2015 Lexus GS 350 Review
Pros & Cons
- Capable handling with refined ride comfort
- high-quality interior
- cutting-edge safety and entertainment technology.
- Electronics interface can be distracting to use.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Boasting a refined interior, plenty of high-tech features and class-competitive performance, the 2015 GS 350 can go toe to toe with the historically strong competitors from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
A couple of years ago Lexus fully redesigned its GS 350 midsize luxury sport sedan. We were impressed how the car gained new levels of desirability thanks to strong performance, plenty of features and a comfortable and luxurious interior. For 2015, the GS 350 continues to be a top pick in its class, as witnessed by its entry as one of our top recommended sedans in our 2015 Buying Guide.
Take a test-drive and you'll likely be impressed by the GS's sharp handling, which can be further bolstered by the F Sport package for those with a greater penchant for performance. Unlike other performance-focused sport sedans, though, this Lexus doesn't make significant comfort sacrifices. The GS 350 is equally suitable for daily commutes or long road trips. Add to that a quality interior with a generous helping of technology and the GS is poised to challenge the long established European choices.
New for 2015 is added functionality to the optional navigation upgrade. Drivers can now view and control up to three systems at a time (navigation, audio, climate control, etc.) with a multiple split-screen mode. Sadly, it's still saddled with the Lexus Remote Touch infotainment interface, which we find more awkward and distracting to use than some other rival systems.
Direct competitors include the 2015 Audi A6, 2015 BMW 5 Series and 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. For other, distinctly un-German takes on the luxury sport sedan, consideration could be given to the Cadillac CTS and Jaguar XF. Putting the 2015 Lexus GS 350 among these strong choices definitely speaks to its strengths as an all-around performer, and you'd do well to add this Edmunds.com "A" rated sedan to your short list.
2015 Lexus GS 350 models
Classified as a midsize luxury sport sedan, the 2015 Lexus GS 350 features seating for five and is offered in two trim levels: base and Crafted Line. The related GS 450h hybrid is covered in a separate review.
The base GS 350 comes standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights, LED accent lights, heated mirrors, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, driver-selectable drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow), auto-dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with two-way power lumbar), driver seat memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, matte wood trim and ambient lighting.
On the technology front, the GS 350 comes standard with Lexus' Remote Touch interface, an 8-inch central display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera and a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system with a CD player, satellite and HD radio, an iPod/USB interface and an auxiliary audio jack. Also included is Siri integration for select iPhones and the Lexus Enform smartphone app that can remotely start the engine, adjust climate control, monitor the vehicle's position and set limits and receive alerts for speed, distance and curfew.
There are many options available, but it's important to note that their availability and grouping with each other can depend on the region in which you live.
Bundled options include the Cold Weather package (heated steering wheel, a heavy-duty heater, headlamp washers, water-repellent front door glass and a wiper de-icer), the Premium package (heated and ventilated front seats, a power rear sunshade and automatic wipers) and the Luxury package (includes the Premium package plus 14-way-adjustable front seats, four-way power lumbar, adaptive headlights, an adaptive suspension with a Sport S+ mode, passenger seat memory functions, LED foglights, different 18-inch wheels, glossy interior wood trim, rear-seat climate and audio controls, manual rear door sunshades, upgraded leather upholstery and a wood-trimmed steering wheel). Heated rear seats can be added to the Luxury package. The Navigation system adds, beyond the obvious, voice controls, a larger 12.3-inch display and Enform smartphone app integration. An optional Blind Spot Monitor also includes rear cross traffic alerts and power-folding mirrors.
The performance-focused F Sport package also includes the Premium package and adds 19-inch wheels with performance tires (all-season tires for the AWD models), unique exterior styling, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, a variable-ratio steering system, upgraded brakes and 12-way-adjustable sport seats with four-way power lumbar.
A limited-edition GS 350 called the Crafted Line adds to the F Sport package with unique paint, a two-tone black and red interior, a two-piece set of Tumi luggage, blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alerts, front and rear parking sensors and the aforementioned navigation system.
Available stand-alone options for the base GS 350 include lane keeping assist, a pre-collision warning and vehicle preparation system (includes a driver drowsiness monitor), adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, an automated parallel parking system, a Dynamic Handling system with rear steering, and a 17-speaker premium Mark Levinson sound system.
Performance & mpg
Powering the 2015 Lexus GS 350 is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. The standard rear-wheel-drive models receive an eight-speed automatic transmission while the optional all-wheel-drive versions get a six-speed. Both come with manual control via paddle shifters.
In Edmunds testing of an older rear-wheel-drive GS 350 with a six-speed transmission, it accelerated to 60 mph in a respectable 5.8 seconds. With the newer eight-speed transmission, we expect it to reach 60 mph a few tenths quicker.
An automatic stop-start function helps to conserve fuel, which is good since the GS requires premium gas. The EPA estimates the rear-wheel drive GS 350 will deliver 23 mpg combined (19 city/29 highway). The all-wheel-drive model is slightly more thirsty at 21 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway).
Standard safety features for the 2015 Lexus GS 350 include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front and rear side airbags, a rearview camera and front seat active head restraints. The standard Enform Safety Connect system includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location and an emergency assist button.
Optional safety features include front and rear parking sensors, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, a driver drowsiness monitor and a frontal collision warning that also primes the brakes for maximum effectiveness and tightens the seatbelts.
In Edmunds testing, a GS 350 with the F Sport package came to a stop from 60 mph in 112 feet, which is average for a car in this class with summer tires. In crash testing performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the GS earned the highest score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test. It also earned a "Good" score for the side-impact, roof strength and seats and head restraints (rear-impact whiplash protection) tests.
In base form, the 2015 Lexus GS 350 provides a good balance of luxurious comfort and sporty performance. The ride quality is smooth on a variety of road surfaces and the cabin remains blissfully quiet, with barely a hint of wind or road noise. The engine is also well silenced for the majority of the time. Competitors have opted to turbocharge their engines, but since the GS 350 uses one of the few naturally aspirated V6s in the segment, drivers will need to get the revs up fairly high to tap its power potential. Engine noise is noticeable when driving harder, but not unpleasant or raspy.
On a winding mountain road, the GS 350 is well planted to the road and provides a fair amount of handling performance. Those who desire more should be drawn to the F Sport package that increases road holding prowess and driver engagement with variable-ratio and rear-wheel steering systems. The larger 19-inch wheels, stiffer suspension and performance tires do degrade comfort a bit, though.
As with most other Lexus vehicles, the 2015 GS 350 benefits from a well-crafted interior with quality materials. With supple leather and attractive wood and aluminum trim, it rivals the quality found in its German competitors. The front seats provide plenty of adjustments, support and padding for hours of comfortable touring. Upgrading to the F Sport package will enhance lateral support further, with adjustable side bolsters and additional thigh support. The rear seats have enough head- and legroom for two adults.
New for 2015 is an upgraded screen included with the navigation system that gives the driver the ability to view and control up to three systems via a triple split screen. Unfortunately, Lexus' Remote Touch interface is the only way to control the infotainment system. This interface uses an awkward mouselike device that makes selecting on-screen buttons difficult when stationary, and even more problematic when moving. The problems are further complicated by a lack of physical shortcut buttons.
Cargo capacity is about average for the class, with 14.1 cubic feet of capacity, but the rear seats do not fold to offer additional space. There is a center trunk pass-through for larger objects, though.