2020 Lexus GS

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
November 2, 2019

Buying tip

The GS F Sport strikes a compelling balance between comfort and performance.

The 2020 Lexus GS is a stylish, sporty sedan for nonconformists.

The 2020 Lexus GS may be on borrowed time, but that’s no reason to skip this stylish, strong-performing mid-size luxury sedan. 

Lexus sells only a handful of GS sedans annually, and this year the 2020 GS lineup is pared down to just the GS 350 and GS F models as the GS 300 and its standard turbo-4 bites the dust. The GS is reasonably priced given its level of luxury, and highly refined. We rate the shrunken GS range at 5.6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

The GS 350 makes use of a 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 that shuttles power rearward or to all four wheels through either a 6- or an 8-speed automatic transmission. What the engine lacks in whizzy turbos like its German competition it makes up for in smooth, strong acceleration. Better yet is the ferocious GS F with its 467-hp 5.0-liter V-8 hurtling power rearward. The GS F delivers brutal acceleration and yet remains composed as a daily driver thanks to a ride nearly as supple as its less-wicked GS 350 sibling.

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Fuel economy is unimpressive against rivals exceeding 30 mpg on the highway.

All GS sedans have a luxurious interior dressed up with nice materials, soft leathers, and pretty wood trims. Sticking points are the software and mouse-like controller for the 12.3-inch infotainment screen, which frustrate at every opportunity and don’t offer the comfort of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. 

The GS is well-equipped with active safety tech, though it doesn’t have the hands-off features seen in some competitors. Lexus parent Toyota is instead pouring its resources into higher volume crossovers and SUVs. Don’t follow the crowd and you’ll find the GS to be a comfortable sedan with a likable personality.


7

2020 Lexus GS

Styling

With its buttoned-down looks, the 2020 Lexus GS still draws attention.

The 2020 Lexus GS is about as subtle as its maker gets these days. Its low roof and taut lines work reasonably well with its dramatic, ornate grille, but the real gem here is its refined interior.

For that, we rate the 2020 GS at 7 points.

Cars with the optional F Sport package wear the polarizing grille best, and their 19-inch alloy wheels fill the big wells nicely. Opt for the GS F and the look is even flashier with harder lines and bigger intake openings.

Inside, the GS trades those conflicting shapes outside for a horizontal, low dash. A wide screen rests deep in the dash with climate vents and controls ordered neatly below. Several interior hues offer various synthetic and real leather options as well as wood or aluminum trim panels.

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6

2020 Lexus GS

Performance

The 2020 Lexus GS can thrill when called upon.

And then there were two. The 2020 Lexus GS lineup now offers just two basic flavors, but they both skew to performance. Gone are turbo-4 and hybrid engines offered previously.

We rate the 2020 GS at 6 out of 10 on account of the lineup’s posh ride. The GS F would earn at least another point, and possibly two, for its prodigious thrust and its impressive roadholding.  

The base GS 350 makes use of a 311-hp 3.5-liter V-6. It may be largely shared with the Toyota Camry, but the engine feels properly luxurious with its quiet, refined operation and its good power. An 8-speed automatic can shuttle power to the rear wheels. With the optional all-wheel-drive system, Lexus subs in a 6-speed automatic. The all-wheel-drive system is a boon for winter climates where SUVs seem to have become the default, though buyers may want to invest in a set of dedicated winter tires.

The standard suspension is supple and spirited in its moves. The optional F Sport package swaps in slightly firmer settings and unlocks additional extra-cost items such as a useful limited-slip rear differential, rear-wheel steering, and a tweaked variable-ratio steering system. It’s even zippier, though it’s no match for the prodigious GS F. 

A 467-horsepower V-8 screams as power rushes rearward in the tuned GS F. Though the GS F can’t keep up with the latest BMW M5 or Mercedes-AMG E63, it’s not priced to compete with them. Instead, it offers old-school V-8 thrills against the rapid-fire power of a BMW M550i.

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6

2020 Lexus GS

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Lexus GS is luxurious inside, but not especially spacious.

Front-seat occupants are treated to first-class appointments in the 2020 Lexus GS. The standard 10-way power-adjustable thrones are wrapped in either convincing synthetic or soft real leather hides, and they offer all-day comfort. The plush front seats prompt us to award the 2020 GS a 6 out of 10 for its comfort. 

Rear-seat riders don’t have as much space, though the bench itself is nicely padded. Taller passengers will find limited head and legroom in back.

The trunk doesn’t impress, either. It can hold up to 18 cubic feet of cargo, which is a lot for a mid-size luxury sedan, but the space is shallow. The infotainment system controller is awkward to operate, at best, and its placement on the center console leaves a curious opening that attracts dust and dirt.

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2020 Lexus GS

Safety

The well-equipped 2020 Lexus GS hasn’t been crash tested.

We don’t have official crash-test data for the 2020 Lexus GS, so we can’t assign a safety score.

The mid-size luxury sedan starts off reasonably strong, however, with good collision-avoidance tech as standard. All versions come with a suite of gear that includes blind-spot monitors, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking that can detect pedestrians in the car’s path and apply the brakes.

The GS is relatively easy to see out of, and the standard rearview camera has a crisp, bright display.

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5

2020 Lexus GS

Features

Don’t look for Apple and Android connectivity on the 2020 Lexus GS.

The 2020 Lexus GS shows its relative age in its limited feature set. Just two engines are offered, and there are only a handful of option packages. The GS stands in contrast to the seemingly limitless customization options offered by German rivals. 

We give the 2020 GS a point above average for its good standard fare, but then we take that back because its dour infotainment system doesn’t even offer the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. That brings us to just 5 out of 10. 

The base GS sedan costs about $52,000 to start, with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Rear-drive sedans make use of a more advanced automatic transmission and come standard with leather upholstery, which offsets all-wheel drive. Standard features on all include power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, a power moonroof, a pair of USB ports, and a 12.3-inch widescreen. Plan to spend about $1,800 on the Premium Package that adds leather seats that are cooled up front and a few other goodies on an all-wheel-drive GS, since most are likely to be equipped with that reasonably priced package anyway.

We’d probably spend the roughly $1,500 Lexus charges for the F Sport as we think the package best unlocks the car’s personality. Another $1,400 buys a strong Mark Levinson audio system, while rear-wheel steering costs $1,700 and a limited-slip rear differential runs $500. For around $57,000 with all-wheel drive, a GS 350 F Sport offers a good value for a sporty mid-size sedan.

The GS F commands about $86,000, though it is a rare item at most dealers.

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4

2020 Lexus GS

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Lexus GS delivers just so-so fuel economy.

The 2020 Lexus GS could use a hybrid option if it wants to offer eco-friendly selling points. Oh, wait, it once had one. 

In the absence of that discontinued version, we rate the 2020 GS at 4 out of 10. 

The base sedan with rear-wheel drive is the thriftiest of the pack at 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined. The F-Sport’s stickier rubber dings those figures to 19/27/22 mpg. All-wheel-drive variants are slightly worse yet at 19/26/21 mpg.

Predictably, the 467-hp GS F is a guzzler at 16/24/19 mpg. 

All versions of the 2020 Lexus GS are rated to run on premium unleaded. 

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5.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety N/A
Features 5
Fuel Economy 4
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