The GS 350 steps away from traditional Lexus serenity and instead competes with mainstream midsized luxury sports sedans – mostly from Germany – on their own, more athletic terms. It mostly lives up to the challenge. The GS 350 combines fine road manners with standard Lexus traits like thoughtful design and excellent fit and finish.

Pricing and Equipment

The Lexus GS 350 is a formal, slightly bulky-looking four-door sedan. Power comes from a 3.5-liter 311-horsepower V6 (the other members of the GS family – the turbocharged GS 200t, hybrid GS 400h, and V8-powered GS F – are covered in separate articles). Rear-wheel-drive GS 350s feature a new-for-2017 eight-speed automatic transmission, while the all-wheel-drive version continues to use Lexus's six-speed automatic.

That driveline choice is one of two major decisions to be made when considering a GS 350, the other being preference for the F Sport package with its retuned suspension and revised trim. The pricing structure regarding those options is unusual – MSRP for the rear-drive GS 350 is $51,690 (all listed prices include delivery), while the ask for the AWD version and its older six-speed transmission is slightly lower at $51,360, probably because this model forgoes leather.

Standard equipment on either variant includes navigation, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure and pedestrian collision sensors, Siri Eyes Free voice control, and a 12.3-inch infotainment system. A Luxury Package with an adaptive suspension, upgraded interior trim including semi-aniline leather, rear-seat climate controls, and other details is available (and identical) on both rear- and all-wheel-drive models, but lists for $4,435 on the rear-driver and $6,845 on the AWD car.

The pricing disparity is even more pronounced with the F Sport – the rear-drive F Sport stickers at $59,920, and the all-wheel-drive variant posts an MSRP of $57,550. The F Sport has the same powerplant and driveline choices as the standard GS 350, although there are notable changes mostly to the chassis and interior, including:

  • Revised suspension and drive-mode settings
  • A variable-ratio steering rack and computer-modulated rear-wheel steering
  • 19-inch wheels with upgraded brakes
  • A different instrument cluster and distinct interior trim
  • 16-way heated and cooled seats with adjustable side bolsters
  • A restyle of the ever-controversial Lexus spindle grille

Standalone options on any GS 350 include a $900 head-up display, parking assist for $500, and a $1,380 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.

Performance Pros

Lexus GS 350
  • The standard suspension is dialed in for a pleasant blend of responsive handling and an excellent ride, minimizing excess body motion while absorbing heaves and bumps.
  • The F Sport's stiffer adaptive setup and four-wheel steering give it a sense of agility and directness unusual in a sedan this size.
  • The six-speed automatic on the AWD GS 350 may seem dated, but it is very smooth and avoids the indecisive shiftiness common to many newer automatics with higher ratio counts.

Performance Cons

  • The GS 350's V6 makes competitive numbers on paper but lacks the midrange thrust of its turbocharged German rivals.
  • The flip side of the F Sport's excellent handling is its jarring reactions to potholes and expansion joints.

Interior Pros

  • The GS 350's interior is typical Lexus: elegant styling, high-quality materials, fit and finish that remain industry standards.
  • The screen for the infotainment system is large enough to clearly display multiple functions simultaneously.
  • The standard front seats are very comfortable; the optional Luxury and F Sport seats are exceptional.

Interior Cons

Lexus GS 350
  • The rear seats are pleasant and accommodating - for two. Room for a fifth passenger is simply inadequate.
  • The controller for the infotainment system is reasonably effective once learned, but it's not as intuitive or as direct as some comparable systems. Even the terminally self-conscious will come to appreciate the voice controls.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The chassis team that set up the GS 350 deserves plenty of accolades. The standard suspension scores very well on both ride and handling, while the F Sport moves better than its sometimes ponderous rivals. Going for the sporty model also blesses a pleasantly natural and direct steering feel, almost in spite of its complexity and computer management.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The 350 in GS 350 may need to be adjusted upward to keep pace with the competition. The naturally-aspirated V6 is smooth and responsive but its low- and midrange output lacks the muscularity of its supercharged or turbocharged German rivals.

The Bottom Line

The Lexus GS 350 is more of an interesting alternative to the midsize-luxury class than a dominant contender, especially with today's Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, and Volvo S90. If your daily commute involves drag races against coworkers with more muscular sedans, look elsewhere. Otherwise, the GS 350's superlative suspension tuning and gratifying interior design make for a dignified and confident driving experience – which is, after all, the very point of owning a sports sedan.