The 2018 Lexus GS 300 is an affordable luxury sedan that represents the starting point of the Lexus GS range. Priced below the more powerful GS 350, the GS 300 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine good for 241 horsepower. It's a sufficient, though hardly exciting, amount of power. The upside is the GS 300's lower price and higher fuel economy.
The rest of the GS 300's qualities are familiar. Equipped with the optional F Sport package, it's one of the more enjoyable midsize luxury sedans to drive thanks to its sporty suspension and steering. Inside, you'll find a high-quality cabin fitted with a decent number of standard features. Additional features are available to keep the entry-level GS 300 competitive with pricier luxury machines.
As is the case with the rest of the GS range, the 300's main drawback is its infotainment interface. It requires too much driver attention to operate it properly, and tech-savvy drivers might not enjoy using Lexus' native smartphone integration system. Overall, though, the 2018 GS 300's value keeps this sedan in positive territory. It's worth a look if you're shopping for a reasonably priced luxury sedan.
The 2018 GS 300 is a new name for last year's GS 200t. Otherwise, the car is unchanged.
We prefer the extra power of the GS 350 and suggest checking out that version of the GS as well. But if you're set on the GS 300, ordering simply comes down to which options you want. The F Sport variant adds style points and sharper handling but seems a little out of place for a GS 300. Get the Navigation and Premium packages since they add coveted luxury car must-haves such as ventilated leather seats, a rear power sunshade and a large 12.3-inch display.
The 2018 Lexus GS 300 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine (241 hp, 258 pound-feet of torque), an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Feature highlights include 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, keyless ignition and entry, simulated leather upholstery, a sunroof, power-adjustable and heated front seats, driver-seat memory settings, and an automatic climate control system.
Technology features include Lexus' Remote Touch infotainment interface, a navigation system, voice controls, smartphone app integration, a 12.3-inch display screen and a 12-speaker sound system. A broad range of driver safety aids (blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and the Lexus Safety System+ suite of advanced active safety features) are also included.
Heated and ventilated front seats, automatic wipers and a power rear sunshade are optional by way of the Premium package, and the available 18-inch wheel upgrade offers a same-cost choice between all-season and stickier three-season summer performance tires.
The optional F Sport version ups the ante on the handling front by adding 19-inch wheels with performance tires, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, bigger front brakes, more aggressive front and rear styling, and a rear trunklid spoiler. Inside you'll find leather upholstery, power sport seats, all of the Premium Package content, and different interior trim pieces.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test and an extended yearlong test of the 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport (3.5L V6 | 6-speed automatic | RWD).
NOTE: The GS 300 and its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and eight-speed transmission didn't exist when this test was conducted. But the car itself and its features and options are largely identical, apart from one or two upgrades such as LED headlights. Except for these factors, our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's GS 300.
The Lexus GS 300 is nimble and moves out nicely, but it's also effortlessly smooth and poised. Acceleration is adequate but far from exhilarating.
We've only tested the 3.5-liter V6 in the GS. For that engine, we measured a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds. We have not tested a 300, but Lexus estimates a 0-60 mph time of 7 seconds, which should translate to adequate, but far from exhilarating, performance.
The GS' firm and sure brake pedal tends toward jumpy, but you'll readily get used to it. The car tends to exhibit some nosedive during harder stops, and our measured panic-stop distance from 60 mph is about average for premium sedans with summer-rated tires.
The GS cruises arrow-straight on the open road, and it feels nimble when going around turns.
In F Sport trim, the GS drives like a much smaller and lighter car. It feels nimble and delivers impressive cornering response, but there's also a good deal of grip and overall stability.
We have not yet evaluated the 300's turbo engine and eight-speed transmission. In our test of the related IS 300 sedan (which has the same engine and transmission), we noted that the eight-speed automatic transmission's shifting can feel languid at times.
Though the GS is a sport-oriented sedan, it doesn't abandon comfort in the pursuit of achieving that title. The optional F Sport seats are comfy, the ride is smooth, and the cabin is generally quiet and well-ventilated.
The optional F Sport seats are a highlight: sufficiently bolstered for sporty driving but still comfortable and easy to get out of. The seat bottoms deliver excellent thigh support, though some did find them a bit flat. And they're heated and ventilated.
An adaptive variable suspension system helps the F Sport split the difference between sport sedan and proper Lexus. The ride is generally smooth and controlled with little harshness on rough roads.
Noise & vibration
A bit of road noise emanates from the large (and optional) summer performance tires, but it stops short of being bothersome. And there's precious little wind noise, even at elevated highway speeds.
Dual-zone climate controls are prominently located, clearly marked and easy to understand. The air vents put out a nice volume of air, and rear passengers have a pair of their own. The F Sport package adds heated and ventilated seats, and a heated steering wheel is optional.
The 2017 GS 300 is blessed with a fairly roomy and comfortable interior that oozes quality and refinement. There's very little to complain about apart from one thing: the unique but awkward mouse-style interface that controls the entertainment and navigation system.
Ease of use
The majority of the GS' switches, buttons and knobs are easy to use and understand without cracking open the owner's manual. But there is one prominent sore spot that takes points off: the mouse-style infotainment system controller. It's novel but demands too much attention.
Getting in/getting out
There's a lot to like in this category. The doors open wide, the sills are narrow and, as sedans go, the seats are comfortably high. It's generally easy to get in or out without the need to stoop or do deep knee bends.
Numerous seat adjustments and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with a fairly generous adjustment range made it easy for a wide variety of drivers to settle in comfortably at the controls with a clear view out over the hood.
The GS 300 is a sizable car, with an interior to match. Up front you'll find lots of hip-, head- and legroom as well as shoulder room. The story is much the same in the back seat, too, unless you and the person seated directly ahead are both quite tall.
A generous glass area gives the GS excellent forward and side visibility, and the rear three-quarter blind spot is minimal due to the carefully sculpted rear roof pillar. Front and rear parking sensors and a rear camera take care of the rest. High-beam headlights are fantastic on the open road, too.
Everything you touch in the Lexus GS 300 looks and feels high-quality and purpose-built. The important pieces such as the steering wheel, the shifter, and even the knee side of the center console offer extra padding and quality leather.
The GS' trunk is usefully shaped and quite big, but you might not like it if you like to fold down the rear seats to carry larger items now and then because the GS can't do that. The interior provides a reasonable but not memorable amount of storage and it plays well with most child safety seats.
It has a useful glovebox, two cupholders ahead of the shifter, and a medium-size center console that opens wide. The front door pockets are a decent size but won't hold a water bottle. The rear door pockets are small but will accept a bottle. The rear center armrest has a storage bin and cupholders.
The trunk is quite spacious because it is wide near the mouth, deep along the floor, and accessible through a broad opening. Hidden hinges won't crush bags. Thing is, the rear seatbacks do not fold down to expand the space except for a slender ski pass-through that seems like a consolation prize.
Child safety seat accommodation
It has two pairs of LATCH anchors at the bottom and three top-tether anchors along the top. But the bottom LATCH anchors are tightly recessed between the seat cushions. Rear legroom is generous enough for most rear-facing seats to fit, but tall front occupants might still have to scoot up some.
This year the Lexus Safety System+ suite of driver aids is now standard. The 300's complementary audio and navigation system uses an older iteration of the GS 350's software, but phone pairing and the voice controls still measure up. We're not fans of the audio and navigation controller.
Audio & navigation
The Mark Levinson sound system sounds great, and it has simple and effective volume and tune knobs. Higher audio functions and the navigation system require the use of a quirky interface that's not that easy to use without diverting attention away from driving.
The GS 300's system uses the same software found in our older 2013 GS 350. In that car, Bluetooth phone pairing was a simple process. USB smartphone access was a simple matter of plug and play, but we had trouble getting album artwork to display consistently.
The previously optional Lexus Safety System+ is now standard. It includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, intelligent high-beam control, and lane departure warning with mitigation. Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert is standard, too.
The GS 300's system uses the same software found in our older 2013 GS 350, in which successful voice activation required deliberate speech and a specific command structure. Those with an iPhone have the option of holding the voice button longer to engage Siri on their phone instead.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.