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Monday, February 17, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Autos

2020 Lexus GS 350: Mid-luxury sedan balances comfort, performance and price

So you’re looking to upgrade your daily driver.

You’d like something a bit more compelling than your current ride. It should be quiet and comfortable. You’d like it to be well-equipped right out of the box, sans pricey extras. 

It should also excite your synapses when the mood strikes and the road gets interesting. 

And, since you plan to drive it year-round, all-wheel-drive would be just the ticket.

Well, lucky you. Lexus may have your car.

Smack dab in the middle of the Lexus pack, the 2020 Lexus GS 350 is a worthy, if oft-overlooked, entry in the mid-luxury performance-sedan segment.

The GS is easy to look at, satisfying to drive and treats its occupants well. When ordered with AWD, it provides sure-footed handling in the snow.

Proper sport-sedan dynamics

Planted on a rear-wheel-drive platform, the GS boasts proper sport-sedan dynamics, though they are offset somewhat by a suspension tuned more for comfort than for handling.

And even though its 311-horsepower V-6 powerplant trails the segment’s leaders, the GS 350 is plenty spunky, running the 0-60 sprint in a respectable 5.7 seconds.

Bottom line, the GS doesn’t excel in any single dimension but it does enough things well enough to earn your attention.

The GS family comprises two models, the GS 350 ($51,065) and the GS F Sport ($52,760). For 2020, Lexus drops last year’s four-cylinder GS 300.

The track-ready 467-hp GS F ($85,010) is marketed separately.

Today, we check in the GS 350, which is a value among its very good peers. 

Brimming with features

Its lengthy standard features list includes heated, ventilated and 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a navigation system with a 12.3-inch display and a 12-speaker 5.1 surround sound audio system.

A powerful, 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson 7.1 surround sound system is available.

The GS uses the hard-to-control joy-stick infotainment controller which in other models has been replaced by a somewhat less erratic touchpad solution.

There are LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof and dual-zone automatic climate control. 

An elegant dash-mounted analog clock is housed in a single ingot of aluminum. It features LED indicators and uses GPS for adjusting the time zone. 

Advanced driving aids include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and mitigation, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. 

Bright and airy 

Interior trim treatments include Open-Pore Brown Walnut, Gray Sapele Wood with Aluminum  and Striated Black and Naguri Aluminum.

Front seats are wide and supportive. Two adults can comfortably co-exist in the deeply sculpted rear seats. The space is a bit tight and there’s little toe room under the front seats.

The rear seatback does not fold.

A large expanse of windows produce a bright and airy ambiance. Thick rear pillars and a high rear deck impede rearward vision, a condition mitigated by large side mirrors and the blind-spot warning system. 

Casual cabin storage options are in short supply. The smallish door pockets and center-console bin offer little relief.

Quick and accurate steering

Our all-wheel-drive test vehicle was optioned with the F Sport package, which brought a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, variable gear-ratio steering, rain-sensing wipers and a 16-way adjustable driver’s seat, with adjustable hip support and back and shoulder bolstering.

Rear-wheel-drive versions of the F Sport can be ordered with rear-wheel steering or a limited slip differential.

A set of driver-selectable drive modes includes Sport and Sport + modes that tweak throttle response and shift points for more explosive acceleration.

An Eco mode slows throttle response and alters climate control settings. Snow mode improves traction at low speeds in snowy conditions.

The GS steering is quick, nicely weighted accurate. It communicates little from the road surface to the driver’s hands and is vague on center.

The GS received its last full make-over in 2011, with a mid-cycle refresh in 2015. It’s beginning to show its age in subtle ways, but you’ll look hard to find a better value in a segment packed with terrific cars.

Questions or comments? Contact Don at don@dadair.com.

2020 Lexus GS 350 F Sport AWD
Vehicle base price: $51,065
Trim level base price: $54,505
As tested: $60,905 (includes destination and handling)
Options: all-weather package; color head-up display; triple-beam LED headlights; Mark Levinson surround sound audio; one-touch power trunk; park assist; premium paint; heated leather-wrapped steering wheel.
EPA rating: 21 combined/19 city/26 highway
Premium gasoline required



Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.