2017 Lexus GS 350

2017 Lexus GS 350 Review

The GS 350 is a multitalented luxury sedan that offers comfort, sophistication and performance.
4 star edmunds overall rating
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Edmunds
Edmunds Editor

The current generation of the GS 350 first hit the market as a 2013 model, and after a full year in one, we came away mighty impressed by its well-appointed and accommodating interior, willing powertrain, sure handling and smooth ride. But Lexus did not rest on its laurels. In 2014, the 3.5-liter V6 was treated to a new fuel-injection system, and rear-wheel-drive versions received a new eight-speed transmission. Just last year, a lower-priced GS 200t turbocharged four-cylinder model was added one rung lower in the GS lineup, and the GS 350 received a mild V6 engine power increase and an infotainment system upgrade.

In other words, the fourth-generation GS 350 has been incrementally improved year over year from its strong initial starting point. Today, it's even more the luxurious, smooth, comfortable and engaging midsize luxury sedan it was at the outset.



what's new

The 2017 Lexus GS 350 makes formerly optional driver safety aids standard equipment. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with mitigation and automatic high-beam control. Performance-minded buyers can now add an optional limited-slip rear differential to the rear-wheel-drive F Sport model. And the all-wheel-drive GS 350 now has the lowest cost of entry because it alone comes standard with simulated-leather upholstery, with leather optional.


we recommend

Our money is on the base rear-wheel-drive GS 350 because it comes very well equipped and has the highest fuel economy of the bunch. And unlike the AWD version, the Premium package and its leather seats are standard. The only option that we feel strongly about is the head-up display, which proved especially useful on long road trips. If you in live an area with cold and snowy weather, though, the GS 350 AWD with the added Premium package is the all-weather version of the same car.




trim levels & features

Choice is something the GS 350 lineup provides in abundance. At its core, it's a well-equipped rear-wheel-drive luxury machine powered by a 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, and that's what you get when you buy the base GS 350. Step up to the F Sport for a sportier look and sharper handling. Those in snow country can buy all-wheel-drive versions called the base AWD and the F Sport AWD.

Oddly enough, the base AWD version is the price leader this year because the formerly standard leather interior is now optional on this one model. Also, all-wheel-drive models retain the six-speed automatic transmission.

Eighteen-inch wheels and all-season tires are standard, as are LED headlights and heated, power-folding mirrors. The interior is very comprehensively equipped with things such as keyless ignition and entry, a sunroof, power-adjustable and heated front seats, driver-seat memory settings, and an automatic climate control system that optimizes airflow based on where passengers are seated. Standard tech content includes Bluetooth, the 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 variety of driver safety aids (blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and the Lexus Safety System Plus suite of advanced active safety features) are also included.

Leather is optional by way of the Premium package, which also includes heated and ventilated front seats, automatic wipers and a power rear sunshade.

Next up the price ladder is the base GS 350, which is a rear-wheel-drive machine that is otherwise identical except that it comes standard with leather seats and the other Premium package items, and it has variable gear ratio steering and an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-season tires are once again standard, but stickier summer tires are a zero-cost option.

The rear-wheel-drive F Sport ups the ante on the handling front by adding 19-inch, staggered-width wheels and summer performance tires, a sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension (AVS) and bigger front brakes. It offers the option of four-wheel steering or a limited-slip rear differential. The F Sport has more aggressive front and rear bumper and grille styling, power sport seats and different interior trim pieces.

Finally there's the F Sport AWD, which is identical to the F Sport on the inside but reverts to a six-speed automatic transmission. Its 19-inch wheels are the same width all around, and they are shod with all-season tires that are better suited to snow and cold weather. For similar reasons, the bigger brakes are absent, and the steering ratio is fixed instead of variable.

Those who are not interested in the F Sport but like some of its appointments may want to consider adding the Luxury package to a GS 350 or GS 350 AWD. This option pairs 19-inch all-season tires with the AVS suspension and outfits the interior with wood trim, upgraded power front seats, premium leather, heated rear seats, and three-zone climate control with rear-seat climate and audio controls.



Oddly enough, the base AWD version is the price leader this year because the formerly standard leather interior is now optional on this one model. Also, all-wheel-drive models retain the six-speed automatic transmission.

Eighteen-inch wheels and all-season tires are standard, as are LED headlights and heated, power-folding mirrors. The interior is very comprehensively equipped with things such as keyless ignition and entry, a sunroof, power-adjustable and heated front seats, driver-seat memory settings, and an automatic climate control system that optimizes airflow based on where passengers are seated. Standard tech content includes Bluetooth, the 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 variety of driver safety aids (blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and the Lexus Safety System Plus suite of advanced active safety features) are also included.

Leather is optional by way of the Premium package, which also includes heated and ventilated front seats, automatic wipers and a power rear sunshade.

Next up the price ladder is the base GS 350, which is a rear-wheel-drive machine that is otherwise identical except that it comes standard with leather seats and the other Premium package items, and it has variable gear ratio steering and an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-season tires are once again standard, but stickier summer tires are a zero-cost option.

The rear-wheel-drive F Sport ups the ante on the handling front by adding 19-inch, staggered-width wheels and summer performance tires, a sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension (AVS) and bigger front brakes. It offers the option of four-wheel steering or a limited-slip rear differential. The F Sport has more aggressive front and rear bumper and grille styling, power sport seats and different interior trim pieces.

Finally there's the F Sport AWD, which is identical to the F Sport on the inside but reverts to a six-speed automatic transmission. Its 19-inch wheels are the same width all around, and they are shod with all-season tires that are better suited to snow and cold weather. For similar reasons, the bigger brakes are absent, and the steering ratio is fixed instead of variable.

Those who are not interested in the F Sport but like some of its appointments may want to consider adding the Luxury package to a GS 350 or GS 350 AWD. This option pairs 19-inch all-season tires with the AVS suspension and outfits the interior with wood trim, upgraded power front seats, premium leather, heated rear seats, and three-zone climate control with rear-seat climate and audio controls.

trim tested

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 (3.5-liter V6; 6-speed automatic).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the GS 350 has received some upgrades, including an eight-speed automatic transmission for the rear-wheel-drive models, a more sophisticated fuel-injection system, engine upgrades that added 5 horsepower, LED headlights and more capable entertainment system software. Our initial findings remain broadly applicable to this year's GS 350.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.5 / 5.0
Braking3.5 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0
Climate control4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.5 / 5.0

Ease of use3.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.5 / 5.0
Driving position4.5 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility4.5 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.5 / 5.0
Cargo space4.0 / 5.0

Technology

4.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation3.0 / 5.0
Driver aids5.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The Lexus GS 350 F Sport is nimble and moves out nicely, but it's also effortlessly smooth and poised. We have mixed feelings about the rear steering, but at least it's only an option. Our F Sport's summer tires are not meant for cold climates, but an all-wheel-drive version is available.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The 3.5-liter V6 packs considerable punch across a wide range, it's ultra smooth, and it makes great noises when you rev it. Before the recent power and transmission upgrade, we measured a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds, which lags slightly behind the class leaders.

braking

edmunds rating
The GS 350's 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 0-60 mph panic-stop distance is about average for premium sedans with three-season summer tires.

steering

edmunds rating
We found the optional four-wheel steering (DRS) to be quick and precise yet very light, which added up to an overeager feeling that may not be for everyone. That said, our GS still cruised arrow-straight on the open road, and it could make exceptionally tight U-turns.

handling

edmunds rating
In F Sport trim, the GS 350 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.

drivability

The six-speed automatic shifts with incredible smoothness. Sport and Normal driving modes offer drivers a choice of steering effort and throttle response maps. (Note: We have not yet evaluated the 2017 model's eight-speed transmission.)

comfort

edmunds rating
Though the Lexus GS 350 F Sport bills itself as a sport sedan, it doesn't abandon comfort in the pursuit of achieving that title. The F Sport seats are comfy, the ride is smooth, and the cabin is generally quiet and well-ventilated.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The F Sport leather sport seats proved to be 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.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
An adaptive variable suspension system helps this GS 350 split the difference between sport sedan and proper Lexus. The ride is generally smooth and controlled with little harshness on rough roads.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
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.

climate control

edmunds rating
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.

interior

edmunds rating
The GS 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

edmunds rating
The majority of the GS 350's 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

edmunds rating
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 very easy to get in or out without the need to stoop or do deep knee bends.

driving position

edmunds rating
Numerous seat adjustments and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with a fairly generous adjustment range make it easy for a wide variety of drivers to settle in comfortably at the controls with a clear view out over the hood.

roominess

edmunds rating
The GS 350 is a sizable car, with an interior to match. Up front you'll find lots of hip, leg, head and shoulder room. The story is much the same in the backseat, too, unless you and the person seated directly ahead are both quite tall.

visibility

edmunds rating
Generous glass area gives the GS excellent forward and side visibility, and the rear three-quarter blind spot is minimal because of the carefully sculpted rear roof pillar. Front and rear parking sensors and a rear camera take care of the rest. Fantastic high-beam headlights on the open road, too.

quality

edmunds rating
Everything you touch in the Lexus GS F Sport looks and feels high-quality and purpose-built. The important pieces such as the steering wheel, shifter and even the knee side of the center console offer extra padding and quality leather.

utility

edmunds rating
The GS' trunk is usefully shaped and quite big, but you may not like it if you're the sort who folds down the rear seats to carry larger items now and then; 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.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
Has a useful glovebox, two cupholders ahead of the shifter and a medium-sized center console that opens wide. Front door pockets are decent-sized, but they won't hold a water bottle; rear door pockets are small, but they will accept a bottle. The rear center armrest has a storage bin and cupholders.

cargo space

edmunds rating
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 accomodation

edmunds rating
Has two pairs of LATCH anchors at the bottom and three top-tether anchors along the top. Bottom LATCH anchors are tightly recessed between the seat cushions, though. Rear legroom is generous enough for most rear-facing seats to fit, but tall front occupants might still have to scoot up some.

technology

edmunds rating
This year the Lexus Safety System Plus suite of driver aids is now standard on all trims. We have not yet tested recent improvements in voice controls and phone-pairing software, but the performance of the original makes us confident. We're still not fans of the audio and navigation controller.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
The Mark Levinson sound system sounds great, and it has simple 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 wide screen permits tri-zone image display.

smartphone integration

New changes to the software are said to improve Bluetooth pairing and hard-wired USB connection speed. We have not yet tried out this latest version, but we expect good performance because the older iteration performed reasonably well.

driver aids

edmunds rating
The previously optional Lexus Safety System Plus 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.

voice control

New voice control software has been introduced, but we have not yet fully tested it. The last version was stilted and left room for improvement. Those with an iPhone still have the option of holding the voice button longer to directly engage Siri on their phone and make calls that way.

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.