Last year, Lexus introduced the all-new turbocharged GS 200t to go up against four-cylinder turbocharged sedans like the BMW 530i, Mercedes-Benz E300 and Cadillac CTS. This year brings a new name for the entry-level GS — meet the 2018 Lexus GS 300.
Not only does this model improve the overall value and efficiency of the GS, it also gives this mid-size luxury sedan a broader lineup that also includes the V6-powered GS 350, the hybrid GS 450h and, of course, the performance-tuned GS F. With the exception of its new name, the GS 300 carries over unchanged from last year.
2018 Lexus GS 300 Exterior
The current-generation Lexus GS was introduced for the 2012 model year, and a substantial update for the 2015 model year helped ensure that this car looks just as good – if not better – than its competition. Although the GS 300 represents the entry-level model for the GS lineup, you wouldn’t be able to tell so by its styling. Only the decklid badges and standard 17-inch wheels distinguish the GS 300 from the GS 350, and this tester wore optional ($905) 18-inch, five-spoke for a sportier look.
Lexus’ signature spindle grille continues to be a polarizing cue on its cars, but love it or hate it, this grille helps give the GS its in-your-face styling. The lighting elements also add to the GS’ style with bold two-piece front lights with small LED headlights with a Nike-swoosh LED daytime running lights up front and clear-lensed taillights with three L-shaped elements.
2018 Lexus GS 300 Interior
Lexus has always crafted its interiors exceptionally well, and the 2018 Lexus GS 300 is a perfect of example of this. As a perfect contrast to the Eminent White Pearl exterior paint job, the cabin was finished in a tan hue of Lexus’ NuLuxe synthetic leather with a mix of metallic and striated black trim.
The interior of this tester was equipped thanks to features like the no-charge navigation package with a massive 12.3-inch infotainment screen operated by the Remote Touch Interface controller, the $1,380 Mark Levinson surround sound audio system with 17 speakers and 835 watts and the Premium Package ($1,400) adding heated and ventilated front seats, power rear sunshade and rain-sensing wipers. The only real disappointment about the technology here is the lack of Apple Car Play and Android Auto smartphone integration.
When it comes to comfort, the 2018 Lexus GS 300 is exactly what is to be expected from a midsize luxury sedan. There’s plenty of room for five passengers, thick, plush carpet, and a huge trunk offering 18.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which is easily accessible thanks to the optional ($400) one-touch power trunk.
2018 Lexus GS 300 Powertrain
Although it wears a new name, the 2018 Lexus GS 300 still uses the same engine as the former GS 200t, so there’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood. This engine utilizes Toyota’s unique D-4S injection (a combination of port and direct fuel injection) to produce 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Unlike some of its AWD rivals, the turbocharged GS 300 is only available in rear-wheel drive, but it does step up to Lexus’ more advanced eight-speed automatic transmission. With this powertrain, the GS 300 has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway**.
On the road, the GS 300 is geared more toward a smooth and quiet luxury sedan, but switch the drive mode in Sport mode and the 3,805-pound GS gets a little more entertaining. Lexus says the GS 300 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds and hit a top speed of 143 mph, and while these aren’t segment-leading numbers, Lexus offers more powerful options like the GS 350 and GS F for buyers looking for more performance.
2018 Lexus GS 300 Safety
The 2018 Lexus GS has yet to be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but this big luxury sedan packs in plenty of safety features. In addition to ten standard airbags, all GS models also come with the Lexus Safety System+ suite of safety features that includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
2018 Lexus GS 300 Overall
As powertrain technology continues to advance, we can expect to see more luxury sedans start to use turbocharged engines instead of bigger – and thirstier – V6 and V-8 units. The 2018 Lexus GS 300 retains the plush driving dynamic of a mid-size sedan, while getting improved fuel economy and a lower starting price. The value proposition here is that with a starting price of $46,410*, the GS 300 truly gives its German rivals a run for the money. Not only is that about $7,000 less than a base BMW 530i, but the as-tested price of $51,820 is almost $20,000 less than the BMW 530i we tested last year!
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Lexus dealership and test drive the 2018 Lexus GS 300 today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.