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2018 Lexus GS: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 12/26/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked on the side of a road: 2018 Lexus GS© Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 2018 Lexus GS

The 2018 Lexus GS boasts a spacious, elegant cabin and a wealth of standard features. It's a great car, but it gets a midpack ranking because some rivals are better overall.

Is the Lexus GS a Good Car?

The Lexus GS is an excellent luxury midsize car with an above-average predicted reliability rating and solid crash test scores. It also comes standard with an impressive number of advanced safety features. The GS has sporty and engaging handling, and a comfortable ride makes its performance incredibly well rounded. One of the few downsides to this vehicle is its convoluted infotainment controls. The display is not a touch screen, and most settings are accessed using a distracting mouselike controller.

Should I Buy the Lexus GS?

If you're looking for an upscale sedan, the GS should be on your short list. A wide range of trims and powertrains means there’s a model for everyone. The base GS 300 is an excellent choice for a relaxing cruiser, while the GS 350 ratchets up performance with a more powerful engine. The range-topping GS F competes with the high-performance sports sedan trims of the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Those German rivals are excellent cars in their own regard, and you’ll find all of them at the top of the class.

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus GS?

For 2018, Lexus changed the base model's name from the GS 200t to the GS 300. However, these vehicles are largely the same, so you can likely save money by shopping for a 2017 GS. You can save even more by shopping for older models, but be aware that Lexus has made some changes to the GS over the years.

The 2015 GS received a new infotainment system. The 2016 model saw an exterior refresh, along with the addition of two trims: the entry-level 200t and the performance-oriented GS F. For 2017, navigation and the Lexus Safety System+ became standard. Also, a limited-slip differential and an adaptive variable suspension became available.

To research some other models in this generation, read our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Lexus GS. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

We Did the Research for You: 37 Reviews Analyzed

Our Lexus GS review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional car reviews from 37 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision. This 2018 Lexus GS review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2013 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Lexus GS Cost?

Prices for the 2018 GS 300 start at $46,310, which is typical for a luxury midsize car. Other trim levels include the GS 350 ($50,695) and the GS F ($84,350). The hybrid GS 450h ($63,635) is reviewed separately. 

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus GS Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus GS or Audi A6?

The Audi A6 and Lexus GS are both first-rate luxury midsize cars. The GS has the edge when it comes to predicted reliability, and it also comes standard with a ton of safety features. The A6, however, has a more modern and user-friendly infotainment system, and you can opt for features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (neither of which are available in the GS). The A6 boasts thrilling performance, and we named it our 2018 Best Luxury Midsize Car for Families because of its space, features, and wealth of critical praise. The A6 is a slightly better choice.

Which Is Better: Lexus GS or Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is another excellent luxury midsize car. Its driving dynamics seamlessly meld sport and comfort, and there are high-performance Mercedes-AMG variants, including a 603-horsepower V8-powered model. This Benz also has comfortable seats and a rich collection of standard features. The E-Class is a bit better than the GS, but it also costs more: The E-Class starts at almost $6,700 more than the GS.

Which Is Better: Lexus GS or BMW 5 Series?

The BMW 5 Series is a brilliant luxury sedan that delivers some of the best overall performance in the class. Count the blistering M550i and the eco-friendly plug-in hybrid 530e among its iterations. BMW’s base infotainment system is easy to use, and optional amenities like gesture control and a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound stereo are sure to tempt you. If you can't afford the 5 Series' steep price tag, the GS is still an appealing choice, but the BMW is better.

Compare the GS, A6, and E-Class »

GS Interior

How Many People Does the GS Seat?

The five-seat GS sedan is a cushy place to spend the day. It comes standard with synthetic leather upholstery and 10-way power-adjustable front seats. Genuine leather and heated front seats are available. The cushions are comfortable, and adults have enough space to ride in the front or back. 

GS and Car Seats

The Lexus has three sets of tether anchors and two sets of lower anchors. Thick seat cushions, hard-to-reach lower anchors, and some space limitations can make installing a child safety seat difficult.

GS Interior Quality

The GS feels very opulent inside. The cabin is well-built and offers materials of the highest quality (perforated leather, aluminum accents, and open-pore walnut trim are among the available options).

GS Cargo Space

The GS has one of the largest trunks in the class, measuring 18.4 cubic feet. That's enough room to accommodate a decent amount of luggage for everyone on board, and it beats out the trunks of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and Cadillac CTS by a wide margin.

GS Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The best part about the GS' infotainment system is the wealth of features that are included in every model. There are basics like Bluetooth and HD Radio, as well as a 12-speaker surround-sound system, a DVD player, and enhanced voice commands. Lexus also offers a package that pairs a massive 12.3-inch screen with navigation and smartphone integration. That said, this is a frustrating system to use, especially for the driver. The primary controller between the seats resembles a computer mouse; it moves awkwardly and compels the driver to take their eyes off the road for long periods of time. 

Read more about interior »

GS Performance

GS Engine: Three Polished Powertrains

Lexus offers three refined engines for the GS, with each attached to a different trim level. The base engine, a turbocharged four-cylinder, is a good companion for cruising. It's powerful enough to get up to speed with little drama, and it is the most fuel-efficient of the bunch. The midlevel GS 350 comes with a naturally aspirated V6 engine that feels much meatier. The GS F boosts performance dramatically with a 467-horsepower V8. An eight-speed automatic transmission accompanies each engine. 

GS Gas Mileage: Average

The GS 300, which features a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, gets 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. That's typical fuel economy for a luxury midsize car. Gas mileage slips a little to 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway in V6-powered models. The fuel-efficient GS 450h hybrid (reviewed separately) delivers an EPA-estimated 29/34 mpg city/highway.

GS Ride and Handling: Nimble and Comfortable

The GS is a fun-to-drive sedan, with both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions available. It comes standard with Drive Mode Select, so you can set performance to Normal, Sport, or Eco. Select models also come with the Sport+ setting. Handling is composed and comfortable, ranging from the laid-back GS 300 to the athletic GS F.

Read more about performance »

GS Reliability

Is the Lexus GS Reliable?

The 2018 Lexus GS has a predicted reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power, which is above average.

Lexus GS Warranty

Lexus covers the 2018 GS with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

GS Safety

GS Crash Test Results

The 2018 Lexus GS has only been sparingly crash tested. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the GS the top grade in all three crash tests it conducted. IIHS also notes that the Lexus' pre-collision system with pedestrian braking (a standard safety feature) provides a Basic level of front crash prevention.

GS Safety Features

The majority of advanced safety features that Lexus offers in the GS are standard. This includes a rearview camera, automatic high beams, lane departure warning with steering assist, lane keep assist, a pre-collision system that features pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. Rain-sensing windshield wipers, parking sensors, and a head-up display are also available.

Read more about safety »

Which Lexus GS Model Is Right for Me?

When building your GS, first decide how much power you want. The GS 300 comes with a 241-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Under the hood of the midlevel GS 350 is a 311-horsepower V6 engine. Lexus saves its most powerful engine for the GS F: a 467-horsepower V8. Rear-wheel drive is standard in every model, and all-wheel drive is available in the GS 350.

For added performance in one of the lower-priced trims, Lexus offers the F Sport package. Notable features include a sport-tuned suspension system, the Sport+ drive mode, a 16-way power-adjustable driver's sport seat, aluminum pedals, and unique badging.

If you're in search of a luxurious sedan that's powerful enough to escort you through town with ease, you'll find a lot to love about the GS 300. It contains almost the same amount of standard amenities as the upper trim levels, including a well-equipped infotainment system and an impressive suite of advanced safety technology. Available packages let you add on upgrades like navigation, heated and ventilated front seats, and enhanced smartphone integration. Leather seats are not offered in this trim. 

Lexus GS 300

The base GS 300 ($46,310) comes with synthetic leather upholstery (called NuLux), 10-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, LED ambient lighting, a proximity key, and push-button start. Standard technology includes an 8-inch display screen, a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, a DVD player, HD Radio, satellite radio, Siri Eyes Free, a rearview camera, automatic high beams, lane departure warning with steering assist, lane keep assist, a pre-collision system that features pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. Pricing on the GS 300 F Sport starts at $50,900.

Lexus GS 350  

In addition to its V6 engine, the $50,695 GS 350 has a 12.3-inch display screen with navigation and smartphone integration via the Lexus Enform App Suite. Selecting all-wheel drive lowers the price by $300, and the F Sport package costs $1,365.

Lexus GS F  

The high-performance GS F ($84,350) features a V8 engine and goodies like navigation, heated front seats, and leather upholstery.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

See 2018 Lexus GS specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Lexus GS is an outstanding luxury midsize sedan with enviable reliability and great safety scores. Its sticker price starts thousands of dollars below that of the BMW 5 Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class. High-grade materials and sophisticated styling highlight its cozy, quiet cabin. One of its few shortcomings is an infotainment system with a difficult controller. We recommend shoppers spend some time testing it out to see if it’s a deal breaker.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2018 Lexus GS review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.


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