2020 Lexus GS F Review & Video | Looking past the numbers
It's characterful, communicative and lustfully loud (in noise and color)
467 HP / 389 LB-FT
19 mpg combined
As Tested Price
View All Specs
You don't hear much about the 2020 Lexus GS F. It's been out for a while now, the model having debuted for 2016 and the base GS sedan stretching all the way back to 2012. That's an awful lot of time for the automotive world to whiz by, especially in the upper echelon of performance sedans. Packing 467 horsepower is suddenly weak sauce when rivals have crested the 600-hp plateau. The fact that Lexus still hasn't convinced the automotive enthusiast community at large that it actually makes compelling performance machines certainly doesn't help.
To be perfectly honest, I have avoided testing the GS F for several years now. "Who's going to buy that?" I've pondered, considering all of the above plus its $85,000 price tag. Nevertheless, I've got more time on my hands these days to test more cars and a Lexus Flare Yellow paint job is impossible to ignore, so hey, why not?
Well, after a week, I didn't want to turn over the keys. When faced with first-world automotive journalist problem of picking between the the Flare Yellow GS F and the BMW M340i also parked out front, I quickly chose the Lexus. And if I had $85,000 to spend on a high-powered luxury sedan, I honestly think I'd happily choose it over the Germans that outdo it on paper.
Many of you will think that stupid and will point to the numbers at hand. The GS F's 5.0-liter V8 sends 467 hp and 389 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels only, and is capable of a 0-60 run of 4.5 seconds. A BMW M5 has 600 hp and hits 60 in 3.2 seconds; the lesser M550i has 523 hp and a 3.6-second time. That M340i xDrive also in my driveway? It hits 60 in 4.1. Over at Mercedes-AMG, the E 63 has 603 hp and a 3.3-second time. Only the lesser E 53 is comparable to the Lexus with 429 hp and a 4.4-second 0-60 time. Its torque is also comparable, unlike the rest of those Germanic monsters that utterly roast the Lexus.
However, all of that extra output and all of those quicker times are also indicative of the very reason the GS F remains so desirable. It doesn't have a turbocharger, ensuring unencumbered response, a zesty 7,800-rpm redline and marvelous noises that don't require the sound enhancement feature Lexus throws in anyway (and that I turned off). It also doesn't require all-wheel drive to quell elephantine gobs of tire-shredding turbocharged torque, thereby letting the front wheels simply handle the steering. The rears, meanwhile, can smoke away and swing loose should you disable the appropriate settings to do so.
The allure of the GS F isn’t just about this characterful and increasingly old-school engine. This will still seem like an unbelievable statement to many in the automotive enthusiast community at large, but Lexus steering is excellent, especially in the GS F. It's fluid and friction-free at speed, granting a degree of rewarding precision that lets you grip the wheel with your fingers as you dance among corners. There is actual feel. It's also weighty yet naturally so at around-town speeds, meaning that regardless of the driving scenario, the GS F grants you the feeling of being in control of a machine. It's pleasantly old school in that way.
The adaptive suspension is impeccably tuned for a back-road assault, while not also waging war on your spine around town. Standard is a multi-setting Torque Vectoring Differential that constantly controls the amount of power sent to each rear wheel via a multi-plate clutch, while the stability control has Sport and Expert settings that allow for a bit more fun. Lightweight Brembo brakes (six-piston front, four-piston rear) are fit snug inside 19-inch matte black wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
Admittedly, the interior shows its age. You can see a glimmer of the eye-catching design that would go on to be found in today's LC or LS, but it doesn't quite work and is a bit dull. It also has an older version of Lexus Remote Touch that works with a little joystick instead of a touch-sensitive control pad. This input device is actually better in some respects, but is nevertheless so baffling and irritating to use that it can make you feel like you're driving an old car (which, in a way, you are). As for the exterior styling, well, I'll just say Flare Yellow pulls an awful lot of weight.
But then I would lay into that glorious V8. It didn't matter if I was blitzing a mountain road as in the video above or just going for a casual evening drive loop with my wife. There's just something about a naturally aspirated V8 that's special and that transcends numbers on a spreadsheet. I never did a 0-60 run, so I didn't particularly care that the rather sterile BMW M550i would smoke it or that the Mercedes E 53 would turn in the same time with two fewer cylinders. Both also cost a few grand less.
Yet, there's more to cars than numbers, and in that realm, the GS F revels. There are the noises that fill the cabin, the sensations filtered through the steering and the response felt through your right foot. It's about the entire experience, not just some facts and figures to regurgitate to friends at a barbecue. The Lexus GS F may never win a comparison test, but it's nevertheless a special car and it deserves more attention than it gets. Sorry for doubting you, bud.
Lexus GS F Information
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2019 LexusGS F Pricing and Specs
Compare 1 GS F trims and trim families below to see the differences in prices and features.
Trim Family Comparison
BaseView 1 Trims
- 5.0L V-8 Engine
- 8-spd auto w/OD Transmission
- 467 @ 7,100 rpm Horsepower
- 389 @ 4,800 rpm Torque
- rear-wheel Drive type
- ABS and driveline Traction control
- 1st row regular express open/close sliding and tilting glass Sunroof
- 19" painted BBS forged aluminum Wheels
- front air conditioning, dual zone automatic
- driver and front passenger heated-cushion, heated-seatback Heated front seats
- SiriusXM AM/FM/HD/Satellite, seek-scan Radio
- 1st row LCD monitor
- keyfob (all doors) Remote keyless entry
- Heated mirrors
- Windshield wipers - rain sensing
- leather Seat trim
- driver Lumbar support
- Navigation system
- Parking assist
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Lexus GS F Features and Specs
Heated & Ventilated Front Sport Bucket Seats -inc: 10-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seats w/power lumbar support and 3-position memory
8-Way Driver Seat
Bench Front Facing Rear Seat
Power Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Voltmeter, Engine Coolant Temp, Tachometer, Oil Temperature, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
Power Rear Windows
Selective Service Internet Access
Leather/Metal-Look Steering Wheel w/Auto Tilt-Away
Proximity Key For Doors And Push Button Start
Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, 4 Door Curb/Courtesy, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button
Remote Releases -Inc: Power Cargo Access and Power Fuel
HomeLink Garage Door Transmitter
Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
Distance Pacing w/Traffic Stop-Go
Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning
HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts and Console Ducts
Illuminated Locking Glove Box
Driver Foot Rest
Leather Seat Trim -inc: "F" logo embroidered on all four headrests
Interior Trim -inc: Carbon Fiber Instrument Panel Insert, Carbon Fiber Door Panel Insert, Carbon Fiber Console Insert, Chrome/Metal-Look Interior Accents and Simulated Suede Upholstered Dashboard
Full Cloth Headliner
Simulated Suede Door Trim Insert
Leather Gear Shifter Material
Day-Night Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination, Driver And Passenger Auxiliary Mirror
Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 2 12V DC Power Outlets
Front And Rear Map Lights
Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front And Rear Floor Mats
Carpet Floor Trim and Carpet Trunk Lid/Rear Cargo Door Trim
Cargo Features -inc: Spare Tire Mobility Kit
Cargo Space Lights
Door Mirrors and Steering Wheel
FOB Controls -inc: Cargo Access, Windows and Sunroof/Convertible Roof
Smart Device Remote Engine Start
Integrated Navigation System w/Voice Activation
Lexus Enform Safety Connect Tracker System
Smart Device Integration
Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins
Power 1st Row Windows w/Front And Rear 1-Touch Up/Down
Delayed Accessory Power
Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
Redundant Digital Speedometer
Outside Temp Gauge
Seats w/Leatherette Back Material
Fixed Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
Front Center Armrest and Rear Center Armrest w/Pass-Thru w/Storage
2 Seatback Storage Pockets
2 12V DC Power Outlets
2020 Lexus GS F review: So good, but far from the best
Despite its flaws, I think the GS F has still got it where it counts. It's certainly done its part to fight Lexus' reputation for boring luxury cars. This particular example's 193.5-inch length has been coated in eye-catching Flare Yellow paint (a $595 option) that turns heads everywhere I go. The exterior design is more aggressive than the standard GS, with sharpened front and rear aerodynamics, glossy black trim for the wing mirrors and rear diffuser and a carbon fiber lip spoiler on the trunk. Blistered fenders terminate in Lexus F's trademark fender vents and you'll spot blue, stylized "F" badges from every angle.
And yet, the GS F is still about as comfortable as the standard GS. Its 112.2-inch wheelbase leaves plenty of space in the cabin for passengers (91 cubic feet) and in the trunk for cargo (14 cubic feet). Aside from a slightly stiffer ride, the only real compromise the GS F makes is the loss of its fold-down rear seats and trunk pass-through for hauling long items.
Yellow, not mellow
The GS F's performance formula is a simple one: A big, naturally aspirated engine up front sending power to the rear. Tucked in behind the massive Lexus grille, you'll find a 5.0-liter V8 good for 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque, which it sends to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. In its sportiest setting, Lexus reckons a 0-to-60-mph sprint should take just 4.5 seconds; top speed is stated at an electronically limited 168 mph. Those are respectable numbers for a big, 4,034-pound sedan.
The GS F's performance formula is a simple one. There's no hybridization or forced induction to complicate things. That, along with Lexus' legendary reputation for reliability, makes me confident that owners will be enjoying the GS F's performance for many years and thousands of miles. However, the GS F doesn't benefit from the efficiency gains of its more sophisticated competition. At an EPA estimated 19 miles per gallon combined (16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway) the GS F's fuel economy is fine, but nothing to write home about. During my week of testing, I averaged just 17.6 mpg.
Lexus' Torque Vectoring Differential lives on the rear axle where it actively sends shifts power to the outside rear wheel when cornering to enhance the sedan's handling. The driver can choose between three modes -- Standard, Slalom and Track -- for somewhat fine control over how the GS F changes directions. Standard is the default setting for daily driving. Slalom boosts agility, giving the most rotation on the tight, low to medium speed corners. Track emphasizes stability on high-speed turns. That's in addition to the five drive modes -- Sport, Sport Plus, Normal, Eco and Custom -- that affect the GS F's throttle response, transmission programming, steering feel and more.
For the sort of driving I enjoy most -- hustling up and down twisty California mountain roads -- the Slalom differential setting and Sport drive mode prove to be the most enjoyable combination. The GS F isn't the most powerful model in this class, but you'd never notice without a stopwatch. Plus, the V8's fantastic burble and linear, predictable throttle feel bring me more joy than knowing that my numbers are bigger than the next guy's.
Meanwhile, the GS F is surprisingly agile, yet not at all punishing or twitchy over the uneven pavement one often finds on such secluded stretches of road. The GS F rides on a set of 19-inch, forged BBS alloy wheels in standard matte black or an optional $600 hand-polished finish. The wheels are shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires and staggered with 255/35R19 tires up front and 275/35R19s at the rear.
Peering through the front wheels' 10 spokes are Brembo six-piston monoblock caliper brakes that grab 14.9-inch discs. Out back, you'll find complimentary Brembo four-pots and 13.5-inch discs out back. Suspending the vehicle over the rolling stock is a forged aluminum F Adaptive variable suspension with a double-wishbone setup for the front axle and a multilink rear.
Like the powertrain, the handling department features some modern touches, but mostly keeps it simple. There's no fancy air suspension or magnetic-ride dampers, just a well-tuned suspension that does an excellent job balancing a sporty, yet supple feel.
Accidentally retro cockpit
Gorgeous F Sport seats with perforated leather and suede trim suspend the driver in the cockpit and are, I think, the highlight of the GS F's cabin. The sport buckets feel fantastic -- comfortable for the longest hauls with heated and ventilated surfaces, yet very grippy and supportive during more spirited passages. And they look amazing alongside the steering wheel and shift lever, with their matching perforated leather and white and blue contrast stitching, and the glossy carbon fiber trim on the center console.
The rest of the cabin is more subjective. On one hand, the dashboard, climate controls and tech feel a tad dated, especially compared to the much more modern competition. On the other hand, that adds to the Lexus' classic charm. The GS F's cabin feels like the most modern interpretation of late '90s Lexus design and I kind of love that.
The neatest tech feature is the LFA-styled motorized digital instrument cluster with its physical sliding bezel that reveals a trip computer and other information. The cluster boasts electronic gauges that change their style to match the current drive mode. The tech is a bit older and not as flexible or powerful as Audi's Virtual Cockpit or Mercedes-Benz's massive screens, but the design works well with the rest of the Lexus cabin design and is always a treat to see in action.
My example also features a $900 head-up display that's a cool get, but probably not worth the extra dough.
Modern-ish safety tech
The GS F comes standard with the Lexus Safety System Plus advanced driver assistance suite, which rolls in a number of familiar technologies. Up front, the standard triple-beam LED headlamps feature intelligent high beams that automatically activate on dark roads and dip when another vehicle is detected ahead. Also standard is adaptive cruise control that works at all speeds, allowing for creeping during stop-and-go traffic. There's a precollision braking assist function with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a standard rear camera.
The GS F also features a highway lane-keeping system with steering assist and lane-departure alerts. It's not as advanced as Toyota/Lexus' latest generation Lane Tracing Assist, but not bad for a vehicle that hasn't been significantly updated since the fourth-gen GS' launch in 2012.
Lexus Enform: Technophiles need not apply
The area where the GS F's simple and forgivably dated vibe falls apart in the infotainment tech. Central on the dashboard, a 12.3-inch widescreen display is home to Lexus Enform cabin tech software. This is an older version of Enform, shared only by the Lexus IS at this point, with a frustrating menu system and an even more infuriating Remote Touch control scheme.
You can interact with the system using the Remote Touch controller, a sort of joystick located on the center console, to move a cursor on the screen. In practice, this is a terribly imprecise way to move around the interface, requiring a scary amount of my attention for simple tasks. Lexus does lock most of the advanced features (such as destination entry) when the vehicle is in motion. Even when stopped, entering an address with the controller was tedious.
With its included one year Lexus Enform Remote subscription, you can take advantage of Amazon Alexa integration and even monitor your vehicle with a phone or smartwatch app while away from the car. However, there is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity to use while inside the car.
Fortunately, there's a decent voice-command system and physical controls for things like radio tuning and climate controls. After spending weeks with the newer Lexus LS and LC, which hide simple things like their seat heater controls three levels deep in on-screen menus, it's nice to be able to tap a damn button for many of the GS F's more commonly used functions.
If you don't care about good navigation software, apps or smartphone connectivity, I think you could eventually develop enough muscle memory for the Remote Touch controller to get past the annoyance. But the learning curve is a steep one and just not worth the effort compared to newer, competing infotainment suites that manage to cram more features into less distracting interfaces.
Price and competition
The 2020 Lexus GS F starts at a heady $86,035 including its $1,025 destination charge. My modestly equipped example rolls in at an as-tested $90,395, with wheels, paint, premium audio and other odds and ends adding to the bottom line. It's tempting to compare the GS F to the six-figure Mercedes-AMG E63 S, BMW M5 and their ilk. Among this cohort, the GS is a lot less potent, but also significantly less expensive. However, its true competitors -- economically and athletically -- are actually a tier lower.
Mercedes-AMG's E53 sedan squeezes 429 hp from its turbo six-cylinder, is slightly quicker to 60 mph at 4.4 seconds and starts at $74,795 including destination. The 440-hp Audi S6 starts at $74,895. BMW's M550i xDrive gets you 523 horsepower for $77,795. All of these land in the ballpark of the GS F's 467 hp with better fuel economy and all-wheel drive rather than RWD. All have better cabin and safety tech. And perhaps more importantly, all are around $10K less than the Lexus, comparably equipped.
The Lexus GS F isn't perfect, but it's handsomely styled inside and out, the V8 is a pleasure to wind up and the ride is agile without sacrificing daily driver comfort. It's still got legs on the eve of its discontinuation, almost a decade into this generation. It certainly wouldn't be the best choice in this highly competitive and shrinking class, but if you find one for a bargain, you want to grab a piece of Lexus history while you can or if you're just picking up what the GS F is putting down, it wouldn't be a bad choice, either.
Lexus hp gsf
With the 2020 GS F, Lexus takes its refined GS sedan and elevates it to sports-sedan status by way of a high-revving V-8, big brakes, and a sport-tuned suspension. The GS F is getting a bit old, but that doesn't mean we've grown tired of its brawny intake sounds and rear-wheel-drive platform. In fact, the GS F is somewhat of a dying breed, utilizing a naturally aspirated V-8 rather than a smaller, boosted engine to make its power. The GS F isn't all hot rod, however. It also offers a capacious trunk, roomy interior, and a suite of standard driver-assistance technologies. If you're shopping for distinction, performance, and comfort in the mid-size luxury-sedan segment, then the GS F is a car worth checking out.
What's New for 2020?
For 2020, the GS F doesn't change much. The standard 19-inch wheels, sideview mirror caps, and B-pillars have been changed from gray to black for the 2020 model year. Additionally, the old orange Brembo brake calipers have been discontinued. In their place is an optional blue Brembo caliper for no extra cost.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The GS F doesn't have any additional trims, only options. If we were to purchase one, we'd have to add the blue Brembos and the $1400 Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system. Apart from that, anything else is extra, as the GS F comes standard with all the creature features you'd expect in a nearly $90,000 vehicle, including Lexus's Safety System+ suite of driver-assistance technologies.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Unlike its lesser GS sibling, the F is available with only one powertrain combination: a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine producing 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends its power to the rear wheels. The last GS F we tested charged to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and hit the quarter-mile mark in 12.9 seconds at 113 mph. The big Lexus still struggles to keep pace with its competitors from Germany—most of which are into the high three-second range to 60 mph—mainly due to its lack of all-wheel drive. Most shoppers won't miss the slight lack in power, though. They'll be too busy enjoying the well-damped suspension and burly V-8 crescendo as they bomb down the interstate on the way to their next stockholder meeting.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
According to the EPA, the 2020 Lexus GS F should return 16/24 mpg city/highway. Compared with its competitors—all of which have some form of forced induction such as turbos or superchargers, hybrid technology, and lower-displacement six or eight cylinders—the GS F is at a slight disadvantage. But considering the glorious sounds of the non-turbo V-8, it's easy to forgive the shortcomings. In our time with the GS F, we observed a surprising figure of 27 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test. For comparison, the E53 sedan managed a 22 mpg overall and a whopping 32 mpg on our highway loop.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The cabin of the GS F isn't necessarily the most luxurious, but it isn't cheap, either. Some competitors have richer materials and feel more premium. However, there is no denying the GS F's sporting intentions. The dashboard and center console feature inlaid carbon fiber, and most other surfaces are covered with either leather or faux suede. The bolstered leather seats are supportive and comfortable. That's a great combination whether you're carving corners or crawling along in traffic. Other competitors do a better job of injecting their interiors with more class and rich materials than the GS, but few can match its comparatively enormous cargo hold. At 18 cubic feet, it handily beats class leaders such as the Mercedes-Benz E-class and the Audi A6. Overall, we wish the GS F were a bit more opulent, considering its $86,000 price.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All 2020 Lexus GS F models come with a 12.3-inch display coupled to Lexus's Remote Touch Interface infotainment system, which makes use of a rectangular mouse-like controller. Using the system requires some practice, and even then it never quite feels natural. The GS F does come standard with a crisp 12-speaker sound system, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, and voice-activated navigation. The GS F has few extras to add onto its lengthy standard features list save for a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and a head-up display.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2020 Lexus GS F hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This Lexus sedan comes with an impressive amount of standard driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include:
- Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
- Standard lane-departure warning system
- Standard forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The 2020 Lexus GS F boasts an impressive warranty. Its complimentary maintenance coverage, however, is remarkably stingy with only the first visit covered.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 6 years or 70,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance for 6 months or 5000 miles
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