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To current GS400 owners

4959 Views 19 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  AndyL
To those who are current GS400,

In earlier postings, someone says when switching from "D" to "M", the transmission will be in the 5th gear rather than whatever the gear the car is in when "D" is selected. So yesterday, I finally had the time to test drive a GS400 to verify it.

It did turn out that the claim is true. It will be in 5th gear when "M" is selected.

Besides, everytime when I switched from "D" to "M" AFTER the car is brought to a stop (say at the red light), the system would put the car in 5th gear as well. This is not very convenient nor intuitive.

I remember testing Audi A4, BMW 328ci, and Acura 3.2CL-S and they all put the car in 1st or 2nd gear when you shift from "D" to "M" after the car is stopped.

I wonder when the display shows it's "5" gear, does it really mean it is in 5th gear or there is a differnt interpretation ?

I would appreciate any comments from current GS400 drivers or anyone who knows. It's really a minus if IS300 carries the same logic.

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Oh, I mean to those who currently own GS400.

The car is really in 1st gear but it will top out at fifth gear... This is a safety feature so that when you are driving along and you put the car in Manual mode it doesn't drop to 1st or 2nd automatically and screw up your transmission... If you were at a stop light and wanted a lower gear just push it into M and push the down buttons till the display says "2"... at this point the car will start from first and shift to second and redline until you press the upshift button to let it go to third...

Chris Y.
Hi Chris Y,

thanks for your reply. So how about this scenario : The car is moving in "D" mode and it's actually in the 4th gear at that instant. Then I immediately put the car to "M" mode and it will stay in 4th gear unless pushing the buttons ?

For the stop light scenario, pressing the "down" button 3 times was exactly what I did to make the display show the "2" position.

This is a rather disappointment logic/arrangement coz` it doesn't put the car in 1st or 2nd gear when you need it to be.
hmm, if i recall, i remember the man stopped the IS300, then switched to the e-shift, and it showed a 2 in the box... I could be wrong but i do recall it never starting out in 5th, so what happens if you leave it in 5th at a stoplight, the car cannot start from 5th gear, it has to start in first, so even though it might be showing 5, it has to be starting in 5th, tell me if im wrong, but it doesnt seem logical right?
You're right.. at a stop light if you put it into manual it will show 5 but it will really start in 1st gear and go all the way up to 5. Whenever you switch to manual it will always go to 5 first and you switch from there on using the buttons, it will never start from 4 even if you are in 4th..

Chris Y.
I too am dissapointed in the way this
manu-matic transmission works.

The indicator display really shows
"highest possible gear" rather than
the actual gear. I would much rather
have the display show me what gear the
transmission had chosen. You can figure
out out from speed and rpms, but that
takes a mental calculation.

I wish they could just have a full manual
mode where the buttons would force a particular
gear not just make a suggestion to the
transmission logic.

I drove a Toyota Celica GT-S and
(although I don't recall the details)
I think it was "more manual" than the
Lexus semi-automatic transmission.
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I personally like the E-shift in my GS400 as opposed to the Tiptronic in my sis's Audi A4 2.8 Quattro. The shifts are more immediated compared to the delay on the Tiptronic and Trust me, you'll love the fact the the controls are on the steering wheel. I feel like I'm in an F1 car when I'm upshifting and downshifing with the buttons the on the steering...Believe me, you'll see what I mean and you'll quickly appreciate it....
Hi EricK,

Thanks for your comment. So while the car is moving and you switch from "D" to "M", the display shows 5th gear doesn't mean it's in 5th gear ?

Besides, does the display shows the maximum allowable gear rather than the current gear ?


Exactly Andy, when you shift from D to M and it shows "5" it is actually in the lowest gear. When you are moving at say 60mph and you try to downshift into 2nd gear, it beeps and won't let you downshift (as a safty). One difference I noticed between my sis's tiptronic A4 and the GS400 is that if you don't upshift in the tiptronic (manual mode) it will automatically upshift to the next gear (once it reaches the shift point). In the Lexus however, if you forget to upshift it will hit the rev limiter and won't upshift until you allow it to.... so in that particular case, the E-shift is more manual-like than the Tiptronic...
We don't know for sure if the shift
logic (programming) is the same for the IS300
as for the GS400...

Also, I wonder what RPM it picks for the
1->2 shift when in M-sport mode under
full throttle. EricK, what does your
GS400 do? Does it go all the way to redline
or does it shift at some "optimal" point
around the horsepower peak RPM?
For my GS400, the lowest gear you can select while in "M" mode is 2nd and the shift point from 1->2 is exactly the same as if it were in "Drive".... To answer your question the shift point is a hair below the redline. Actually auto magazines had said that the best way to get optimal acceleration #'s is to leave the car in "D" instead of using the E-shift...
Hi EricK,

Thanks for you explanation. But I do the following questions..

So at the point of switching from "D" to "M" mode, the gear would stay the same ?

And if at this point, I press the "down" button once, then the car would be downshifted to one less gear ?

When you push downshift button
(when the transmission is in M mode)
the indicator on the display will
drop one number (e.g. from 5 to 4).
If the car was currently in 3rd gear
it would not change gears. You could
hit the button again and the display
would say "3"... Still no change in
gear. Then you hit the button ~again~
and it says "2" and (assuming that the
transmission is comfortable with the
RPMs the engine will hit in 2) it will
"drag" the gear down to 2. So basically
it doesn't start downshifting until
you toggle the "max gear" selector below
the current gear.

[ Somebody correct me if I got this wrong!]
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What you said make sense. That's a good explaination of what we have observed about

I think it really takes a while to get used to this counter-intuitive logic. Why don't they make it more user-friendly like what Toyota/Lexus have done to other things ?

Toyota/Lexus usually makes excellent ergonomics and good user interface..

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I believe it is actually quite intuitive BUT one gripe I have with my GS400 is that I wish it would just let me select any gear from 1 to 5 and start and stay in that gear... This way it would be a true automanual..

Chris Y.
Chris Y,

True, it would be good if they could let you choose the 1st gear. I guess they don't want us to screw the transmission up and smear their near perfect reliablity track record.

In fact, Acura has a similar treatment but they let you stay in 1st gear. However, they have put more protection/intervention in place this year. No wonder how many people have screwed their transmission in 99'TL.

For 99' TL, you can stay in 1st gear as long as you want.

For 00'TL and CL-S, however, they let you stay in 1st gear but after a certain rpm threhold, say 3K or 4K, they will automatically switch the car to 2nd gear for you.

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The new system used in the Acura models works in the same fashion as the TIPTRONIC in the Audis. If you forget to shift up from first gear, it will switch up about 200 rpms further than usual. The Lexus system is a lot of fun in the country twisties....
This is always a good topic. The IS300 trans is just like EricK's GS400 but with less torque loads. I will miss the E Shift on the new GS430. The GS300 will get it though. The logic program of the GS trans is pretty interesting because you do the programming by the style of driving and how much throttle you ask for with your foot. If you leave it in the automatic mode and ask for full throttle all the time it will raise the shifting points higher up the rpm scale. If you are gentle with the accel. pedal it will shift sooner to save fuel.
The E shift gives you more control by downshifting but probably won't give you any faster acceleration than the automatic will. My advice is to leave it in M mode all the time on 5 and if you need to tap the front steering wheels at any time for a downshift it's ready to go. You can execute a double downshift faster than a manual as long as your speed isn't too high for the gear selected. It can help you hunker down for a corner and exit with higher revs and then upshift when the road straightens.
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Hi Bernie,

I heard rumors that the E-shifts will be GONE for GS400 coming up (model year 2001, 2002 or after the major change for model year 2003) because owners' survey says it is not a popular or frequently-used feature among current owners.

IS it true ? How come you say you will miss E-shifts in GS430 ? That would be a big mistake if Lexus goes for this decision as their competitors all have this feature (ie. MB E-series, BMW 5-series, potentially Infiniti X30, Q45, etc)


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