Lexus GS (2012-2018) Review

The Lexus GS is comfortable and luxurious, but the hybrid saloon is less efficient than rivals

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Smooth hybrid system
  • High quality interior
  • Comfortable ride
  • Gearbox emits a droning sound
  • Small boot
  • Heavy and ponderous in corners
Limited Lexus GS stock available.

Since 1993, the luxury subsidiary of Toyota has been trying to persuade drivers to consider buying a Lexus as opposed to the established German powerhouses of Mercedes, Audi and BMW, by whom the executive saloon market is dominated. 

It's a tough task, and every now and again Lexus come up with something that can stand up against the likes of a Mercedes E-Class, and the GS comes close, but perhaps not quite close enough. Designed to compete with the E-Class, Audi A5, BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF, the GS comes with the promise of better fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions than most of its rivals, which makes it a cheaper alternative for business users thanks to lower company car tax rates.

This improved efficiency is achieved thanks to Lexus' hybrid petrol engine, which incorporates an electric motor and battery alongside the conventional combustion engine. The battery recovers energy when you slow down or brake, meaning the recovered energy can be recycled to help drive the wheels and reduce the stress on the engine, therefore improving fuel economy. Using this technology, the GS is also able to run exclusively on electric power for short distances, although this is a primitive implementation, so not overly useful in standard driving situations.

As a result, the GS has carbon emissions of just 104g/km, placing it into a low company car tax category and reducing road tax to £20 a year. This was a huge saving when the GS was first released, but the competition has moved on, and even standard diesel versions of the Mercedes E-Class, Audi A5 and BMW 5 Series offer better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions in 2019. There are also now hybrid versions of the E-Class with half the CO2 emissions of the most efficient Lexus, while BMW's 530e plug-in hybrid blows the GS out of the water. In short, if you're looking for a saloon with the best green credentials, you're going to want something newer. 

The GS does come with a decent standard spec. There is leather upholstery throughout and a big 12.3-inch media display, which has a joystick control for music and sat-nav. This is once again showing it's age, as the system isn’t as simple as those in German rivals, which have a more user-friendly dial and smoother overall functionality.

Actually sitting in the Lexus however is a more comfortable experience than you'd find in rivals, as a uge amount of effort was put into making the GS as quiet and relaxing onthe road as possible. This characteristic does take away from the driving expereince though, the car feel less agile and generally less responsive.

That’s partly due to the added weight of the hybrid system, which also reduces the boot capacity to 450 litres, compared with the 540 litres of the E-Class or Jaguar XF.

It all makes for a car that struggles to stand out amongst much more cutting-edge competitors. Time has not been kind to the GS, but if you’re looking for a comfortable car that's well suited to driving in town, then this could prove a good choice, particularly if you can secure a large discount with current Lexus GS deals.

Key facts

Warranty 3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size 450 litres
Width 1840mm
Length 4880mm
Height 1455mm
Tax From B (£20 per year) to F (£145 per year)

Best Lexus GS for...

Best for Economy – Lexus GS 300h

The lower-powered of the two GS variants has an official fuel consumption figure of 64.2mpg on the combined cycle. Carbon dioxide emissions are 104g/km.

Best for Performance – Lexus GS 450h F Sport

It might be a hybrid, but the inclusion of a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine as part of the set-up does give the performance numbers a considerable boost, with a 5.9-second 0-62mph acceleration time.


February 2012 The GS 250 and 450h go on sale in the UK in February 2012.
January 2014 A smaller hybrid version, the 300h, replaced the non-hybrid 250.
January 2016 An updated version of the GS with revised styling goes on sale.

Understanding Lexus GS names

Engine 300h

There are two hybrid engines available, – either a 2.5-litre or 3.5-litre petrol combined with an electric motor. Both engine badges are suffixed with the 'h' to denote their hybrid nature.

Trim Executive edition

There are four trim levels – Executive Edition, Luxury, F Sport and Premier. The different trim levels rise in price, with additional equipment being incorporated the higher the trim level.

Lexus GS Engines

300h, 450h

There are just two engine variants available in the GS, both of which are hybrid units.

The 300h combines a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, which together produce 223Hp. Power drives the rear wheels, either from the hybrid engine or from the motor alone. Power is delivered according to the driving conditions, the driving style and the drive mode selected. It’s quiet and refined when cruising and under gentle acceleration and virtually silent in electric-only mode.

But in common with Lexus and Toyota’s hybrid systems, the GS utilises a continuously variable transmission (CVT) gearbox, which can be noisy when attempting hard acceleration. It also lacks a real responsiveness, taking too long to increase the revs when you want to up the pace. A combination of the petrol and electric motor also adds weight, so the 0-62mph time isn’t that swift, at 9.2 seconds. However, the GS does deliver in terms of fuel economy and emissions, with an official economy figure of 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km. Is it possible to achieve these figures in the real world? Yes, but you have to drive very, very carefully, in a way that is difficult to maintain in actuality.

The 450h has a similar hybrid set-up, but it's a more performance-oriented engine, thanks to 3.5-litre V6 petrol and more powerful electric motor, together producing 345hp. On the road, it feels significantly more spritely than the 2.5-litre variant, with a 5.9-second 0-62mph – but it's also mated to a CVT gearbox, so the same caveats apply as with the 300h. Economy also suffers, with 46.3pg and emissions of 141g/km. 



Fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed


Petrol/electric hybrid






Petrol/electric hybrid





Lexus GS Trims

Executive Edition, Luxury, F Sport, Premier

The Lexus GS comes with a lot of equipment fitted as standard – more than most of its German rivals, which often consign features to long lists of optional extras.

The ‘base’ 300h Executive Edition comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, daytime running lights, keyless entry and start, leather upholstery, dual-zone air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, 10 airbags, a built in media system that includes navigation controlled by a mouse-like Remote Touch Interface control and 12.3-inch display, a 12-speaker audio system with DVD player, DAB radio and two USB ports, electrically adjustable heated front seats and Drive Mode Select which enables the driver to choose switch between three settings – Eco, Normal, Sport – to change power output, steering and throttle settings, depending on how the driver’s preference. Traction and stability control are also included.

The 300h Luxury edition adds 18-inch alloys wheels and ventilated front seats. A sunroof, and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system are optional extras for an additional cost.

The F Sport trim, available for 300h and 450h models, adds features that place an emphasis on sporty styling and performance. So there are 19-inch alloys, LED headlights with adaptive high beam, a different bumper and grille design, a rear spoiler, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, sports seats, aluminium pedals, scuff plates and interior trim inlays, perforated leather on the steering wheel and gear shift, adaptive suspension and a Sport+ drive mode and four-wheel steering.

Range-topping Premier trim adds exclusive 18-inch alloys (with 19-inch versions also available), upgraded semi-aniline leather upholstery, an upgraded air conditioning system with rear seat controls, a heated leather and wood steering wheel, head-up display, 17-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system, electrically adjustable front seats with variable cushion length and calf support for the front passenger, wood trim interior inlays, electric rear window sunshade, manual rear side window shades and an electric bootlid.

Lexus GS Reliability and warranty

The current generation of the Lexus GS is highly regarded by owners, appearing in fifth place overall in the 2016 Driver Power survey and five category scores inside the top 10. Buyers praise its build quality and reliability, the high-spec cabin and extensive range of equipment. Lexus is also placed second in the list of manufacturers, incidentally.

All Lexus models are covered by a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, while hybrids (which includes all GS variants) are also eligible for five-year or 60,000-mile cover for the hybrid components including the hybrid battery. The overall warranty is the same as that offered by Audi, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz cover unlimited mileage.

Used Lexus GS

The GS doesn’t sell in huge numbers, so there aren’t vast amounts of them on the used market. A 2017 300h Executive Edition with nearly 27 miles on the clock will go for £22,685 or £309 per month on BuyaCar.