Lexus GS Performance

#3 in Luxury Midsize Cars Performance Score: 8.4 / 10
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2017 Lexus GS Performance Overview

Rather than offering one sedan that attempts to do it all, Lexus has a variety of 2017 GS models, so you can go with the one that best fits your driving style. Handling ranges from soothing and laid-back to an athletic dynamo. The three engines are all refined and energetic, and the automatic transmission is especially delightful, with perfectly timed shifts.

  • "After considerable time behind the wheel of a new Lexus GS 350 sedan, we found it to be a likable and competent performance sedan with impressive acceleration, cornering and braking response. It's fun to drive and absolutely luxurious." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The four-cylinder engine is offered with rear-wheel drive only, so buyers in need of all-wheel drive will have to turn their attention to the traditional GS 350. It's offered in rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations with a 311-hp V6. Either way, though, this is a sedan that strikes a well-considered balance between comfort and performance, and is equally well-suited to daily commute duty or long road trips. Nor is the GS afraid of tight turns – it's actually one of the better cars in this class, and its performance cred can be dialed up a tick on all models by opting for the F Sport package." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "The all-new Lexus GS 200t is the right car for the right buyer, the right buyer being the type who doesn't drive aggressively, whether by preference or to save fuel. Driven in a leisurely manner, it's as smooth and coddling as you'd expect a traditional Lexus to be. If you're looking for the brand's new performance edge, you'll find the spirit of it in the GS 200t's handling, but you're better off looking further up the range to a more powerful engine. If you're not the type to buy more horsepower than you need to get to Bingo and back, the GS 200t will do so comfortably and at the best price. Just don't try to pass anyone on the way." -- Motor Trend (2016)

Acceleration and Power

Lexus offers something for everyone when it comes to GS engine options. The GS 200t is the sole turbocharged model, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that features twin turbochargers and a 241-horsepower rating. Its smooth, relaxed performance works well for urban cruising, and there's enough power that you can comfortably reach highway speeds or occasionally overtake slower traffic. The 200t is the most fuel-efficient GS, delivering 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, which are about average numbers for this class.

The GS 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6. This 311-horsepower engine is naturally aspirated and offers more robust acceleration than the 200t, but it's also a bit louder. Fuel economy follows the class average for V6 engines, at 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway. The high-performance model, the GS F, features a 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 with an advanced fuel delivery system and the ability to hit 60 mph from a dead stop in 4.5 seconds. Top speed is 168 mph. It's a worthy candidate alongside similar sport models from BMW and Audi, though the GS F doesn't deliver quite the same level of athletic experience overall.

All GS models come standard with a stop-start system and an eight-speed automatic transmission that has refined, well-timed shifts. A six-speed automatic transmission comes in GS 350 models with all-wheel drive.

  • "The 2016 GS offers a range of power levels to suit the pocketbooks and sensibilities of more buyers than ever. We've been impressed with the GS 200t's turbocharged four-cylinder's refined zest as found in the NX 200t crossover. As for the GS 350, its normally aspirated V6 has been with us for a decade now, but we still find it strong and satisfying, though it does lack the eager thump in the back that you get with torque-rich turbocharged alternatives. It delivers the goods if you're willing to rev it high." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "The [GS F] engine is a joy -- more than enough power (even in eco mode). Sport and Sport-plus are more of a hoot, of course, with quicker throttle response and quicker shifts." -- Autoweek (2016)
  • "If, like many Lexus owners, you are a retiree or happen to drive like one, you'll find the GS 200t perfectly suitable. Cruising the streets of Palm Springs, I found the little engine perfectly acceptable, offering smooth, creamy acceleration away from stops with good mid-range grunt for overtaking even-slower drivers. The car got up to freeway speeds quickly enough to eliminate any worry of merging below the speed of traffic. Here, again, it offered enough mid-range power to make a typical overtake. The engine is never particularly loud in the cabin and the noise it makes is inoffensive. It was a relaxed and relaxing driving experience, and perfectly pleasant if you're not in any great hurry to get somewhere." -- Motor Trend (2016)

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive is standard in the 2017 GS, with all-wheel drive available only in the GS 350 model. The F Sport package – available in the 200t and 350 models – increases wheel size to 19 inches and, with select configurations, adds larger front brakes, adaptive suspension, and variable gear ratio steering (a system that can individually adjust each wheel for extra control through corners). The GS F has a similar mechanical set-up.

The Lexus GS has a comfortable ride – its suspension smooths out rough spots, and though the GS is stiffer than some Lexus models, reviewers say it's neither too rigid nor overly floaty. There are genuine differences between the driving modes (which can include Eco, Normal, Sport S, Sport S+, and Snow), giving drivers more leeway to set up the car for the experience they prefer.

  • "The GS's stiff structure, lightweight aluminum suspension and wide track all contribute to its level cornering and compliant ride. The 3-setting Drive Mode permits a choice among Eco, Normal and Sport, with each setting varying the degree of response from the steering and throttle. Adding the F-Sport package brings more aggressive ride and handling as well as opens the door to more upgrades, such as the Lexus Dynamic Handling system with Variable Gear Ratio Steering. While we'd say the BMW 5 Series and Cadillac CTS have a bit of a sporting edge on the GS 350, it can certainly hold its own against an AWD Audi A6 or a Jaguar XF." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The GS F feels lighter than some of its competitors on track, and really no heavier than the compact RC F coupe. It's hard to find significant dynamic differences between the F models. Fully credentialed pros might find some -- subtle differences in balance, for example -- but the rest of us probably won't. The GS F could use more horsepower, if that doesn't sound ridiculous for a car with 467. It has the finesse, stability and solidity for at least 100 more." -- Autoweek (2016)
  • "Sure-footed and a reasonably willing partner on a winding road, the GS 200t and 350 have good manners when it comes to handling performance. If that's not enough, the F Sport package elevates its road-holding prowess with variable-ratio and rear-wheel steering systems. The package's larger 19-inch wheels, stiffer suspension and performance-oriented summer tires do degrade comfort a bit, though, but not enough to spoil the experience." -- Edmunds (2016)
Review Last Updated: 7/28/17
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