If a car has sporting pretentions, it ought to have a good engine. Thankfully, the GS offers the choice of two. The engine in the new GS 200t is a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, with an estimated 33 mpg return on the highway. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The GS 350, meanwhile, carries a 3.5L V6 unit that produces a very healthy 311 horsepower and 280-pound feet of torque. The GS 350 manages to hit 60 miles per hour in under 5.7 seconds while still averaging 23 mpg in combined highway/city driving. It, too, is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, incorporating several nifty features taken from the IS-F high-performance sports sedan. Downshifts are automatically rev-matched and upshifts come with little hesitation. The transmission also features an "Eco" mode that revises the throttle mapping and climate control systems for a more fuel-efficient journey.
If power is one side of the sports sedan coin, handling is the other. Front upper and lower aluminum control arms reduce unsprung weight in the GS, improving agility, ride comfort and body control; while the rear subframe accommodates a multilink setup in the back. Combined with a stiff body shell, this allows the GS to handle corners with aplomb. However, should drivers want even better handling; the F Sport package is available with goodies such as Lexus' Dynamic Rear Steering system. This allows the rear wheels to automatically turn up to two degrees while cornering, aiding turn-in and stability.
Although the GS is sportier and more extroverted than ever, it hasn't lost any of its trademark luxury. Standard interior gadgets include Bluetooth compatibility, SMS text-to-speech, HD Radio, satellite radio and of course a high-resolution 8-inch screen. This is complemented by a 12-speaker surround sound stereo, though audiophiles can instead go for the optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson unit boasting 835 watts.
The Premium package includes rain-sensing wipers, a power rear sunshade and heated and ventilated front seats. The Luxury Package builds on this, with nicer seats in the front, rear HVAC and audio controls, rear manual side sunshades, an Adaptive Front Lighting System, Adaptive Variable Suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. Opt for the navigation system and Lexus will upgrade the center screen to a 12.3-inch high-resolution version. This screen is big enough to accommodate split screen or full screen viewing of things like maps, audio, climate and vehicle information.
The GS F is a different beast entirely, with a 5.0L V8 producing 467 horsepower, enough to make it a serious contender in the ultra-high performance sedan class. The GS F mates this engine with a standard eight-speed automatic, ensuring not just rapid acceleration, but a degree of refinement that is unmatched by its competitors. The suspension of the GS F has also been worked over ensuring that the car is able to corner as well as it accelerates and brakes.
Finally, the GS is also available as a hybrid in the GS 450h. It adds an electric motor to the standard 3.5l V6. The addition of this motor boosts total horsepower to 338, while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption by about 30 percent, making the GS 450h the fastest and most fuel efficient GS available, with a combined EPA rating of 31 mpg.
I had just gotten off of a trans-Pacific flight from Cambodia, squeezed into economy for 17 hours, when I picked up the 2017 Lexus GS 200t from Roadshow HQ. My lower back was stiff and sore from being crammed into steerage, so I was looking forward to a cushy ride home in a luxury sport sedan.
I adjusted the lumbar support to full-on pressure and searched the center console for the heated seat switch. Not seeing it there, I looked at the climate controls. Nope. Not there either.
Then I remembered that the GS 200t was introduced in 2016 as an entry-level model for those who found the GS 350 out of their price range. Apparently, heated seats are not for the hoi polloi. Still, the GS 200t starts at $46,310, a price where heated seats should be standard. Instead they're part of a $1,400 premium package, which includes automatic wipers and a rear sunshade.
The Good The ride is silky smooth and Lexus Safety System Plus comes standard. Lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control for everybody!
The Bad The Enform infotainment system is a hot mess and there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Heated seats are part of a $1,400 package.
The Bottom Line The Lexus GS 200t offers a comfortable ride that's engaging enough for most buyers, but the Enform system needs a redesign, ASAP.
Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa are nice improvements to a still distracting Lexus infotainment interface.
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