2015 Lexus GS350 F-Sport - the long-term Oppo review

Still looks pretty good, IMHO
Photo: WilliamsSW

Highlights: Bringing my son home from the hospital in this car will be a memory that will last me a lifetime. Near perfect reliability

Lowlights: Transmission, horrific infotainment interface

Well, after 36 months and 39k miles, it is time to say goodbye to the Lexus - the lease is up, and it goes back to the dealer tomorrow. Overall, it was a supremely reliable and comfortable cruiser, if a bit on the bland side.


Exterior 7/10

Overall, I like the styling of this car - - the 2015 doesn’t have *quite* as much of the Predator-look that later years have. However, it looks sportier than it actually is, and I think the curves of the greenhouse conflict with some of the sharper angles front and rear. And of course those exhaust tips are fake (like most cars these days...). I like the wheels, and they held up well- only 1 wheel has a slight bit of curb rash.

Interior 8/10


The interior is a very nice place to be - - for front seat passengers. Materials feel good (with an exception I’ll talk about under “Toys”) and controls fall to hand. Most importantly, the seats are very comfortable and easy to adjust. Visibility is good, also - which seems to be an issue with many new cars.


The rear seat, however, is tight on legroom for the size of the car - it’s smaller than a 5-series or E-Class. This was an issue for my wife, who sits in the back on longer trips to be next to our son. She was adamant that this car’s replacement have more room in the back.

As an added bonus, the interior is a dark red color (Cabernet? Merlot? Whatever). I wasn’t sure if I would continue to like the color after having the car for a while, but I love it - at least there’s 1 thing in the car that isn’t grey!


One last dumb item - the rear seats do not fold down. At all. It wasn’t a big deal for me, because I have a truck, but this car should have folding seats, come on.

Engine/Gearbox (7.5 and 5 out of 10, respectively)

It’s fine, I guess? 0-60 is somewhere just shy of 6 seconds. I combined the three categories into one here, because with this car, you just can not talk about them separately - thanks mainly to the transmission.


The engine is good, and reasonably smooth - though the noises with windows aren’t that pleasant, which I would chalk up to the intake system. The one quirk of the engine is that it seems to surge a bit around 2,000 RPM - like VTEC is kicking in (yo!). I’d blame the electronic throttle, not the engine itself, and it’s not that difficult to modulate once you’re used to the car.

The bigger issue is the gearbox - it’s a 6 speed slushbox, and was behind the times for this class of car in 2015. I believe the GS got an 8 speed in 2016, and I’m sure that was a big improvement. Shifts are fairly slow, and half throttle often leads to indecision on gear selection in either normal or sport mode. I also think that the trans is what holds the acceleration (and gas mileage) back. If you compare this car directly with the 2015 5-series, you basically get 4-cylinder acceleration with 6 cylinder gas mileage. Not ideal.


What I struggled with is that during most of the time I had this car, my wife had a 2015 BMW X3 3.5i xDrive blah blah blah. Both cars were basically rated at 300 HP and around 4,000 lb - - but her car would blow the doors off of the Lexus in any kind of drag race. My butt dyno estimated that there was a good 0.5 second difference in the 0-60 times between the two. Probably due to the BMW being underrated, and the vast difference in the transmissions.

Braking 8.5/10

The brakes are great, and pedal feel is pretty good (and firm) as well - and perhaps the best part is that I never replaced pads or rotors in 39k miles. From what OpposResidentLexusGuy has told me, they’re pretty pricey on the F-Sport. I’m happy to have not experienced that!


Ride 8.5/10

Firm, but not overly so - and a great car for soaking up hours of interstate at 80 mph. I like to be able to feel the road without getting beat to death, and this car strikes a decent balance.


Handling 6.5/10

This car handles quite well for what it is, but really understeers too much for my taste (full disclosure - it’s AWD, which doesn’t help this). On curves, as long as you can keep your foot in the throttle a bit, you can mitigate this feeling, and the car will happily turn. Turning while decelerating is nowhere near as balanced as my E46, though (yes, I realize this is a high bar, but that car is my benchmark). The car is no lightweight, which it will happily remind you of when you drive it hard.


Steering is bleah, and void of feel - Sport Plus mode just makes the wheel harder to turn, really. That is our reality these days, however — the world is moving to electric power steering, and even BMW says that its customers don’t care about steering feedback. Having driven a LOT of cars in looking for its replacement, most cars in this class are pretty bleah, so the Lexus is basically mid-pack here. (sadtrombone.gif).

As an added plus, though, the AWD and all-seasons on the car gave me ZERO issues over 3 mild Chicago winters - and the traction control was actually loose enough that I could still have some fun in the snow in this car (albeit not full on snownuts).


Audio 9.5/10

Simply the best car audio I have ever had in my life - -and this car does NOT have the Mark Levinson audio (I suppose that would have been an 11/10). Even listing to broadcast radio at full volume - which is very loud - it sounds clear. I will miss this...


Toys 7.5/10


Look at that screen!! Ok, the picture doesn’t do it justice here, but that’s a 12 inch screen with great resolution. However...

The ‘mouse’ input thingy sucks ass. It’s both imprecise AND laggy - and Google gives you wayyyy better directions than the nav system in this car. So the only thing that I used the map for was situational awareness - which I still like, but it’s not really getting the full benefit of that nav screen.


Beyond that, the car has a sunroof, automatic headlights, auto parking break, rain sensing wipers (which actually work most of the time!!), backup camera, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor etc etc - all of which I used and enjoyed. This car spoiled me a bit in this regard.

Value 7.5/10

See, here’s the thing - - with some of my complaints up above, you may be wondering why the hell I got this car? In reality, it does a bunch of things almost as well as a 5er or E-class, and does a bunch of other things *better* than those cars (interior materials, reliability to name two) — at significant discount, which might not show up in the MSRP, but sure as hell appears when you negotiate. Thanks in part to class overlap with the ES and a few other reasons, these cars sell at pretty big discounts. I’m sure that’s even more true now, as it appears that the 2018 GS will be the last of the breed.


Oh, and reliability? Over the course of 3 years, there was *one* time that Lexus somehow botched a software update which caused basically all of the radio/nav systems on these cars (nationwide) to crash - which required me to go to the dealer to reboot it. It was only annoying because it took the radio with it. That’s literally the ONLY thing that went wrong in 3 years. I didn’t even do anything other than basic maintenance/oil changes etc - no tires, no brake pads, no nothing.

Total 75.5/100

Overall, really a very good car for daily commuting and highway cruising. Best suited for people who like RWD chassis dynamics but don’t push the car that hard.

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