2018 Lexus GS 350

2018 Lexus GS 350 Review

Comfort, sophistication and performance come together in the multitalented 2018 Lexus GS 350.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

The 2018 Lexus GS 350 is a multitalented luxury sedan that artfully blends comfort, sophistication and performance. Despite its advancing age — the current generation has been around for five years — the GS still makes a compelling choice with a well-appointed interior, eager powertrain, sure handling and a smooth ride. All-wheel drive is available for those who often drive in wet weather, and there's even an F Sport model that ratchets up the sporting quotient without sacrificing much comfort.

The heart of the GS 350 is a 311-horsepower V6 engine. It lacks the dominating thrust found in rival sedans with turbocharged or supercharged six-cylinder engines but nonetheless impresses with a smooth power delivery. Recent tech and safety upgrades, such as a full suite of driver aids including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane control, make the GS a more compelling choice than ever.

There are no significant changes for the 2018 model, although Lexus now includes its roadside and emergency assistance program free for a full 10 years, which should offer additional peace of mind for the long road trips to which the GS is so well-suited. With its incremental upgrades year over year, today's GS is even more luxurious, smooth, comfortable and engaging than it was at the outset.



what's new

The Lexus GS 350 rolls into 2018 without significant changes.

we recommend

With two trim levels and multiple options, it's easy (and costly) to equip the GS 350 nicely. But we recommend keeping it simple with the base rear-wheel-drive GS 350. It comes very well equipped and offers the highest fuel economy of the bunch. Unfortunately, you can't get the base RWD model with leather upholstery or heated and ventilated seats, but the faux leather seats are still really nice. One option we feel strongly about is the head-up display, which is especially useful on long trips. If you live in 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

The 2018 Lexus GS 350 midsize luxury sedan comes in two main versions: base and F Sport. Both are available with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Standard equipment for the rear-wheel-drive GS 350 includes a 3.5-liter V6 engine (311 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque), an eight-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof, ambient LED cabin lighting, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats (heated and ventilated), leather upholstery, driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a power rear sunshade.

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. Various 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.

Note that on the all-wheel-drive GS 350, leather upholstery is optional by way of the Premium package, which also includes the heated and ventilated front seats and power rear sunshade. A six-speed automatic transmission is used on this model instead of the eight-speed.

The rear-wheel-drive F Sport ups the ante on handling with 19-inch wheels with summer performance tires, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension 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. All-wheel drive is available, but it's not quite as sporty and doesn't have the option for four-wheel steering or the limited-slip rear differential.

On all GS 350s, key stand-alone options include parking sensors, a premium Mark Levinson sound system and a power-operated trunk.



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 | RWD).

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

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

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

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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 performance of class leaders.

Braking

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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

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We found the optional four-wheel dynamic rear steering 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

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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 2018 model's eight-speed transmission.)

Comfort

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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

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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 drivers found them a bit flat. And they're heated and ventilated.

Ride comfort

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Most 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

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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

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

Roominess

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

Visibility

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The 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. It has fantastic high-beam headlights for the open road, too.

Quality

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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

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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

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

Cargo space

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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. The 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

Has two pairs of LATCH anchors at the bottom and three 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 have to scoot up some.

Technology

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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

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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

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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.