This year, Lexus pared down the number of available powertrains in the GS from four to three. A base turbo-4 provides propulsion in the GS 300, while a V-6 offers good power in the GS 350. A V-8 planted in the GS F’s snout is raucous fun, but perhaps not practical.
Our rating applies to the most popular pick for buyers, the GS300, that feels overwhelmed by its mass. That doesn’t dent the creamy ride thankfully, which helps it earn a point above average on our scorecard. It gets a 6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The base engine is a turbo-4, borrowed from other applications in the Lexus lineup. The 241-hp engine is saddled with more weight in the GS than those other cars, though, and it feels outgunned compared to competitors base turbo-4 engines. It’s teamed with an 8-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive only, which relieves it of the burden (and additional weight) of driving two more wheels.
Like the RC 300, the GS 300 lacks responsiveness of its similarly powered competitors. Blame the transmission, blame the turbos, it doesn’t matter: it’s just a half-step behind our right feet.
Thankfully, depending on trim level, the V-6-powered GS 350 isn’t a big step up in price or a big step down for fuel economy.
The 311-hp V-6 is paired to the same 8-speed automatic in rear-drive configuration, a 6-speed automatic with all-wheel drive. It’s more deliberate and progressive in its power delivery, a smoother ride with more than 25 percent more oomph than the turbo-4.
Our preference is for the rear-drive GS 350 F Sport that bundles a handful of performance goodies into the sedan for good measure.
The GS 350 F Sport adds a Torsen limited-slip rear differential and variable ratio steering system that adds sharper turn-in at speed and a unflappable tail on twisty roads—if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Lexus GS F gets a mellifluous 5.0-liter V-8 that makes 467 hp and drives the rear wheels only. It’s a secret star on the road and fun to drive, but its price reaches toward other competitors’ V-8s that are more modern, equipped with turbos and all-wheel drive, and screamingly fast. (See: BMW M550i xDrive)
Regardless of what’s under the hood, the GS sports an independent multi-link front and rear suspension setup that is tuned for comfort. The base 17-inch tires are the softest, but even the F Sport’s 19-inchers aren’t punishing. (Keep an eye out for potholes, though.)
The GS350 F Sport includes rear-wheel steering that can dial in up to 2 degrees of opposite or tandem steering with the front wheels to draw a tighter line at high speeds, or virtually shorten the wheelbase at lower speeds.
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