2016 Lexus GS

Starting MSRP: $45,615 - $63,080

Estimated MPG: 22 city / 32 hwy

2016 Lexus GS Review

Offering luxury, composed driving dynamics and a healthy dose of tech features, the 2016 Lexus GS is a worthy alternative to the German luxury sedans that have historically dominated the segment. Attractive styling and high-quality cabin materials provide a serene driving environment, while multiple powertrain choices ensure that the GS meets the needs of each individual buyer.

By Jim Sharifi
Last Updated 11/04/2016

The Lexus GS is a midsize luxury sedan that sees some notable updates for 2016. A new GS 200t trim debuts as the base model, featuring a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The V6-equipped GS 350 offers slightly more power than the 2015 model, and all models gain revised front-end styling. The hybrid-powered Lexus GS 450h is also offered, and both the GS 350 and GS 450h receive a standard navigation system for 2016. Finally, Lexus Safety System + is a newly offered option package for 2016. It includes lane departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.

The base GS 200t comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is optional on the GS 350. The high-performance Lexus GS F is also offered, and covered in a separate review.

Exterior

Exterior
8

Assertive yet understated, the Lexus GS offers the right amount of flair to compete with luxury sedans like the 2016 Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. Its most aggressive design element is up front, where the brand’s “spindle grille” dominates the fascia. Conservative styling is more evident along its profile, where our test GS 200t’s gradually rising beltline was accented by attractive, 18-inch alloy wheels. From the rear, dual exhaust outlets and small details like a roof-mounted shark fin antenna give the Lexus GS a dignified look.

The base GS comes with exterior features that include 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, automatic bi-LED headlights, a moonroof and heated sideview mirrors with integrated turn signals. Exterior upgrades include 18- or 19-inch wheels, as well as headlight washers, rain-sensing windshield wipers and LED fog lights. There’s also an available F Sport package that adds unique wheels, a rear spoiler, unique front and rear fascias and F Sport exterior badging.

Interior

Interior
9

Spacious and attractively trimmed, the 2016 GS has a cabin that features impressive build quality and premium materials. We enjoyed our GS 200t’s clean, functional dash layout, which was dominated by a large 12.3-inch infotainment screen. Headroom might be a little tight for exceptionally tall drivers, but those around 6 feet tall should have no issue finding a comfortable seating position. There’s good legroom in both rows, and a large padded armrest between the front seats contributes to an open, comfortable environment.

Our test car came with the base NuLuxe leatherette upholstery, which we’ve sampled in other Lexus products such as the NX Hybrid. NuLuxe truly hits the mark, with a look and feel that’s exceptionally close to soft leather. In fact, it fooled more than one passenger during our week of testing. Trunk space stands at 16.2 cubic feet, which is pretty roomy relative to other choices in this segment. For comparison, the Audi A6 offers 14.1 cubic feet of trunk space. Notably, the GS 450h only loses 0.3 cubic feet of trunk space when compared with the non-hybrid model.

Power-adjustable front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, a proximity key, push-button start and dual-zone automatic climate control are standard on the Lexus GS. Available upgrades include a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade, leather upholstery and wood trim.

Performance

Performance
8

Three engines are available with the 2016 GS. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque comes standard with the Lexus GS 200t. Choose the GS 350 and you’ll get a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard on both models, and all-wheel drive is available with the GS 350.

Opt for the hybrid-powered Lexus GS 450h and you’ll get a 3.5-liter V6 and two electric motors that offer a total output of 338 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard in the GS 450h.

The base GS 200t gets an EPA-estimated 22/32 mpg city/highway, while the GS 350 gets up to 20/28 mpg. The hybrid GS 450h delivers the best fuel economy in the lineup, with 29/34 mpg.

As tested, our Lexus GS 200t offered a near-perfect balance of comfort and agility. The ride remained composed over rough pavement, and the GS impresses with a level of stability through corners that should please driving enthusiasts who need a luxury sedan, but want to have a bit of fun when the road offers twists and turns.

While a turbo-four is new to the GS, it’s not new to the segment. The Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series were among the first in this class to feature a 2.0-liter turbo, and competitors like the Cadillac CTS followed suit. We felt the turbocharged engine was well-matched to the car overall, with good off-the-line acceleration and enough power in reserve for highway passing and merging. Still, there were instances where the GS 200t’s turbo-four wasn’t as responsive as we’d like. It was most noticeable on the highway, where a delayed reaction followed quick throttle inputs if we decided to deviate from our normal cruising speed.

Technology

Technology
7

The technological centerpiece of our test GS 200t was an enormous 12.3-inch display. It’s a highly configurable system with split-screen functionality that displays navigation, audio, phone and climate information. Primary functions, such as audio tuning and climate adjustments, are easily made using redundant knobs and buttons on the center stack, but more involved processes like programming a destination require using the mouselike Remote Touch controller that resides on the center console.

While we prefer this version of Remote Touch to the touchpad that’s found in some of the GS’ siblings (such as the Lexus NX and RC), we also find it more difficult to use than the knob-based controllers that are found in many of the GS’ competitors. Moving Remote Touch’s cursor to highlight selections on the display simply required a little too much attention, particularly while driving.

The GS 200t’s standard tech features include a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, satellite radio, hands-free text messaging, Siri Eyes Free compatibility and an 8-inch display. Optional features include an upgraded infotainment system with a 12.3-inch screen, a head-up display and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

Safety

Safety
8

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2016 GS top scores of Good for its performance in moderate overlap front crash tests, as well as side crash and roof strength tests. Models with a forward collision system received a Basic rating for front crash prevention.

The base GS comes standard with a rearview camera and Lexus Enform Safety Connect, which provides automatic collision notification, roadside assistance, emergency assistance and a stolen vehicle locator. Available driver-assistance features include lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
9

The 2016 Lexus GS 200t starts at $45,615 plus a $950 destination charge. GS 350 and GS 450 models start at $50,000 and $63,080, respectively.

Our test GS 200t added to the list of standard equipment with 18-inch wheels ($905), navigation with the upgraded infotainment system and 12.3-inch display ($1,730), parking assist ($500) and a Premium package ($1,400) that adds rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated front seats and a power rear sunshade. After destination, our 2016 GS 200t carried an as-tested price of $51,100.

Two of the big-ticket options on our test car – the 18-inch wheels and navigation system – come standard on the GS 350, leading us to suggest it as the best value in the lineup. While all models come with a competitive list of standard equipment, the GS 350’s upgraded tech features and additional power make it the logical choice, and the ability to add all-wheel drive on this V6-powered trim should appeal to shoppers who deal with inclement weather.

Overall

Overall
8

The Lexus GS succeeds on a number of levels. It’s luxurious, fun to drive and treats buyers to an impressive list of features without the need to double down on expensive option packages. We’d like to see a more user-friendly infotainment system introduced, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration is notably absent from the 2016 Lexus lineup. Still, there’s no doubt that the 2016 GS represents a strong value within the segment.