights. In profile and at the rear end, Jaguar cues are also mixed with contemporary lines. Measuring 191.3 inches long overall, the S-TYPE is a few inches shorter than the Lincoln LS and 6.5 inches shorter than Jaguar's XJ8 sedan. Five-spoke alloy wheels are used on V-6 models, while V-8 sedans get 10-spoke alloys. Interior Five occupants can luxuriate in the same rich leather upholstery and warm wood accents that are provided in Jaguar's upper-end models, which carry a long tradition of interior elegance. Reverse parking control is standard. Sensors in the rear bumper detect when the car is getting close to an object at the rear and issue an audible warning. An in-dash, satellite-based navigation system is optional. Under the Hood Although the base engine is essentially the same as the 3.0-liter V-6 in the Lincoln LS, Jaguar supplies its own cylinder heads, intake manifold and other components. As a result, its output is 240 hp rather than the 210 hp offered by Lincoln. The available V-8 is entirely different from Lincoln's engine offering — a 281-hp 4.0-liter power plant that is also installed in Jaguar's XJ Series sedans and the XK8 sports car. Both engines mate with a five-speed-automatic transmission. Safety Traction control, antilock brakes, an electronic stability system and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. An optional Sport Package includes a Computer Active Technology Suspension, which adjusts to firm or soft settings according to how the car is driven 235 3.00 6 SALOON $44,320.00
7 Cadillac Seville A replacement for Cadillac's sporty flagship sedan could arrive as early as 2003. But meanwhile, the Seville carries on with some important improvements. During the 2002 model year, the Seville will get a next-generation MagneRide system to ease the driving experience even further. Replacing the car's continuously variable road-sensing suspension system, MagneRide responds in 1 millisecond and is claimed to be 10 times faster than current systems on the market. An advanced DVD-based navigation system is available, and an XM satellite radio arrives later in the season. The Seville wears revised Cadillac wreath-and-crest badging and gets an extended oil-change interval (beyond the typical three months or 3,000 miles). Serving as Cadillac's primary export model, the front-drive Seville is 201 inches long, which is 6 inches shorter than the DeVille. Cadillac purposely keeps the Seville's body smaller partly because it is the company's main export model, and most European garages cannot hold a larger vehicle. The SLS (Seville Luxury Sedan) comes with a 275-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 engine, while the STS (Seville Touring Sedan) gets a 300-hp version of that engine. A Sport Package for the STS includes 17-inch tires rather than the standard 16-inchers, along with a firmer suspension. The STS features optional voice-operated services such as navigation assistance, downloading and listening to e-mail, and serving as an infrared port for Palm Pilots and other personal digital assistants. As a safety feature, Web-browsing and e-mail capabilities do not function unless the car is stopped. Exterior Not much has changed in the Seville's overall appearance since its last redesign for the 1998 model year. Prior to its redesign, the Seville shared the same platform and basic construction as the Eldorado coupe. Unlike the rounded appearance of the DeVille, the redesigned Seville has a more angular profile. The Seville rides on a 112.2-inch wheelbase and measures 201 inches long overall, which is 6 inches shorter than the DeVille. The Seville is 75 inches wide and less than 56 inches tall. Interior The Seville accommodates five passengers. Front bucket seats are standard and can be equipped with Cadillac's adaptive seating system. Ten air cells in the upholstery change pressure every 4 minutes or so to adapt the seat to its occupant and the way the passenger is sitting. A navigation system with touchscreen controls and a 5-inch color display screen in the dashboard are optional. GM's OnStar communication system is standard and offers two premium services. The Personal Calling system permits hands-free, voice-activated calls from the car without an additional cellular phone contract. And Virtual Advisor, another voice-activated system, provides Internet-based information such as news headlines, sports scores, stock quotes and weather conditions. Under the Hood The Seville's 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 engine comes in two different ratings. It produces 275 hp in the SLS, while a 300-hp version goes into the STS. Both engines can run on regular fuel, but Cadillac recommends premium gasoline for the best performance and fuel economy. Each engine works with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Safety Both Seville models have antilock brakes, traction control and side-impact airbags for the front seats. StabiliTrak, GM's electronic stability system, is also standard. Driving Impressions The Seville has long been considered the sportier-handling Cadillac. A brief drive in a Seville equipped with the latest MagneRide system confirms the sport sedan's road-going credentials. Without impairing handling talents in any perceptible way, MagneRide yields a supremely satisfying highway experience — not quite as cushiony or gentle, but about as smooth as one can expect in an automobile that delivers such impressive control on the road. With either engine, the Seville driver needs just a tap on the throttle to unleash vigorous responses, aided by a smooth-shifting automatic transmission. This car is loaded with technological extras that don't diminish the car's basic attributes. 275 4.60 8 SALOON $49,600.00
8 Cadillac DeVille Cadillac redesigned its full-size front-drive sedan for the 2000 model year by softening its shape and making it the first car to offer Night Vision. Employing infrared, heat-sensing technology, Night Vision projects images of the road ahead and sends them via a head-up display onto the windshield. In its current form, the DeVille has been the best-selling luxury sedan in the U.S. market. An advanced DVD-based navigation system is available for 2002, and an XM satellite radio will arrive later in the model year. The DeVille displays Cadillac's revised wreath-and-crest badging, and this model gains dual-stage airbags and express-up/down front windows. A 4.6-liter V-8 engine produces 275 horsepower in the base and DHS models or 300 hp in the DTS sedan. The DHS and DTS sedans feature optional voice-operated services such as navigation assistance, downloading and listening to e-mail, and serving as an infrared port for Palm Pilots and other personal digital assistants. Web-browsing and e-mail capabilities are disabled unless the car is stopped. Exterior More rounded and bulky in appearance than DeVilles of the recent and distant past, the four-door sedan is 207 inches long overall — about the same length as the Buick Park Avenue and slightly shorter than the Lincoln Continental. Riding a 115.3-inch wheelbase, the DeVille is 74.4 inches wide and 56.7 inches tall. Cadillac does not offer whitewall tires, but some dealers can install a set for buyers who like the traditional look. Interior Regardless of the seating arrangement, DeVilles are known for offering space for taller passengers in the front and rear seats. The backseat has ample legroom even when the front seats are moved all the way back. A split, front bench seat is standard on the base and DHS models. The DTS comes only with front buckets and a floor-mounted shift lever. The DeVille's trunk lid swings open 90 degrees, with a low liftover for easy loading. Cargo volume is 19.1 cubic feet, and the trunk has a wide, flat floor. A foursome's golf bags can fit inside easily. GM's standard OnStar communication system can be fitted with two premium services. Personal Calling allows hands-free, voice-activated calls from the car without an additional cellular phone contract, while Virtual Advisor provides Internet-based information such as news headlines, sports scores, stock quotes and weather conditions through voice activation. With the infrared, heat-sensing technology, the optional Night Vision accessory uses a camera mounted in the grille to let the driver see three to five times farther than the headlamps can reach. Under the Hood The base Deville and DHS are equipped with Cadillac's 275-hp, 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 engine, while the DTS comes with a 300-hp version of that engine. Both power plants can run on regular fuel, but Cadillac recommends premium gasoline for the best performance and fuel economy. Each V-8 works with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Safety Night Vision detects other moving vehicles, humans and animals long before the naked eye can see them. This system alerts the driver by means of a black-and-white head-up display that projects images and sits in front of the windshield. An ultrasonic rear parking-assist system is optional. When the car is in Reverse, four sensors in the back bumper detect objects that are less than 5 feet away and give audible and visual warnings to the driver. Side-impact airbags are standard for the front seats and come as optional equipment for the rear seat positions. The front airbag on the passenger side is designed to protect both the right-front and middle-front passengers. Driving Impressions This is a Cadillac in the old mode, but it comes packed with modern technology and gadgetry. Strong Northstar V-8 performance blends with admirable transmission operation in the smooth-functioning powertrain. Downshifts are prompt and certain, yet smooth and nearly gentle. From a standstill, the DTS practically leaps ahead, responding almost as effectively for passing and merging. But at certain speeds, response is a little less vigorous. The DeVille handles with a light touch but doesn't feel as taut as some competitors, especially among the import brands. The easygoing, genteel ride isn't as woozy or floaty as Cadillacs of the past, though the driver may not feel entirely connected to the road at all times. The DeVille may seem as if it isn't fully in charge when the pavement is flawed. Many typical Cadillac owners won't find this to be a problem at all. The DeVille promises plenty of room for people and cargo in a handsome interior. The seats are big and relatively soft, yet they're reasonably supportive. The dashboard instruments in the DTS are exceptionally easy to read. Engine noise is blissfully subdued and muted, and other sounds are minimal. Visibility is generally good, though the back window is a tad squat and massive rear roof pillars might limit the driver's view for parking and lane changes. The huge trunk has an easy liftover. 275 4.60 8 SALOON $47,780.00
9 Lexus LS430 Redesigned for 2001 with more aerodynamic styling and a bigger V-8 engine than the previous LS 400, the full-size, rear-drive flagship sedan from Toyota's luxury division gets only a single new color, Platinum Blue Pearl, for 2002. The 4.3-liter V-8 makes 290 horsepower and teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission. Lexus first entered the American market in 1990 with its LS 400, which was redesigned for 1995 and is now in its third generation as the LS 430. Rivals in the luxury league include the Audi A8, BMW 5 Series and 7 Series, Infiniti Q45, Jaguar XJ8 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class. In addition to its abundant standard equipment, the LS 430 can be equipped with such additional comfort features as heating and cooling elements for the front seats, an air-suspension system with adaptive shock-absorber control, and reclining and heated rear seats with a massaging mode. It can also be equipped with the Lexus Link communication system, which is essentially General Motors' OnStar communication service but is staffed by Lexus personnel. Even with a hefty base price of $54,980 (including the destination charge), adding some of those extras can cause the final cost of the LS 430 to escalate sharply. Chrome 17-inch wheels add $1,800 to the sticker. A navigation system, heated seats and a power moonroof — all part of an option package — add up to nearly $4,000. Buyers who can afford even more can opt for the $12,485 Ultra Luxury Package, which includes such convenience features as the navigation system, Lexus Link, a Mark Levinson premium sound system, front and rear “intuitive” ultrasonic parking assist, laser-based cruise control that maintains a set distance from the vehicle ahead, and power trunk and door closers. Getting all these options means you're talking real money. Lexus' DVD-based navigation system operates via voice control or a dashboard touchscreen. Exterior Riding a 115.2-inch wheelbase, the LS 430 measures 196.7 inches long and 72 inches wide. In contrast to its LS 400 predecessor, which had a softly rounded profile, the LS 430 styling is more chiseled and muscular-looking — a bit suggestive of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Lower bodyside cladding, high-intensity-discharge headlights and fog lamps are standard. Lexus claims that with the available air suspension, its top sedan has a 0.25 coefficient of drag (a measure of a vehicle's resistance to the air through which it passes), which is the lowest of any sedan sold today. A Euro-tuned sport suspension with 17-inch low-profile tires is optional. Interior Leather upholstery and genuine wood trim are standard in the five-passenger interior. Convenience features include a 14-way power driver's seat, a 10-way adjustable power front passenger seat and memory operation for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel. An in-dash six-CD changer is standard. Under the Hood Working with a five-speed-automatic transmission, the 4.3-liter V-8 engine produces 290 hp and 320 pounds-feet of torque. Lexus claims the LS 430 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. A “smart” throttle system called Intuitive Powertrain Control is supposed to smooth acceleration from a standstill. Safety Antilock brakes, traction control, an electronic stability system, side-impact airbags for the front seats, and curtain-type airbags for both the front and rear are standard. A dual-stage front airbag is used on the passenger side. Driving Impressions Tucked into the LS 430 — with a stunning load of additional gadgetry available for extra dollars — is about as much luxury as a reasonable person could ever want. More importantly, the top Lexus delivers all-around excellence in ride, performance, stability, maneuverability and bountiful interior space. On the road, the suspension seems to be thinking instantaneously ahead, making excellent judgments about the best way to cope with the next bump. The result is not a cushiony, gliding ride, but rather a highly controlled yet soothingly smooth experience. Performance is practically startling for a car of this weight. Just touch the gas pedal, and you're moving out in a big hurry. Passing and merging don't trigger a shred of concern, because the energetic V-8 is ready and waiting to be called upon. In town and on the highway, the LS 430 is very easy to drive; it steers with a relatively light touch but full control. While driving, the sedan doesn't feel particularly oversized. This car is quiet, but it's not eerily silent. Even though the LS 430 lacks the sporty behavior of a BMW or the stern demeanor of a Mercedes-Benz, it can persuade its owner to keep on driving. 290 4.30 8 SALOON $54,900.00
10 Lexus GS 430 Not much has changed for the largest pair of sporty rear-drive sedans from Toyota's luxury division, apart from enhancements to the optional DVD-based navigation system. For the 2001 model year, the GS 400 received a new 300-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-8 engine that changed its name to the GS 430. The GS 300 uses a 220-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder power plant. Both engines team with a five-speed-automatic transmission. Lexus also offers a sporty but smaller IS 300 series. Slotted between the less-expensive ES 300 and IS 300 midsize sedans and the flagship LS 430, the GS duo competes against such models as the Acura RL, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Exterior Eye-catching styling includes a four-headlight front end, a sloping rear roof and a tall tail. This profile helps give the GS a distinctive appearance, which looks more European than Japanese in origin. The GS measures 189.2 inches long, which is 2 inches shorter than the newly redesigned ES 300 and 7.5 inches shorter than the LS 430. Riding a 110.2-inch wheelbase, the GS sport sedans are 70.9 inches wide and 56.7 inches tall. High-intensity-discharge headlights are standard on the GS 430 and optional on the GS 300. Interior Like that of most sport sedans, seating for five occupants is standard. Space is decent for four adults, who enjoy such decorative touches as California walnut trim. Cloth bucket seats have dual 10-way power adjustment, and leather upholstery is optional. A memory feature for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel is standard in the GS 430 and optional in the GS 300. Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, California walnut wood interior trim, an anti-theft immobilizer system, a 215-watt seven-speaker sound system, heated mirrors, illuminated keyless entry and a power tilt/telescoping steering column. The driver faces a bright electronic gauge cluster. Options include a premium Mark Levinson audio system and the DVD-based navigation system. Under the Hood The GS 430 is the performance leader, with its 4.3-liter V-8 that cranks out 300 hp and 325 pounds-feet of torque. The less-potent GS 300 uses a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that generates 220 hp. Both engines team up with a five-speed-automatic transmission that includes E-Shift steering-wheel switches for manually selected gear changes on the GS 300. Lexus claims 0-to-60-mph acceleration times of 5.8 seconds for the GS 430 and 7.8 seconds for the GS 300. Safety Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and curtain-type airbags for the front seats are standard. The front passenger's airbag does not deploy if that seat is unoccupied. Daytime running lights, antilock brakes and Vehicle Skid Control — an electronic stability system — are standard. Brake Assist applies maximum braking force when it senses a hard push on the brake pedal. Driving Impressions The shapely GS 300 provides nearly all the virtues of the more costly GS 430 without a bothersome penalty in performance. The 3.0-liter engine is strong enough to satisfy most drivers. Easygoing ride comfort, spaciousness, luxury appointments and handling skills are top-notch in both versions, so the GS 300 owner will not feel slighted. The GS 300 takes off from a standstill with vigor and is no less brisk for passing and merging. Automatic-transmission gear changes are nearly transparent, with downshifts arriving promptly and gently. Steering with a relatively light touch, the GS 300 maneuvers briskly and easily. Body lean in swift curves is not absent, but it is seldom noticed in ordinary driving; the GS 300 corners like a breeze. Except when accelerating hard, the engine is nearly silent. The seats are attractive, comfortable and supportive, and they offer plenty of headroom in the front and rear. Legroom is excellent up front and adequate in the backseat. But because of the tall driveshaft tunnel you get from rear-wheel drive, the passenger in the center rear position isn't likely to enjoy utmost comfort. 300 4.30 8 SALOON $41,242.00