The GS series is the midsize in the Lexus model lineup. It was given a complete overhaul in 2006 and a much smaller update occurred in 2010. This was mostly an Audio/Video affair, which featured more connectivity for the radio system and a voice command for the navigation system. The GS line will carry over into 2011 with no notable changes. The GS series competes head to head with the likes of the Acura RL and the mid level vehicles from all the major German marquees.

Lexus offers the GS in three flavors. The GS350, a 303 hp 3.5 liter v-6 driving either two or four wheels through a 6 speed transmission. The GS460, which loses the All Wheel Drive option, ups the ante with a 4.6 liter V-8 making 342 hp and routing that extra power through a slick 8 speed automatic transmission. The final option is the 450H, which is the hybrid option. It uses the v-6 from the GS350 mated to nearly 40 hp of electric power. The hybrid eschews standard transmission choices for a continuously variable model.

Body styles: Sedan
Engines: 3.5L V-6, 4.6L V-8
Transmissions: 8-speed automatic, 6-speed automatic, continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Models: GS 350, GS 460, GS 450h

There isn’t much that’s new for 2011 — on all three models, if the car isn’t equipped with optional navigation, the rearview mirror includes a compass (navigation system has its own compass). Otherwise, last year’s improvements carry over: there are new wheel options, an updated grille, a voice command feature for the nav system, Bluetooth connectivity, and options from the F-Sport line including wheels, brakes, intake, and suspension modifications.

Classy and conservative, the GS line looks attractive without making any waves. All models ride on a 112.2-inch wheelbase, and there are 17- and 18-inch wheels to choose from. Run-flat tires also are available.

Plenty of lux features abound on the GS: 10-way power adjustable heated front seats, four colors of leather trim, three different wood trims, 10-speaker audio, and cut pile carpeting are standard; navigation system and Mark Levinson audio are options.

The last time Motor Trend tested a GS, it was the 460, and its V-8 got the sedan to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14 seconds at 102.0 mph. The engine is smooth and the transmission works well overall, but when the GS is driven hard, the eight-speed hunts for gears and there are no paddle shifters here.

Dual front airbags, dual front knee airbags, front side airbags, and front and rear side-curtain airbags are standard. Four-wheel discs and ABS with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution and stability control are also standard.

GS 350: 18-19 mpg city/25-26 mpg highway
GS 450h: 22 mpg city/25 mpg highway
GS 460: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway

  • Smooth power
  • Excellent transmissions
  • Roomy, comfortable cabin

  • Lack of paddle shifters
  • Navigation is optional

Not a BMW-beater

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  • Audi A6
  • Acura RL
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan
  • BMW 5 Series

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