2015 Lexus GS

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
August 5, 2015

Buying tip

We're drawn most to the extremes of the GS lineup. And with the F Sport package and high-mileage hybrid powertrain all together in one car, it's the 2015 Lexus GS 450h that might be the one to get -- if its price tag doesn't scare you away.

features & specs

4-Door Sedan AWD
4-Door Sedan Crafted Line AWD
4-Door Sedan Crafted Line RWD
19 city / 26 hwy
19 city / 26 hwy
19 city / 29 hwy

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.

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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.

2015 Lexus GS


There's some visual clutter to get past, but the spindle grille, voluptuous sheetmetal, and horizontally themed interior all stand out as different, but not too much so.

The Lexus GS has a racy, voluptuous new design that makes it the most handsome four-door in the Lexus lineup -- yes, even compared to the new Lexus IS. To spice up lagging sales, however, Lexus already reskinned the GS going into 2014, and what remains is one of the best-looking sport sedans on the market.

Mixing a conservative roofline to the new Lexus 'spindle' grille, and mating it with racy, sculpted, quite organic sheetmetal along the sides, the GS has a look that makes it instantly recognizable. Of all the GS sedans we've seen flow out of Lexus' studios, this one's the most upright. The side glass and the cut of the D-pillar echoes strongly of the 2002-2010 BMW 7-Series, where the GS' entire history put low, sleek lines higher on the honey-do list. 

Front-end details are striking, although the tucked-away foglamps and LED eyeliner for the headlamps add up to a bit too much complexity in the F Sport models. At first glance challenging and bristling with detail and surface excitement, the GS 350 settles down quickly and comfortably into your brain.

The cabin does something similar, even as it executes a 180-degree turn from the softly rounded, smoothly deployed ghost of Lexus past. There's a spartan vibe underneath that emanates from the horizontally themed dash, something akin to a Nakamichi sound system, all work while it plays, while cool LED ambient lighting glows around the perimeter and a high-resolution display sucks in all the attention, away from beautiful, big gauges.

Materials are clearly a step ahead in many of the builds of the GS, compared to German luxury benchmarks. Padded leather panels in rich, deep hues keep the subtext alive: we're looking at something that's more live-performance studio than traditional Lexus library. Real wood trim softens the cabin up well, while F Sport cars wear metallic-printed plastic that sounds less appealing than it looks.

Review continues below

2015 Lexus GS


The GS F Sport is the pick for serious enthusiasts, thanks to its paper-cut precision; but you'll fins crisp sport-sedan moves no matter which model.

Lexus has seemingly side-stepped performance for the GS; relying on a base GS 350 or GS 450h hybrid to deliver performance that (mostly) stays true to what the racy exterior promises. While there's still the possibility of a GS F arriving later in the year, or for 2016, for now those who crave a little more performance will have to be happy with the GS 350 F Sport.

With the redesign the lineup received two years ago, the GS got a new eight-speed automatic transmission but lost the available V-8. Yet countering that, the GS has become just a little more athletic in driving feel -- especially if you focus in on all that you get on the F Sport model.

All versions of the GS now sport electric power steering and an independent, multi-link suspension for the front and rear. Thanks to some impressive tuning, a lighter-weight suspension, and a stiffer body, the GS extracts a lot of performance from its standard 17-inch, 50-series tires. We'll also give some kudos to relatively well-executed power steering that keeps the base car pleasant, nimble, and communicative, while offering a more composed ride than either the previous GS or most current rivals.

The all-wheel-drive system, for the 40 percent who have to have it, varies its torque from a 50:50 split to 30:70 as needed.

On Luxury models, you add an adaptive suspension, a pricey option for subtle differences in ride and handling, we think. It's the more progressive steps forward with the adaptive suspension and active steering, combined into the F Sport package, that set a new benchmark for the brand. While rivals from Germany struggle in their own ways to elevate electronic driving controls to their high standards of driving feel, the F Sport delivers a driving experience that doesn't at all feel remote or 'digital.'

In all, the F Sport adds stiffer springs, roll bars and bushings; adaptive shocks; variable-ratio steering; and bigger front brakes. Active rear steering is available, and it can dial in up to 2.0 degrees of steering angle at the rear wheels opposing the fronts, to slice off apexes more neatly, or steer in tandem with the front wheels at high speeds for better stability. Managing it all atop 19-inch wheels and tires, Lexus finally has drilled one home. It's dialed up instantaneous steering response and very tightly damped ride control, with very low tolerance for potholes and bad pavement junctions the price paid for its crisp handling. 

The standard 3.5-liter V-6 on GS 350 models is tuned to 306 horsepower, and it's a fully modern engine, with direct injection, four valves per cylinder and four cams, plus variable valve timing. This engine is definitely stronger on torque from about 3000 rpm and above, where there's also an aural boost with a muffler and sound generator that pipe the magic right into the GS' cockpit -- pretty much the opposite of Lexus tradition and its super-quiet interiors on other models.

The eight-speed automatic transmission that arrived last year at last made this model fully competitive on the numbers; but it's the throttle-blipping, quicker shifting, and Eco and Sport shifting modes -- plus a Sport + mode on top versions -- that makes the GS a sportier character.

All told, sending power to the rear wheels on the basic GS 350, Lexus quotes a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds, or a few tenths slower with optional all-wheel drive. Top speed's set at 142 mph for RWD models.

And there is one very different other choice in the GS model line; that's the GS 450h hybrid, which pairs a special Atkinson-cycle version of the V-6 with a 147-kilowatt motor and 30-kilowatt nickel metal hydride battery pack--altogether making 338 horsepower. We've found that while this hybrid delivers strong acceleration, as well as comfortable, quiet low-speed all-electric operation, its driving experience feels more detached.

There's a wide gap in ride and handling, too. Lexus has opted to make its semi-active suspension standard on the hybrid, along with electric power steering and a drive-mode selector that programs the electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT) to behave in eco, sport, sport-plus, and EV modes, as well as in normal mode. It now has eight pre-programmed steps. The different driving styles adapt well enough to the GS 450h's demeanor, though it's still saddled with the lower end of the GS' performance abilities--the smaller sizes of tires, lower rolling resistance for better fuel economy, and a lighter touch to its steering all remove the feedback that's been carefully dialed into the sporty versions of the gas-powered GS 350. The brakes are the usual hybrid sore point, with lots of regenerative stiffness and little real braking sensation. This is the GS to drive if you're strictly concerned with a planet-friendly statement.



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2015 Lexus GS

Comfort & Quality

Those in the front seat get the attention, while those in the back bench seat still won't feel all that cosseted or comfortable.

With its last redesign for 2013, Lexus kept the GS family's existing dimensions, essentially, but managed to design a lot more passenger space into the interior. With reshaped seats and resculpted interior trim, there's still loads of comfort for the driver and front passenger -- although those in back will still find their space quite tight.

In front the basic 10-way power-adjustable seats make it simple to find the right driving position, along with a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and power-adjustable rearview mirrors. The premium-upgrade 18-way seats are wonderfully supportive and include heating and ventilation, a feature we've grown to appreciate for almost year-round seat comfort.

The rear seat doesn't seem much larger in any dimension from where we last left the GS, however. Knee room is lean, though a somewhat lower seating position might help head room. The nominal fifth seat in the middle of the back bench won't be comfortable for most adults we know, but the doors themselves are larger, which means it's easier to slide in. Heated rear seats and rear-seat climate control are available as options.

The trunk's opening is wide, but it's somewhat shallow, with a pass-through for longer items. Inside the cabin, smaller items find a home in door pockets, in a fairly deep glovebox, and in a console bin with a lid that slides backward to expose audio ports. A big pair of cupholders sits at the front of the console under a lid.

On the whole, the level of fit and finish in the 2015 Lexus GS 350 is very high. High-grade plastic trim now dominates the dash, from the console coverings to the metallic highlights that surround the analog clock. One annoyance we noticed is the Remote Touch controller's housing and its poor fit on the console: on the right side, it doesn't match the shape of the console, leaving a gap where all sorts of detritus is doomed to gather. On a brighter note, Lexus' GS gauges are big, crisp and clear, and lots of padded leather surfaces are stitched together with care--though they add up visually, making the dash look busy, seam by seam.

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2015 Lexus GS


The 2015 Lexus GS lineup earns impressive crash-test scores, and has no lack of available active-safety wizardry.

The 2015 Lexus GS has an impressive set of safety credentials -- underscored by excellent handling, plus a series of options that can be an asset when you let attention lapse. 

With top 'good' ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in all of the agency's tests -- except for the tough new small overlap frontal test -- the GS is in the upper echelon among luxury sedans. The federal government hasn't yet tested the GS. 

There's nothing lacking in the GS family's base set of safety features. The airbag count goes up to ten, with dual front and side airbags joined by curtain and rear-seat side airbags, plus front knee airbags. Active headrests are standard, as is a rearview camera and parking sensors -- and Bluetooth, which helps keep your hands on the wheel, even if some kinds of conversations might be distracting.

On top of this, there's a slew of high-tech safety options. The GS models' standard cruise control can be upgraded to active cruise control with a pre-collision warning system (rated 'Advanced' by the IIHS) and braking intervention. A head-up display and night vision are offered, as are blind-spot monitors. A lane-departure warning system works with a lane-keeping system to gently steer the GS back into its lane if the car's sensors detect that you're wandering (and potentially drowsy or inattentive).

2015 Lexus GS


Good connectivity and excellent in-car entertainment systems give the GS an edge over some other models in its class.

The 2015 Lexus GS lineup is priced right around key rivals like the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But the key difference is in options; while they're a rather dizzying no-build-quite-the-same process for those German sedans, it's a relatively simplified process for the Lexus. All told, a fully trimmed Lexus GS 350 nudges $60k, but those other models can add up even higher.

Every Lexus comes with the standard set of convenience features. For the GS, that includes power mirrors, locks and windows; automatic climate control; Bluetooth connectivity; cruise control; AM/FM/XM/DVD with HD radio; leather; and power front seats.

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.  

More conventional luxury options include a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with 835 watts of power; a Premium Package with heated and ventilated front seats and rain-sensing wipers; heated rear seats; and a Luxury Package with adaptive headlights, adaptive suspension, unique leather; 18-way power front seats; rear climate controls; and a wood-trimmed steering wheel. 

Remote Touch is also standard. It's the Lexus infotainment controller that uses a mouselike device on the center console to operate climate, audio, and phone functions via an eight-inch display, which also becomes the output for the standard rearview camera. When the optional navigation system is ordered, Remote Touch displays on a huge, beautiful 12.3-inch-wide screen that's wide enough to split in half to simultaneously show mapping information and for audio tracks.

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2015 Lexus GS

Fuel Economy

There's still no hybrid model, and mileage numbers are average for the 2015 Lexus GS lineup.

If you want to put the priority on fuel efficiency, you're probably not going to be shopping sport sedans like the 2015 Lexus GS. Yet again, you have an option if you like the looks, and perhaps the handling, of this sport sedan but don't mind sacrificing some of the directness of the driving experience: the 2015 Lexus GS 450h hybrid.

With the 450h, you improve what otherwise are some middling figures up to 29 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 31 mpg combined. On the highway, you'd do better opting with one of the new diesel models (like the E-Class Bluetec or BMW 528d), but for the city the GS hybrid can't be beat. 

The EPA rates the non-hybrid GS 350 at 19 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. And when it's outfitted with heavy all-wheel-drive gear, the GS 350 is downrated to 19/26 mpg, or 21 mpg combined.

For comparison, the seven-speed Infiniti Q70 is rated lower than the Lexus GS 350 at 18/26 mpg, although a number of comparable non-hybrid models do better -- like the Mercedes-Benz E350, at 20/30 mpg.

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August 16, 2015
2015 Lexus GS 4-Door Sedan Crafted Line AWD

Fantastic Great handling and comfortable

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I had the GS 350 AWD and wanted a larger car with more comfort for my passengers so I traded the GS 350 AWD for a LS 460 L AWD both of the cars are amazing The Lexus really holds is value
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