The 2020 Lexus GS is a stylish, sporty sedan for nonconformists. While it may be on borrowed time, but that’s no reason to skip this stylish, strong-performing mid-size luxury sedan. The 2020 model year will be the final call for the Lexus GS lineup, and that includes the fantastic high-performance GS F. With a lovely V-8 engine, proper rear-wheel-drive proportions, and a great interior, the 2020 Lexus GS F speaks to me, but the competition has better moves, more power, and less conventional designs. That’s before we even address the infotainment system. Lexus sells only a handful of GS sedans annually, and this year the 2020 GS lineup is pared down to just the GS 350 and GS F models as the GS 300 and its standard turbo-4 bites the dust. The GS is reasonably priced given its level of luxury, and highly refined. I spent a week in my favorite Lexus, the GS F, before it exits stage right this fall. Here’s where it hits and misses.
The GS F stands out most for its proportions, though. Look at all that sheet metal between the front wheel and driver door. It’s a giveaway that this car is powered by the rear wheels making it look elegant and sporty. The gaping Lexus spindle grille is controversial, but the flared and vented front fenders, gaping intakes on either side of the front bumper to feed the radiators, and ducts in the front bumper that route air to the brakes are all there for a reason. Functional design is underappreciated and always has a special place in my heart. Then there are the gorgeous 19-inch BBS forged-alloy wheels that glimmer like diamonds when the sunlight hits them the right way. The slotted brake rotors look great tucked behind the BBS wheels, too, but I recommend the optional blue brake calipers that my test car didn’t have. The jewel-like LED headlights almost twinkle when lit. With its buttoned-down looks, the 2020 Lexus GS still draws attention.
You won’t find any turbochargers here. The GS F is powered by a silky-smooth naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 with 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque. Its 8-speed automatic shifts are as rapid-fire quick as those of the ZF 8-speed in the German rivals or nearly every high-performance dual-clutch setup on the market, plus it shifts cleanly and responsively as the 5.0 revs out to a glorious 7,300 rpm. The 5.0 is down on power compared to cars like the Audi RS 6, BMW M5, and Mercedes E63, but the noises it makes take a back seat to no competitor. Power doesn’t come on as suddenly as it does in those forced-induction rivals, but it is more linear and certainly satisfying. The 2020 Lexus GS can thrill when called upon.
The GS F starts with the GS’s bones, which is a worthy structure, and takes things further with four additional underbody braces. The GS’s double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension are upgraded with aluminum links for increased rigidity and less unsprung weight. The geometry is tweaked all around and the bushings and spring rates are all stiffer. The final piece of the puzzle is the Sachs dampers at all four corners. The result? Pull into a driveway at an angle and the stiff structure doesn’t flinch or twist. Roll down broken Midwest pavement and you’ll be keenly aware of every expansion joint that heaved during winter. But this is still a Lexus, and the suspension suffers from no bone-jarring crashes. It’s a firm ride, but completely liveable as a daily driver even in Minnesota. The GS F isn’t softer than its German competitors despite the Lexus badge. The GS F never rose to the top of its class, but it never cost as much as its rivals either. It’s been overshadowed and outgunned by the more-powerful German competition, but it’s interior is superb and its engine offers a more linear and natural feel than the turbocharged V-8s from Germany.
Fuel economy is unimpressive against rivals exceeding 30 mpg on the highway. The GS F’s 5.0-liter V-8 wants premium 91 octane fuel and your mileage may vary…widely. The EPA ratings are 16 mpg city, 24 highway, and 19 combined. Around town, and even in mixed driving, that 16 mpg rating is slightly optimistic. In heavy traffic, in our week with the GS F we managed 15 mpg in mixed city driving. Driving on the highway is a completely different story. With two adults and a trunk full of weekend luggage, we saw an average of 28.1 mpg, according to the trip computer, over the course of 225 miles. The way home was less efficient, likely due to wind in the gorge, and got 24.9 mpg. Average the two and that’s 26.5 mpg over the course of roughly 450 miles at speeds often over 70 mph. With 467 hp and eight forward gears, the GS F easily beat the EPA highway fuel economy rating. Granted, the second you put your foot into it starts to guzzle gas quickly. Those magical noises from the engine will cost you.
The well-equipped 2020 Lexus GS hasn’t been crash tested. We don’t have official crash-test data for the 2020 Lexus GS from the NHTSA but the IIHS gave it “Good” marks for side, rollover, and front overlap crash tests. The mid-size performance sedan starts off reasonably strong, however, with good collision-avoidance tech as standard. All versions come with a suite of gear that includes blind-spot monitors, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking that can detect pedestrians in the car’s path and apply the brakes. The GS is also relatively easy to see out of, and the standard rearview camera has a crisp, bright display.
The 2020 Lexus GS is luxurious inside, but not especially spacious. Inside, the GS trades the visual drama outside for a horizontal, low dash. A wide screen rests deep in the dash with climate vents and controls ordered neatly below with Carbon Fiber trim. All GS sedans have a luxurious interior dressed up with nice materials, soft leathers, and pretty wood trims. Sticking points are the software and mouse-like controller for the 12.3-inch infotainment screen, which can be frustrating and doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. Glance briefly at the center stack and you might think the hard buttons and knobs for the audio interface and climate controls are from a high-end home audio system. The silver volume and tuning knobs, the small square screens for the temperature readouts, and the buttons all feel and look high-end. They offer the added benefit of circumventing the infotainment system for basic functions like changing the temperature, airflow, and audio source.
I love the GS F’s gauge cluster. It has a very LFA supercar vibe with the large digital tachometer front and center, small analog speedometer to the lower right, and digital accessory gauges on the left. Front-seat occupants are treated to first-class appointments in the 2020 Lexus GS F. The standard 10-way power-adjustable thrones are wrapped in real leather hides with contrasting stitching, and they offer all-day comfort and great lateral support for spirited drives. Rear-seat riders don’t have as much space, though the bench itself is nicely padded. The trunk can hold up to 18 cubic feet of cargo, which is a lot for a mid-size luxury sedan, but the space is shallow.
The GS F commands about $86,000, though it is a rare item at most dealers. Just about everything is standard on the rare F including the power-adjustable front sport seats, heated front seats, a pair of USB ports, and a 12.3-inch widescreen. Options are fairly limited but consist of a premium Mark Levinson audio system, BBS wheels, and a HUD display. Regardless of options the 2020 GS F is a steal and will easily be a collector’s item considering this is the last year of production. So if you’re in the market for an amazing performance sedan or want a stand-out collector’s item for the future, look no further than the 2020 Lexus GS F.
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