$13,611 - $20,328

2011 Lexus GS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Lexus GS was new.


Performance: 8.3

A smooth ride, capable handling and precise steering earn high marks for the 2011 Lexus GS. In GS 350 trim, this luxury large car has adequate power to satisfy most shoppers’ needs, although it trails its more-powerful competition within the class. Opting for the GS 460 levels the playing field with some of the Lexus’s competitors. However, some reviewers would like to see a manual transmission, or at least paddle shifters, available.

  • "Well-mannered, well-controlled and admirably quick with either powertrain or drivetrain combination, the GS strikes a very desirable balance of personality traits that should please all but the hardest-core sport-sedan buyers." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "With less horsepower on tap than its V8 rivals, the GS 460 won’t win stoplight races. That hardly means that it’s a slouch, however, its eight-speed automatic firing off quick shifts even when left in standard mode." -- Left Lane News 

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers comment that both engines available in the 2011 Lexus GS are smooth and quiet, although only the V8 equipped GS 460 offers truly competitive acceleration.

Offering plenty of power for most drivers is the Lexus GS 350. Its 3.5-liter V6 produces 303 horsepower, however the luxury large car class is full of cars that make more. GS 350 models are also available with all-wheel drive, making them a viable alternative for shoppers considering models such as the Mercedes E350 4matic, an Audi A6 or an xDrive-equipped BMW 5-Series.

If you’re looking for a little more power, the GS 460’s 4.6-liter V8 provides plenty of thrust, thanks to its 342 horsepower. The power boost also makes the GS a more formidable competitor to sports sedans at the same price point. Still, reviewers note that the GS 460 isn’t a true sports sedan. No manual transmission is offered in the GS, nor are paddle shifters for the automatic, making the GS less desirable to hard-core driving enthusiasts. GS 350s are equipped with a six-speed automatic, while the GS 460’s transmission gets eight gears. Both transmissions can be shifted manually using the gear lever. Shoppers looking to row their own gears may want to check out the BMW 5-Series, which is available with a manual transmission.

The EPA rates the GS 350 at 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway for rear-wheel drive models. Add all-wheel drive to your options list and the GS 350 will get 18/25 mpg in city/highway driving. Fuel economy is slightly less with the big V8; the GS 460 gets 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

  • "GS 460 has lots of go. Lexus quotes 5.4 seconds 0-60 mph, which feels credible to us. The 8-speed automatic transmission changes gears frequently, but it's smooth overall and a good match to the engine." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The 4.6-liter V8 produces an ample 342 horsepower to give the GS 460 relatively swift acceleration, which should satisfy the vast majority of luxury sedan buyers. It is worth noting, though, that it is down on power when compared to other V8-powered luxury sedans." -- Edmunds 
  • "The engine is smooth and the transmission works well overall, but when the GS is driven hard, the eight-speed hunts for gears and there are no paddle shifters here." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The big V8 is a paragon of smoothness, emitting a muffled but sensuous growl under hard acceleration but barely making itself known otherwise. So, too, is the aforementioned transmission. Eight gears might seem like a lot, but the GS shuffles its way through them with minimal fuss or drama. Sport mode -- accessed by slapping the shifter to the left -- turns up the wick and locks out higher gears." -- Left Lane News 

Handling and Braking

While reviewers wonder if the Lexus GS has the power needed to be considered a true sports sedan, they do give the GS high marks for its agility and sharp handling when the road ahead gets twisty.

An electronically-assisted steering system is featured on the Lexus GS. The automotive press is generally not a fan of similar systems, although some reviewers note that the GS’ steering strikes a nice balance between the more posh and more sporting competition. In this system, wheel angle is matched to driver input, correcting any delay in the response. This allows the GS to recover from skids more easily and adjust to wind resistance. In rear-wheel drive GS models it’s impressive, but the system truly shines in all-wheel drive models where it’s near the top of its class. Reviewer opinion of the brakes on the Lexus GS varies however. Some note that brake feel was either mushy or overly sensitive.

  • "No GS feels as agile as comparable German rivals. Still, cornering lean is modest, and grip and balance are both good. Steering is quick enough on all GS models, but it can feel a bit over assisted on the hybrid. Stopping control is strong but to some testers, the pedal action is either too mushy or too sensitive." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Those expecting the type of responsive suspension found in other sport sedans may be disappointed with the Lexus' more leisurely steering reactions when cornering." -- Edmunds 
  • "The suspension trades off a bit of fine-edge feel in return for excellent comfort on a daily-driver basis, and the GS 460's optional Power Active Stabilizer system does a first-rate job of keeping body roll in check." -- Kelley Blue Book  
  • "Not so the GS’s steering, which offers more feel than the Mercedes-Benz E550, but far less than BMW’s 550i. The GS is precise and easy to control, but falls just short of being genuinely fun." --Left Lane News 

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