2017 Lexus GS 350 F Sport First Test: The Emotional (Value) Pick
Discovering how a former comparison-winner has agedLexus GS Full Overview
We called a Lexus the "Ultimate Driving Machine." In a four-car comparison that included a 2012 BMW 535i and 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport, we fell in love with the then-new GS. Years later, underneath the GS 350's overdone face-lift is a midsize luxury sedan whose focus remains on fun. The segment has changed considerably since that comparo, so we spent some time with and tested a 2017 Lexus GS 350 F Sport to see how well the car holds up.
Although the GS received a refresh for the 2016 model year, at least six competitors have been fully redesigned since the Lexus first arrived for 2013. That's a lot of change, but the sporty 2017 GS 350 F Sport still connects you to the road, a trait you won't find in every $60,000 luxury four-door. It's a quality that, when coupled with the questionable front styling updates, gives character to another car that helps shed the luxury brand's reputation for only building boring cars.
While Lexus has been busy shifting brand perception, the GS 350's engine has survived mostly unchanged since the 2007 model year. The 2017 GS 350's 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 is a refined engine that makes 311 hp at 6,400 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. Mated to an eight-speed automatic, the 2017 Lexus GS 350 F Sport in rear-drive form takes 5.9 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, in Motor Trend testing. On the track, road test editor Chris Walton noted that even in manual-shift mode, the car smoothly auto upshifts almost to the 6,750-rpm redline. "Power is rather linear until 4,000 rpm, where it feels as if there's a noticeable cam-phase change," he said.
On the street, a long stab of the accelerator pedal will be rewarded by a slightly slow initial response followed by just enough force to push you back into your sport seat. Even so, the GS 350 F Sport is outdone in 0-60 mph sprints compared to six-cylinder competitors including an all-wheel-drive 2016 Audi A6 3.0T (4.7 seconds), an all-wheel-drive 2017 Jaguar XF 35t (4.9 seconds), and a rear-drive 2016 Cadillac CTS VSport (4.7 seconds).
Even an all-wheel-drive, turbo-four-powered 2016 Audi A6 2.0T can keep up with the six-cylinder Lexus, falling behind to 60 mph by only one tenth of a second. What that car and the Motor Trendlong-term 2017 BMW 530i (6.2 seconds to 60 mph) lack is the Lexus' engine sound. So other six-cylinder luxury sedans outpace the GS 350 V-6, but the Lexus is priced appropriately, with a six-cylinder starting price of $51,690. That's thousands of dollars below quicker German and British alternatives. Around the figure-eight course, which measures a number of different driving characteristics including acceleration, braking, and cornering (and the transitions between them), the GS 350 F Sport turned in a time of 25.5 seconds at 0.74 average g. That's not far off from the much quicker A6 3.0T AWD's 25.3 seconds at 0.79 average g, not as good as the far more powerful CTS VSport's 24.7 seconds at 0.80 average g, and ahead of an XF 35t AWD's 26.8 seconds at 0.68 average g. Our rear-drive GS 350 F Sport had a $1,700 rear-steering system that can adjust the steering angle of the rear wheels up to two degrees (in the same direction as the front wheels at high speeds and the opposite direction at low speeds).
"Although none of it feels particularly natural or organic, that's not to say it wasn't fun," said testing director Kim Reynolds about the system. He also appreciated the eight-speed's quick shifts (GS 350 F Sports with all-wheel drive get a six-speed automatic).
Aside from the optional four-wheel steering tech, the GS 350 F Sport's standard variable ratio steering system makes the car feel nimbler around city streets. With the system, the car cuts the number of turns lock to lock to 2.3-2.7 compared to regular GS' 2.8 turns. Add in a stiff, sport-tuned adaptive suspension, and you've got a sporty midsize luxury sedan that can make mundane trips a bit more fun even before you put the car into a sport mode by rotating the silver drive mode disc, which is easy to find without looking down. What you won't get with the GS 350 F Sport model is a quiet and cushy highway cruiser—the 5 Series might be a better bet if that's your top priority.
Braking performance and feel on and off the track for the GS could have been better. Walton noted the GS 350 F Sport's "long travel" and "squishy pedal," both details I also noticed on the street. The rear-drive GS 350 F Sport gets 14-inch front brake rotors, up from 13.1 inches on other GS models, yet its 60-0-mph braking test took 113 feet, which is better than the XF 35t (122 feet) and A6 2.0T (117 feet) but behind a 530i (103 feet), CTS VSport (107 feet), and A6 3.0T (109 feet). The GS 350 F Sport in rear-drive form rides on 235/40R19 tires in front and 265/35R19 tires in back.
By going F Sport or, really, with the GS 350 at all, you're sacrificing a little in EPA-rated fuel economy. The rear-drive 2017 GS 350 F Sport is good for ratings of 19/27 mpg city/highway (one mpg down from the non-F-Sport model in both measurements), and that's lower than the nearly as quick 2017 BMW 530i (24/34 mpg) as well as the quicker 540i (20/30 mpg). The six-cylinder 2017 Jaguar XF is rated at 20/29 mpg, but the Lexus does beat the 2017 Cadillac CTS VSport (16/24 mpg). That car has a much higher starting price and is in another class in terms of swift acceleration, but it should be considered by anyone who's thinking of getting a GS 350 F Sport.
Perhaps one trait both of those cars share is an interior that's not going to impress with above-average interior space the way a long-wheelbase Infiniti Q70 or Volvo S90 will. The Lexus GS' interior offers average space for the segment, but at least most of the touch points feel rich. As with the 2017 IS 200t F Sport we reviewed, our GS 350 F Sport tester really makes the driver feel like they made a solid choice by going with the Lexus. The leatherlike padding on the side of the center console is very comfortable and a great idea for long red lights when you want to rest your right leg. The steering wheel's leather feels great, and the soft top of the center console storage compartment is appreciated, too. The LFA-inspired instrument cluster is a big change compared to non-F-Sport GS cars, as well, and it features a digital display at its center.
As with all GS 350s, a 12.3-inch screen sits at the top of the dash and can split info between navigation, fuel economy, or song-title details. It's a shame Android Auto and Apple CarPlay aren't offered because the technologies facilitate different tasks including receiving/sending voice-commanded text messages and quicker navigation when you know a place's name and city but not the actual address. Having said that, we had no issues using the Lexus' navigation system with voice commands, though it could have responded a tad quicker. In previous reviews and comparisons, Motor Trend has criticized Lexus' Remote Touch interface for not being easy to use, and that's still the case hereâthough I personally only find it mildly inconvenient. The system, which has a raised pad to rest your hand on and a small computer-mouse-like controller, requires a delicate touch to maneuver to certain on-screen buttons. As with all luxury-car infotainment systems, however, there is a learning curve. What I learned during my time with the car were ways to work around the system, from the two other methods to skip ahead a track to the dual enter buttons on the side of the remote-touch controller or even the physical buttons you can use to zoom in/out on a map.
Aside from a navigation system on a 12.3-inch screen that's standard on the GS 350, Lexus adds more value in the form of a standard suite of active safety tech. A collision mitigation braking system is one of those features that's good to have but that you hope you never need to use (after alerting the driver to a potential collision ahead, the car can apply the brakes if necessary). A lane keeping assist system, in which the car can keep you from veering out of your lane when it detects lane markings, is also helpful. I'm a fan of adaptive cruise control systems that can accelerate and apply the brakes in traffic but found this system applied the brakes a bit too forcefully—your experience might vary.
Once you escape traffic and reach your destination, we'd recommend the $500 front and rear parking sensors, though we'd prefer a multi-camera parking system. The $400 power-opening/closing trunklid is also a cool though increasingly common luxury, but it could be quicker to open and close. Really, these are minor concerns for a car that fills a unique space in the midsize luxury sedan segment—less expensive than quicker six-cylinder competitors but with a better sounding engine than some similarly priced four-cylinder alternatives. The GS 350 F Sport connects you to the road in a way you might not expect, so as long as you're not looking for a pure luxury experience and the chaotic front styling isn't a total turn-off, consider the Lexus.
Read more about Lexus F Sport sedans:
|2017 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$61,430|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.5L/311-hp/280-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,941 lb (52/48%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||192.1 x 72.4 x 57.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.9 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.4 sec @ 98.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||113 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.89 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.5 sec @ 0.74 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||19/27/22 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||177/125 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.88 lb/mile|
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2017 Lexus GS GS 350 F Sport AWD Features and Specs
Front Sport Seats -inc: 16-way power driver seat w/power side bolsters, thigh support, 4-way lumbar and memory, 10-way passenger seat
Ventilated Front Seats
4-Way Power Driver Seat -inc: Power Cushion Extension and Seatback Side Bolster Support
8-Way Passenger Seat
Bench Front Facing Rear Seat
Power Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Voltmeter, Engine Coolant Temp, Tachometer, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
Power Rear Windows
Selective Service Internet Access
Leather Steering Wheel w/Auto Tilt-Away
Proximity Key For Doors And Push Button Start
Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, 4 Door Curb/Courtesy, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button
Remote Releases -Inc: Power Cargo Access and Power Fuel
HomeLink Garage Door Transmitter
Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning
HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts and Console Ducts
Illuminated Locking Glove Box
Driver Foot Rest
Full Cloth Headliner
Leatherette Door Trim Insert
Leather Gear Shifter Material
Interior Trim -inc: Aluminum Instrument Panel Insert, Aluminum Door Panel Insert, Aluminum Console Insert, Chrome/Aluminum Interior Accents and Leatherette Upholstered Dashboard
F Sport Leather
Day-Night Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination
Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 2 12V DC Power Outlets
Front And Rear Map Lights
Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front And Rear Floor Mats
Carpet Floor Trim and Carpet Trunk Lid/Rear Cargo Door Trim
Cargo Space Lights
Memory Settings -inc: Door Mirrors and Steering Wheel
FOB Controls -inc: Cargo Access, Windows and Sunroof/Convertible Roof
Smart Device Integration
Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins
Power 1st Row Windows w/Front And Rear 1-Touch Up/Down
Delayed Accessory Power
Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
Outside Temp Gauge
Seats w/Leatherette Back Material
Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
2 Seatback Storage Pockets
Front Center Armrest and Rear Center Armrest w/Pass-Thru w/Storage
2 12V DC Power Outlets
– Detroit, Michigan
In the past month, I’ve spent a lot of time in the new BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class – two important players in the midsize luxury/sport segment. They’re fantastic, the true benchmarks of the class… and they really point out the weaknesses of competitors like this Lexus GS 350.
The Lexus GS is priced well below equivalent versions of its German rivals, and that’s this car’s one big competitive advantage. The GS 350 F Sport you see here is equipped with the same luxury and technology features as its rivals, for a lot less coin. However, this is really a case of getting what you pay for.
Smooth ride. I took the GS for a couple of long freeway cruises, and honestly, I think that’s where this car truly excels. The chassis is tuned in such a way that the GS never feels floaty, it won’t waft about. But at the same time, harsh pavement impacts aren’t felt from the driver’s seat. I could road trip in this thing for hours and hours and would have no complaints about ride quality whatsoever.
They call it “Lexus quiet” for a reason. Closing the door on the GS feels like sealing yourself inside a vault. All wind noise vanishes, road noise is nonexistent. You can have a conversation with your passengers at a reasonable volume, and you don’t have to crank the stereo to drown out the sounds from outside. As far as interior quiet-tuning goes, Lexus proves it’s still the benchmark.
Priced right. This GS 350 F Sport is nearly fully loaded and costs $60,055. Similarly equipped versions of a BMW 530i or Mercedes-Benz E300 run about $5,000 more, and come with less power from their four-cylinder powertrains.
A step behind the rest. The GS just feels old, when in reality, it isn’t. The German rivals have fantastic new interiors, and efficient four-cylinder powertrains that are more engaging than the old, naturally aspirated V6 found here. (Lexus does offer the GS with a 2.0-liter turbo, though it’s kind of a dog.) Even competitors like the Cadillac CTS and Genesis G80 feel a step above this GS in terms of modern design and engineering.
F Sport? What sport? Never mind the racy appearance – nothing about this F Sport car makes me want to drive it enthusiastically. The V6 is weak, and the eight-speed transmission is often slow to shift. There’s very little feedback through the steering, and while the chassis is indeed solid and smooth, it doesn’t inspire much confidence when I actually throw the GS into a bend.
Finicky tech. Even after all these years of using Lexus’ mouse-like control system, I’m still horrible at it, constantly making little adjustments because I’m not quite hovering over the right part of a button. Oh, and the company’s “fix” for this – the touchpad seen in newer products – is actually, somehow, worse. Things would be so much easier if I could just touch that huge, colorful screen, but I can’t. Because Lexus won’t let me.
BMW 5 Series
Photos: James Bradbury / Motor1.com
2017 LEXUS GS 350 F SPORT RWD
Output311 Horsepower / 280 Pound-Feet
Speed 0-60 MPH5.7 Seconds
Top Speed143 MPH
Efficiency19 City / 28 Highway / 22 Combined
Drive TypeRear-Wheel Drive
Cargo Volume18.4 Cubic Feet
Gs 2017 lexus
Clean Retail Price
The MT clean retail price reflects a reasonable asking price by a dealership for a fully reconditioned vehicle (clean title history, no defects, minimal wear) with average mileage.
|5-Year Cost to Own / Rating|
|$46,310||Coming Soon||$45,558 / Good|
|$46,310||Coming Soon||$45,558 / Good|
|$50,365||Coming Soon||$53,653 / Poor|
|$50,695||Coming Soon||$51,625 / Mediocre|
|$53,980||Coming Soon||$51,488 / Average|
|$54,810||Coming Soon||$55,190 / Poor|
|$56,555||Coming Soon||$56,882 / Poor|
|$63,635||Coming Soon||$58,697 / Mediocre|
|$68,680||Coming Soon||$64,834 / Poor|
|$83,940||Coming Soon||$78,493 / Mediocre|
5-Year Cost to Own
- Excellent ride and handling balance in F Sport models
- Great fuel economy in GS 450h hybrid
- Well-appointed interior
- Small trunk space
- Rough ride in the GS F
- Outdated infotainment system
Lexus GS Expert Review
New for 2017
The 2017 Lexus GS now comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ suite active safety features and Smoky Granite Mica, has been added to the car's exterior color palette. A complimentary navigation system has also been added to the base GS 200t. Models include the turbo-four-powered GS 200t, GS 350 V-6, GS 450h V-6 hybrid, and performance-oriented GS F V-8.
The 2017 Lexus GS is a midsize luxury sports sedan slotting above the compact IS and the full-size LS. Unlike the similarly sized ES sedan, the GS is rear-wheel drive and is available with all-wheel drive.
Four powertrain choices are available in the 2017 GS, including a hybrid.
Model: GS 200t, GS 200t F Sport
Engine and Transmission: 2.0-liter turbo-four - eight-speed automatic transmission
Power: 241 hp/258 lb-ft of torque
EPA-Rated Fuel Economy: 22/32 mpg city/highway (GS 200t); 21/30 mpg (GS 200t F Sport)
Model: GS 350, GS 350 F Sport, GS 350 AWD
Engine and Transmission: 3.5-liter V-6 - eight-speed automatic or six-speed automatic
Power: 311 hp/280 lb-ft
EPA-Rated Fuel Economy: 20/28 mpg (GS 350); 19/27 mpg (GS 350 F Sport); 19/26 mpg (GS 350 AWD)
Model: GS 450h
Engine and Transmission: 3.5-liter V-6 + electric motor - CVT
Power: 338 hp combined
EPA-Rated Fuel Economy: 29/34 mpg
Model: GS F
Engine and Transmission: 5.0-liter V-8 - eight-speed automatic
Power: 467 hp/389 lb-ft
EPA-Rated Fuel Economy: 16/24 mpg
Cargo space varies based on the model you opt for. The GS 200t and GS 350 have 14.3 cubic feet, the GS 450h has 13.2 cubic feet, and the GS F has the least at 14 cubic feet. Unfortunately, there's no split-folding rear seats in any model.
Standard features include LED headlights, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry/start, leatherette upholstery, 10-way power adjustable front seats, an 8-inch multimedia screen, a 4.2-inch multi-information display, Bluetooth connectivity, and a rearview camera. Options include a navigation system featuring a 12.3-inch screen, a full app suite, tri-beam LED headlights, heated and ventilated front seats, a Mark Levinson premium audio system, and a heated steering wheel. The F Sport package adds larger brakes, 19-inch alloy wheels, 16-way power front sport seats, F Sport-tuned adaptive suspension with a Sport S+ mode, rear-wheel steering and variable gear ratio steering. A limited-slip differential is optional on the rear-drive GS 350 F Sport.
The NHTSA hasn't crash-tested the 2017 Lexus GS. In IIHS evaluations, the car received a Good score in the moderate front overlap, side impact, and roof strength test (Good is the highest possible score). In the new forward collision prevention test, the 2017 GS received a Basic score because its crash avoidance technologies have yet to be tested. The Lexus Safety System+ suite adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and pedestrian detection.
What We Think
In a 2012 comparison test that also included the Audi A6, BMW 535i, and Infiniti Q70 (formerly M37S), the Lexus GS 350 F Sport won thanks to its excellent handling and well-appointed interior. The car's communicative and balanced steering also won praise as it contributes to the car's excellent overall driving dynamics.
The high-performance GS F took second place in a 2016 comparison test that also included the Cadillac CTS VSport and Audi S6. Due to its outdated infotainment system, stiff ride, and delayed throttle response in modes other than the most aggressive settings. Additionally, the ride gets overly harsh over rough surfaces since you can't adjust it to make it softer.
One of the newer models in the GS lineup, the GS 200t, offers sufficient mid-range torque for passing, as we noted in a 2016 First Drive. However, the car does suffer from turbo lag as it takes some time for the turbo to spool if you floor the car from a standstill. The chassis, on the other hand, provides an excellent balance between ride and handling, featuring well-controlled body motions without sacrificing comfort.
The Lexus GS shares its underpinnings with the smaller IS.
2017 LexusGS 350 Pricing and Specs
Compare 4 GS 350 trims and trim families below to see the differences in prices and features.
Trim Family Comparison
BaseView 2 Trims
- 3.5L V-6 Engine
- 6-spd auto w/OD Transmission
- 311 @ 6,400 rpm Horsepower
- 280 @ 4,800 rpm Torque
- all wheel Drive type
- ABS and driveline Traction control
- 1st row regular express open/close sliding and tilting glass Sunroof
- 18" machined aluminum Wheels
- front air conditioning, dual zone automatic
- driver and front passenger heated-cushion, heated-seatback Heated front seats
- SiriusXM AM/FM/HD/Satellite, seek-scan Radio
- 1st row LCD monitor
- keyfob (all doors) Remote keyless entry
- Heated mirrors
- leather Seat trim
- driver and passenger Lumbar support
- Navigation system
F SportView 2 Trims
Additional or replacing features on Base
- 8-spd auto w/OD Transmission
- rear-wheel Drive type
- 19" machined aluminum Wheels
- Windshield wipers - rain sensing
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