Emma Jayne Williams

Stylish Lexus GS 300 sedan for 2018 gets turbo four-cylinder, 8-speed transmission

Lexus GS is a luxury performance sedan, combining the best of both worlds. For 2018, the GS 200t trim level becomes the GS 300.

Three distinct interpretations of the GS are available: GS 300, offered as RWD and F Sport ($46,510 starting price); GS 350, available as AWD, RWD, F Sport AWD and F Sport RWD, ($50,565), and GS 450h, available as RWD and F Sport RWD ($63,635).

For this review, I drove a striking GS 300 in Eminent White Pearl, powered by a smooth-running 241-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), paired with an eight-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters and drive mode selection – Eco, Normal, and Sport.

The combination means the GS 300 is responsive in everyday driving, and the highly efficient powertrain delivers EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/32 highway/26 combined. Driving mostly on the highway, I averaged 27.5 mpg.

My tester’s bold exterior featured a variation of the signature spindle grille with wide convex horizontal bars in charcoal, outlined in satin chrome, flanked by distinctive LED headlights featuring L-shaped LED daytime running lights and Intelligent High Beam. The nighttime look is unmistakable.

A deep air vent was set into the lower front fascia, accented by a prominent cut from the grille down to the vent. Side windows were outlined in the same satin chrome.

In the rear, taillights with L-shaped details were surrounded by black plastic lenses, and connected by a satin chrome strip across the trunk lid. Flattened rectangular satin chrome exhaust tips were integrated into the outer bumper.

The One-Touch Power Trunk (open/close, $400) made loading and unloading a breeze. The trunk had 18.4 cubic feet of space, with two hidden storage areas behind the wheel wells – one held tools, one could hold small valuables. A small net on one wall held a first aid kit.

In addition to Eminent White, the GS 300 is available in seven other colors: Liquid Platinum, Atomic Silver (pewter), Caviar (off black), Obsidian (deep black), Matador Red Mica (medium), Smoky Gray Mica (charcoal), and Nightfall Mica (royal). The mica colors use a complex multi-layered, twice-baked process routinely used for concept vehicles or custom cars, which results in a glass-like finish.

My GS 300 had Lexus Paint Protection Film by 3M ($429) on the hood, front fenders, and front bumper. The film, with multiple layers of UV protection to prevent yellowing, protects the paint from debris at the most common impact points.

Standard 17-inch, nine-spoke alloy wheels were replaced by 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels with summer tires ($905). The wheels were painted gray with a diamond cut face on one side of the wide, sculpted spoke and along the lip, echoing the Lexus logo.

Inside, the cabin was luxurious, with lots of standard amenities and a mix of classic and modern design elements. For example, the analog clock in the center of the dash sits in a single ingot of aluminum, features LED indicators, and uses GPS to adjust for time zones. An “old school” type of gal, I prefer an analog clock – it stands out from all the digital clutter of the center stack.

Classic ambience was also evident in the Striated Black interior trim (on the doors, dash and center console) and Flaxen/Charcoal interior colors. Gloss black accented the door armrests, center stack, and center console, a modern touch.

Pewter metallic accents on door panels and handles, steering wheel spokes, shifter knob, the Remote Touch controller, center stack, and dash added a touch of class. Pewter isn’t reflective, a big plus in my book.

Standard interiors color choices for the GS 300 include Chateau NuLuxe, Flaxen NuLuxe and Black NuLuxe, with the Striated Black trim. NuLuxe man-made “leather” is soft and smooth, weighs half as much as leather, is very eco-friendly, and holds up as well as or better than leather.

Ten-way power front seats are standard, along with a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column with automatic tilt-away, Siri Eyes Free, power tilt/slide moon roof, Homelink universal transceiver for garage doors or gates, and auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Eyes Free uses an iPhone equipped with Siri to make calls using phone book contacts, dictate/listen to messages, check calendar/make appointments, access a music library get turn-by-turn directions, and much more.

Door pockets were large enough to hold a laptop; the large cubby under the center armrest had a removable tray, a USB port and a 12-volt outlet; two covered cupholders were at the front of the console; a small bin pulled out of the lower left dash;

A Premium Package ($1,400) added heated and ventilated front seats (welcome during this heat), a power rear sunshade, and rain-sensing wipers.

Climate Concierge, with the heated/cooled seats, monitors three separate climate zones and adjusts fans and seat temperatures individually. The standard climate control system had automatic recirculation with smog sensor and air filter.

Standard is the Lexus Premium audio system with advanced voice recognition, HD radio with iTunes tagging, DVD/CD player, Bluetooth technology, USB audio plug, SiriusXM radio (three-month All Access trial), and Remote Touch. On my tester, it was upgraded with a 17-speaker, 835-watt Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio system ($1,380) with patented, proprietary Clari-Fi technology that restores audio quality from compressed music (CD, iPod, etc). Clari-Fi gives a crisp, clear, dynamic sound, enveloping every passenger in 3-D sound.

Enform Safety and Service Connect are now both complimentary for the first 10 years of ownership. Safety Connect offers access to Lexus Enform response centers around the clock, while Service Connect sends alerts to the driver for specific factory recommended maintenance.

In addition, Enform Remote (complimentary for one year) allows the customer to view and control functions such as door lock/unlock, engine and climate start/stop, vehicle finder, guest driver monitor, and more using apps for iOS and Android devices.

My Lexus GS 300 received a complimentary navigation system, a $1,735 value, with a 12-inch screen (recessed into the middle of the upper dash) and navigation with Lexus Enform Destinations (one-year trial), and Lexus Enform App Suite (listen to Internet radio including Pandora, iHeartRadio and Slacker, search business reviews on Yelp) with color multimedia display. The system shared the Remote Touch interface controller with other screen-based controls (climate, audio, phone, and more) using a cursor/mouse-style button on the center console, side “enter” buttons and a shortcut menu on the side of the screen.

Lexus’ pursuit of cutting-edge safety technology includes 10 standard air bags and a wide array of driver-assist technologies. Lexus Safety System includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam, and Full Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. PCS can use Brake Assist to initiate automatic braking if a possible collision is detected.

Lane Departure Alert gives audio and visual alerts and vibrates the steering wheel if the vehicle deviates from the lane, and Steering Assist, when activated, helps keep the vehicle centered in the lane.

The Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert is also standard. Standard Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats reduce the space between passengers’ heads and headrests to limit excessive head movement in the event of certain types of rear-end collisions.

Stylish synthetic leather Key Gloves ($10) with the Lexus logo embossed on the side fit the key fob securely to protect from inevitable, if unintentional, abuse.

My GS was a very smooth ride, with quick, easy acceleration from a standstill. Seats were comfortably bolstered, including the two outboard rear seats.

The middle seat was adequate for a child seat, but even a small adult would not have been comfortable, with the tunnel taking up most of the legroom. Outboard passengers had 36.8 inches of legroom, while front passengers had 42.3 inches.

The navigation system was relatively easy to program, although I am not a fan of the Remote Touch – I find it jumpy and time-consuming to bump from letter to letter. I couldn’t find the volume button for navigation – a pet peeve.

With $4,524 in options and $995 destination charges, my GS 300 delivered for $51,892.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.