The 2018 Lexus GS 300 is among a half-dozen luxury sedans all vying for a market share in a segment packed with superior choices. Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz join Lexus in the mix of buyers whose decisions are often based on status, brand loyalty and overall quality.
Which designation is the most important doesn’t matter. But choose the Lexus GS 300, and the top-three buying reasons all resonate. Reliable performance and a sporty design give the upscale Toyota marque more clout.
The midsize sedan was renamed from its previous 200t designation for 2018, but it’s much the same car as last year’s model. The only changes: Lexus Enform subscription services are now complimentary for the first 10 years of ownership. Standard equipment now includes blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Aluminum 19-inch wheels are an option.
The sedan operates on a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 241 horsepower and rear-wheel drive. It advances with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is 21 miles per gallon in city driving, 30 miles per gallon on the freeway.
The standard features list is lengthy. Highlights include 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, keyless ignition and entry, simulated leather upholstery, a sunroof, power-adjustable and heated front seats, driver-seat memory settings and an automatic climate control system.
Three engine options are available, including the F Sport trim on my test vehicle. The F Sport package includes a sport-tuned suspension system, the Sport+ drive mode, a 16-way power-adjustable driver’s sport seat, aluminum pedals unique badging and the 19-inch wheel option.
Lexus has long been at the forefront of the technology. With so many safety and convenience gadgets, the GS 300 is teetering on the scale of innovation overload.
Standard technology includes an 8-inch display screen, a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, a DVD player, HD Radio, satellite radio, Siri Eyes Free, a rearview camera and automatic high beams. Lane departure warning with steering assist, lane keep assist, a pre-collision system that features pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control are all in the mix.
The interior is stylishly upscale, with handsome and quality materials arranged with a designer’s savvy. Lexus includes its signature analog clock, a tiered dashboard and wide, low-centered console. Seats are high-back styles and comfortable. There are LED ambient lighting, aluminum pedals, Alcantara (microfiber) on various surfaces, perforated leather on the seat and steering and carbon fiber trim. It’s all hip and useful.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is $50,900. But several expensive optional equipment items, the navigation system, a Mark Levinson sound system and head-up display as well a several less costly options plus delivery fees push the price to $56,385.
Not too many years ago, top-line luxury vehicles price tags in mid-$50,000 range. The Lexus GS 300 isn’t a top-level luxury car and nor are any of its top competitors, some priced higher, some lower.
But matched against its rivals, the newly named sedan holds its own. It’s smooth-driving, handsome and well-appointed. It’s a sedan with sports car-tendencies. It accelerates with authority and maneuvers through traffic without worry or hesitation.
The new Lexus provides a smooth ride at all speeds and its handling allows the driver to feel like their making a difference. The car grips the road and its brakes are perfectly controlled.
There are two downfalls. Rear seating is tight for larger adults. And despite its overall sharp exterior styling, Lexus continues to use its unique front grille. It looks like a pouting fish, a design not worthy of a vehicle with few reasons to pout.
Article Last Updated: June 29, 2018.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.