2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Review: Is It Time For Lexus To Move On?

An executive-class saloon

The 2019 Lexus GS 350 is on its fourth generation, and perhaps its last. Although, at this point, Lexus has not officially discontinued the model. When the Lexus GS debuted officially in 1993, it set out to take on its executive sedan competition from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW with its own take on luxury, looks, and power with its rear-drive-biased powertrain. That formula remains the same in regards to the 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport.

Since its inception, the Lexus GS has remained true to its roots while still displaying performance innovation. In the past, Lexus has played with everything from hybrid to smoking V8s in various GS sedans over the years. Currently, you can even get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and, like our test vehicle, all-wheel drive. Still, at just over $54,000 to start, is this 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport past its prime, or still able to take on its rivals?

[Photo: Lexus]

The powertrain

A 311 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 rests under the hood, also making 280 lb-ft of torque. While it’s no barn-burner, it can move the Lexus GS from 0 to 60 mph in around seven seconds, according to Lexus. An eight-speed transmission is available on rear-wheel drive GS models, but this all-wheel drive version comes with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The AWD system can shift up to 50-percent of the torque to the front wheels when needed via an electronically controlled center differential. Normally, it works a 30/70 torque split and it works both on dry pavement and in low traction situations. The system is seamless and very effective, but it does add a bit to the GS’s overall weight and drag.

The 3,891 lbs 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport AWD gets 21 mpg combined.

The Lexus sports a similar design to the company’s other sedans. Perhaps too similar?

What you get in the F Sport package:

When you opt for the F sport model, you get a wide range of extra equipment.

  • 16-way power adjustable driver’s seat (includes power side bolsters, thigh support, four-way lumbar)
  • 19-inch staggered width split five-spoke wheels with machined finish; summer tires for RWD, single width with all-season tires for AWD
  • F SPORT badging (side and rear)
  • F SPORT tuned Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with Sport S+ mode
  • Larger front brakes with hi-friction pads (RWD only)
  • Rear lip spoiler
  • F SPORT interior including: striated aluminum trim, F SPORT aluminum pedals and door scuff plates, unique perforated leather trim (Rioja Red, Flaxen or Black) and black headliner
  • F SPORT front bumper and rear lower valence; F SPORT mesh front grille inserts
  • Naguri aluminum trim
  • Variable Gear Ratio Steering (GS 350 RWD only)
  • LFA-inspired instrumentation

The Exterior

For a long time, the Lexus GS was one of the most distinctive sedans Lexus had in its fleet. Now, it’s overwrought spindle grill makes it look very similar to the Lexus ES, IS, LS…. you get the point. Fortunately, from the side, it still has that macho GS profile.

It also has elegant looking 19-in split-five-spoke alloy wheels with 235/40R19 all-season tires. It’s part of the F Sport package, as are the badges and unique trim bits. With the AWD system, the front end seems like it would look a bit better a half-inch lower.

(Photo: Lexus)

The Interior

This is where Lexus held back on updates. Sure, the Lexus GS has a luxurious, comfortable and sporty interior, but it’s terribly dated. From the lack of modern electronics (it doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), to its dated design. Hell, it still has a CD player. I know, Lexus is reluctant to remove old tech in deference to their elderly buyers. Still, even Roman Mica is finished with CDs.

It just seems that Lexus is passing on updating the GS’s interior for a specific reason.

(Photo: Lexus)

2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: Performance

Fortunately, the 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport AWD is a great driver’s car. It is resolute and solid in all but the most intense corners. Its F Sport-tuned suspension is BMW 5-Series-like firm, but never harsh. On daily drives, it is more than agreeable while not being as squishy as the Lexus ES.

Steering feel is not all there, but the steering weight and precision is top notch. You have a damn good idea what those front wheels are doing all the time. Especially when pushed, it’s easy to figure out what the front end is doing.

Power could be better, but the sound the V6 makes isn’t too shabby. Yo only hear it come to life on full boil, but it’s pleasant and muscular. Still, if power and sound is what you want – the GS-F is the only way to go.

Brakes and emergency maneuvers are handled as if the car weighs 500 lbs less. It dips a bit if you hit the limit, but the GS recovers quickly and responds to rapid inputs athletically. If it had an extra 100 horsepower, the 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport AWD would be damn-near perfect.

Man, I hope they don’t completely kill the GS.