- Handling and poise
- Voluptuous sheetmetal
- Comfortable, supportive front seats
- Crisp F Sport steering
- Connectivity complete with Enform
- F-Sport's stiff ride
- Mediocre mileage for GS 350
- Tight back-seat knee room
- Cabin's plastic trim
The 2015 Lexus GS family offers a classic, conservative sport-sedan profile -- and enough performance to please most -- but overlays it with as much luxury and technology as you please.
These Lexus GS models were all redesigned for 2013, then reinvigorated for 2014. For 2015, the GS models return with a new F Sport package for the GS 450h hybrid, a new top infotainment system and a few other minor changes.
The 2015 GS 350 and GS 450h hybrid are sport sedans, serving as sharper-edged counterpoints to comfort-oriented ES sedan as well as rivals for a core set of mid-size German luxury and sport sedans, like the Mercedes-Benz E Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6. Meanwhile, the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is perhaps the most direct rival to the GS 450h.
With the 'spindle' grille that's now been introduced for the entire GS lineup, plus a boomerang-shaped frame for the grille, the GS asserts its identity among sport sedans in a way that's refreshing for the market, and for Lexus. We like the voluptuous, organic side sheetmetal matched with the more calculated roof profile, and the way that it pairs with the Nakamichi-minimalist interior fitted inside, upholstered with lots of leather and LED lighting. As for the GS 450h hybrid, it gets the usual blue hybrid badges, a choice of unvarnished bamboo, and hybrid-specific information screens.
The GS 350 models, with their 3.5-liter V-6 now rated at 306 horsepower and paired with an eight-speed automatic, are surprisingly satisfying in a traditional sport-sedan sense. With rear-wheel drive, as well as shift paddles and sport modes, the GS doesn't feel completely out of its element on the track; and although there's no V-8 anymore, 0-60 mph times are around 5.7 seconds. All-wheel-drive models carry over the six-speed automatic that's been around since the last generation. Steering is actually quite good in the GS 350 (there's an effective active-steering system available, too), and in what seems to us to be in complete opposition to what Lexus has always stood for, engine sounds are piped into the cabin.
The GS 450h hybrid is a different animal. It blends V-6 and electric power, sending it to the rear wheels, for some impressive mileage numbers, of 29/34 mpg and 31 mpg combined compares to the GS 350's 19/28 mpg; today's hybrid thus puts more distance between itself than did the previous hybrid, an improvement of about 35 percent, according to Lexus. We've noted that while fuel economy is better for this model, and it's ultimately quicker (5.5 seconds to 60 mph), with more of an ability to run in electric-only mode, the driving experience is a little less direct for this model.
In comfort and spaciousness, the Lexus GS feels warm and inviting. As you'd probably expect, you'll find 10-way power seats, other than optional 18-way power front seats with heating and ventilation and semi-aniline leather in the loveliest of shades. But what makes the GS a little less appealing is its tight back-seat legroom and rather shallow trunk. It's a matter of priorities, you see.
The base set of features in the 2015 GS 350 is impressive in itself, wrapping in ten airbags; a rearview camera; leather upholstery; satellite radio and iPod connectivity; Bluetooth with audio streaming; and Remote Touch, the mouselike controller that runs secondary systems. This year, with an Enform App Suite upgrade, you get Slacker app-based streaming audio and upgrades to iHeartRadio; and navigation-equipped cars get the improved infotainment system that made its debut on the IS sedans last year is now added to the GS. It brings improved map views, predictive traffic, voice recognition, and even a 15-minute buffer feature for radio listening.
There's also a Siri EyesFree mode that, if you have a compatible iPhone, adds enhanced compatibility through the vehicle interface. And a new Enform Remote subscription-based service adds things like remote locking and unlocking, a vehicle finder, status reports, and a "guest driver monitor" that might allow you to clue in on your teenager's driving habits.