What it is: The GS is the Lexus mid-sized sedan that does battle with the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class and was most recently redone for the 2015 model year. Lexus has shed its old-school image and has started to apply an extremely aggressive design language with numerous sharp edges and a gaping mouth of a grill. It’s a love it or hate it choice that I think looks best in the slightly revised F Sport version.
The F Sport package is only a $1,365 premium and well worth the extra money. You get the revised front and rear fascias and grille, summer-only tires, a sport-tuned suspension with Sport S+ driving mode, 14-inch diameter front brake rotors, rear lip spoiler and a few other minor visual adjustments. You get the same 311 horsepower V6 found in the regular GS 350, but a sportier driving experience is achieved. To be fair, this isn’t and wasn’t intended to be a rocket ship, but there’s enough oomph there to get your blood pumping.
I do absolutely love the interior. The F Sport trim comes with an aluminum trim which you can pair with black, brown or red leather. My test model came with the red leather which I find quite striking. A large 12.3-inch display dominates the middle of the dash and provides you with navigation information and the rest of your infotainment needs. It’s controlled not by touch, but with a selector next to the gear selector that may be best described as a joystick. I find it enjoyable, but I can easily see the less tech-savvy crowd having difficulties.
The interior was equipped with a few options including a color heads-up display ($900), a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system ($1,380), and a F Sport steering wheel ($150). All definitely worth the price of admission. Other options include one-touch power trunk ($400), premium triple beam LED headlights ($1,160), four-wheel steering ($1,700), orange brake calipers ($300), and intuitive park assist ($500). The trunk and park assist should be standard on a car of this caliber. Four wheel steering is interesting but doesn’t seem worth the price to gain some extra turning radius. The orange brake calipers look completely out of place and very silly.
The driving experience is about what you would expect from a Lexus until you flip the car into Sport or Sport +. The suspension and steering both tighten and the computer will help hold the engine higher in the rev range to keep more power at the ready. Certainly not breaking any new ground here.
MPG: 22 combined/19 city/27 highway.
Price: $52,060 base GS 350 F Sport. $59,545 as-tested.
Upsides: Good value for the segment. Beautiful interior.
Downsides: People are going to ask about why you have orange brake calipers.
Wrap-up: In summary, I did really enjoy the GS. I’ve driven the “actual” sports version; the GS F before that has 150 more horsepower, and I think this version is the one I would buy. I would skip the four-wheel steering and the aforementioned orange brake calipers, but this car was equipped the way I would recommend it. The red interior is both luxurious and sporty, and as long as you like the front grille then nothing else about the visual appeal of the car will sway you away. Lexus may not have the panache of BMW or Audi, but they are certainly making an effort to get there.