Old-timer with a little bite left. The 2020 Lexus GS is an elder statesman at this point, as it rolls into its eighth model year without a redesign. Luckily for Lexus, its looks were well ahead of the curve back in 2013, but it’s fallen behind in many other areas.
The powertrain is one area where the GS owes buyers an upgrade, but its old-school roots make it a great option for those seeking that classic V8 feel in a luxury midsize sedan.
Great looks at a tremendous value. There's no doubting the Lexus GS is still quite the looker. Its design may be a bit old-school compared to German metal, but there's just something attractive about its smooth body, bold spindle grille, checkmark LED signature lighting, and large bumper-integrated exhaust tips.
Inside, while a bit more dated than the body, the setup remains clean and luxurious with a big focus on horizontal lines to make the cabin feel airy. Plus, the large, crisp infotainment screen makes it feel a bit more modern.
Unfortunately, this sedan doesn’t just look dated – it is dated. It went through its last redesign way back in 2013. In a fast-moving segment, this is a relative fossil, and anyone who cross-shops a BMW, Mercedes, or Audi may find it difficult to go back to the GS.
The V6 leaves us yearning for more, and the GS F satisfies it. The base GS 350 shares its 3.5-liter V6 with several Toyota models, and its 311 horsepower, while not terrible, leaves us craving more. Yes, this trumps the turbocharged four-cylinder engines in the 5-Series and E-Class, but it cannot touch the torquey turbo V6 engines in the A6, 540i, and E 450.
That lack of power is quickly negated with a quick bump into the GS F. Its beastly 467-hp V8 offers five liters of naturally-aspirated heaven.
Despite its extra power, don’t twist the GS F up into being a competitor to the 600-hp M5 or the 603-hp AMG E 63 S. It cannot hang with these German monsters, but it’s also not priced to compete at $86,035. For reference, the M5 starts at $104,695 and the AMG E 63 S bases from $108,345.
That beautiful-looking infotainment system is a tease. The GS boasts a gorgeous 12.3-inch standard infotainment screen and a pair of USB ports. This is a great start, but it falls apart quickly.
That fancy 12.3-inch screen is no touchscreen. Instead, Lexus forces you to hunt and peck using a touchpad-controlled cursor that enjoys the occasional spaz-out session. As if that’s not bad enough, those USB ports are for charging and playing songs from your phone or MP3 player only – there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
While some luxury brands resisted the smartphone movement for a while, most have succumbed to buyer demand. Today, the E-Class offers standard Apple CarPlay and the Audi A6 and Jaguar XF offer standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Even BMW offers one free year of Apple CarPlay, though you do have to pay an annual fee after that.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Lexus GS is still a looker, despite its aging design, and it offers an incredible value against its European rivals. While its dated looks may be OK in many buyers’ eyes, its crummy infotainment system may be a big concern for younger shoppers.
If you’re looking for top-notch connectivity, you’re better off with the A6. The XF also offers Android and Apple connectivity, plus its base price is in line with the GS’.
Buyers who want a performance rig can get this in the GS F, but if you have an extra $20,000 in your budget and want serious power, the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E 63 S are worth a look-see.