Not only are buyers shying away from mainstream sedans, but the future of the luxury sedan market is also in flux as buyers move to crossovers. Over at Lexus the future of two of its sedans, the IS and GS are in jeopardy as even Lexus has admitted that it’s currently evaluating both sedans. While the Lexus GS may soon get pushed out of the lineup, it competes in the meat of the luxury sedan segment with a long list of rivals, including the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Genesis G80 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
To give us a taste of the GS’s potential, Lexus dropped the keys off to a 2018 Lexus GS 350 F Sport, which sits in the middle of the GS lineup, between the four-cylinder GS 300 and the GS 450 hybrid. If you want something a bit more over the top, Lexus does also offer the high performance 467-hp GS F.
The GS 350 F Sport is powered by a 3.5L V6 with 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available if you need it. The GS 350 F Sport is no slouch since it only takes 5.7 seconds to reach 60 mph on its way to a top speed of 143 mph.
The rear-wheel drive GS 350 F Sport is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. If you choose the all-wheel drive version, it’s rated at 19 in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Compared to the standard GS 350, the GS 350 F Sport adds a sportier suspension, 19-inch wheels, 14-inch front brake rotors and more aggressive exterior styling.
With 311 horsepower on tap, the GS 350 F Sport picks up speed with ease and you can dial up the performance a bit by switching the dial to either the Sport S or Sport S+ driving modes. While previous Lexus sedans have been criticized for being a bit too soft, the GS 350 F Sport feels and drives like a true sport sedan. The transmission downshifts quickly and the steering does provide adequate feedback. Compared to the Genesis G80 Sport, the GS 350 Sport also feels a bit more nimble, especially when the road gets a bit twisty.
While the 2018 GS 450 F Sport does have the athletic experience that sport sedan buyers demand, that doesn’t mean that the interior takes a hit. The GS 350 F Sport’s interior is as quiet and comfortable as you’d expect from any sedan with a Lexus badge on the grille. Inside the interior has more than enough room for four passengers, although the fifth passenger in the middle of the rear seat may not want to sit there too long, since knee room is a bit limited.
While the GS 350 F Sport’s interior is comfortable and on par with its rivals, its tech features may leave you wanting a bit more. For starters Lexus uses the Remote Touch multimedia controller to access the infotainment system with its massive 12.3-inch screen, which takes a bit to get used to since it’s mouselike controller isn’t as easy to use as a touchscreen system. Lexus also hasn’t fully embraced Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, so if you rely on either system to get you through your trip, you’ll be a bit disappointed.
With a starting price at $46,510, the 2018 Lexus GS represents a nice value over some of its rivals that cost thousands more, like the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The Lexus GS may not have much longer in this world, since it’s already been discontinued in Europe and there’s a rumor that the next-generation IS could replace it. But for now, the 2018 Lexus GS 350 F Sport is a competent sport sedan that can hold its own against its German rivals. Its combination of sporty handling, several engine options and a lower starting price makes the 2018 GS a strong rival. Even if the Lexus GS does eventually disappear, after four generations, the GS has continued its fight against its German rivals and this latest version is the best one yet.