Thanks to its aggressive styling, refined interior and competitive pricing, the 2017 Lexus GS is an attractive alternative in a midsize luxury sedan segment traditionally dominated by German manufacturers.
For 2017, the GS includes the once-optional Lexus Safety System+ package as standard equipment. The safety package includes intelligent high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and a pre-collision system. The Lexus GS is available in six different trim levels: GS Turbo (GS 200t), GS Turbo F Sport, GS 350, GS 350 F Sport, GS 450h and GS 450h F Sport. There is also a high-performance Lexus GS F variant, which is covered in a separate review.
Lexus GS buyers can choose between a turbocharged four-cylinder, a V6 and a hybrid powertrain. All non-hybrid rear-wheel-drive models include an eight-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid GS 450h gets a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and all-wheel-drive GS 350 models receive a six-speed automatic.
The exterior styling of the Lexus GS is aggressive and often polarizing. While we find the bold lines, wheel flares, “slingshot” windows and over-the-top front-end design a hopeful nod to the future, others may see the oversized grille and curvy chin spoiler as a bit too much. The bi-LED headlamps and arrowhead-shaped LED daytime running lamps add to the design and give the GS a distinct face whether it is day or night.
The base GS Turbo rides on 17-inch alloy wheels. The GS 350 and GS 450h come with 18-inch wheels.
F Sport models receive a unique mesh grille, 19-inch staggered-width wheels and F Sport badging. Additionally, F Sport models gain a rear lip spoiler, aluminum trim and an F Sport front bumper and lower rear valance.
The Lexus GS’s cabin utilizes high-quality materials and boasts impeccable fit and finish. The base model features simulated leather seating surfaces, aluminum alloy doorsill scuff plates and LED ambient lighting. Finding a comfortable driving position is simple thanks to the 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and the power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Front-seat passengers are provided with plenty of leg- and headroom.
The GS’s rear seats are family-friendly, providing ample room for two adults. Three smaller individuals will find the rear seat adequate, even for longer journeys. But, as with most midsize sedans, three average-to large adults will likely find the rear seat inadequate for comfortable commutes.
Cargo space comes in at 14.3 cubic feet. This is more than you’ll get with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (13.1 cubic feet), but less than you’ll find in a BMW 5 Series (18.7 cubic feet). A nifty trunk pass-through system allows for longer items, like skis and lumber. A battery pack reduces trunk capacity in the GS 450h, and trunk capacity in this model stands at 13.2 cubic feet.
Convenience features abound, including an electrochromic rearview mirror with compass and a programmable garage door opener, electric trunk release with valet lockout, individual front and rear reading lamps and one-touch power windows.
Our GS Turbo F Sport was equipped with a 16-way power-adjustable sport driver seat and a unique interior treatment that features striated aluminum trim, aluminum pedals and door scuffs, perforated leather upholstery and a black headliner.
Optional features include a heated steering wheel. The Lexus GS can also be customized with a Premium package that includes heated and ventilated front seats and a power rear sunshade. There’s also a Luxury package that starts with the Premium package offerings and adds semi-aniline leather seating trim and a steering wheel wrapped in wood and leather. The package also includes an 18-way power-adjustable front driver’s seat memory settings for the front seats, laser-cut wood ornamentation, rear climate controls and rear manual side sun shades.
The 2017 Lexus GS is available with three different engines. The base GS Turbo uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that creates 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The GS 350 is powered by 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. A six-speed automatic handles gear changes in the all-wheel-drive version of the GS 350. F Sport models include larger front brakes, variable ratio steering, a limited-slip differential and an adaptive suspension.
The hybrid-powered Lexus GS 450h has a 3.5-liter V6 and two electric motors that produce a total of 338 horsepower combined. The 450h uses a CVT and is available exclusively with rear-wheel drive.
The base GS Turbo earns an EPA-estimated 22/32 mpg city/highway while the rear-wheel-drive GS 350 achieves 20/28 mpg. All-wheel-drive GS 350 models are rated at 19/26 city/highway. The hybrid GS 450h is the fuel-economy leader with an impressive 29/34 mpg.
Our GS Turbo F Sport proved to be an excellent daily driver. Straight-line performance is decent, even with the small turbocharged four-cylinder engine. However, we found that the engine needed a second or two to catch up after pressing the throttle pedal. The delayed throttle response was evident when taking off from a standstill and apparent during highway passing and spirited driving maneuvers.
The GS 200t handles like an affordable midsize luxury sedan should. The steering, suspension and braking are predictable and well-mannered. While the base model falls short of a true performance sedan, even with the F Sport upgrades, the GS 200t is rewarding to drive and a good compromise for those who desire a little more performance without breaking the bank.
The base GS Turbo arrives with an 8-inch high-resolution central control screen, keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, Siri Eyes Free, voice recognition, satellite radio and a 12-speaker surround-sound stereo. Controlled by a remote touch interface found in the center console, we found the audio system easy to use.
The GS 350 and GS 450h include a navigation system with a 12.3-inch display screen. The large screen can be configured in a number of ways depending on user preference. Using the split-screen format allows for more of the infotainment’s primary functions to be simultaneously displayed, while those wanting detailed maps can choose to use the entire display to feature the vehicle’s navigation system.
Additional options include a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system as well as Lexus Enform Remote, which allows owners to monitor their GS through their smartphone. Lexus Enform Service Connect is also available, and it automatically reports vehicle health and maintenance alerts.
The Lexus GS earned top scores of Good in moderate overlap front, side and roof strength crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The GS received a Basic rating for its crash avoidance and mitigation technology.
All GS models include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, intelligent high beams and lane departure alert with steering assist. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rearview camera are also standard.
The base 2017 Lexus GS Turbo starts at $46,310 plus a $995 destination charge. The rear-wheel-drive GS 350 starts at $50,695 plus destination, and the hybrid GS 450h starts at $63,635.
The GS Turbo F Sport starts at $53,980. Our test model was equipped with the 12.3-inch navigation system ($1,730), head-up display ($900), one-touch power trunk ($400), orange brake calipers ($300), park assist ($500) and illuminated door sills ($425).
The base pricing for the GS Turbo represents excellent value in the midsize luxury sedan segment, especially when you consider the wealth of driver-assistive technology provided as standard equipment. The GS is also priced below comparable offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Those in winter climates will want to investigate the all-wheel-drive GS 350, priced at $50,365 ($300 less than the rear-wheel-drive GS 350). The six-speed transmission and reduced fuel economy should both be considered, but the all-wheel-drive, V6-powered GS is a standout value in the lineup.
Thanks to a wide variety of available engines and drivetrains, the Lexus GS can be anything from a relatively inexpensive people mover to a fun-to-drive yet fuel-efficient hybrid sedan. Without a doubt, the 2017 Lexus GS is a worthy contender to the German sedans that define the segment.