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2017 Lexus GS 200t Review By Steve Purdy

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2017 LEXUS GS 200t
Review by Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Back-to-back review cars for us these past few weeks included a Volvo S90 and this Lexus GS200t – very similar cars in many ways. Price, size and powertrain match closely and both are mid- to full-size, luxury sedans. The biggest difference is that the Volvo is front-wheel drive and this Lexus is rear-wheel drive. Only the most knowledgeable and sophisticated driver would be able to feel that drivetrain difference, but the level of luxuriousness favors the Lexus.

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In the Lexus lineup the GS has been thought of as the “sport sedan” of the bunch. This newest version maintains some of that distinction but blurs the line between sport and luxury. The distinctive front styling around a massive interpretation of the Lexus spindle grille with exaggerated sculpting fades into more conservative styling around the rest of the car. The profile, stance and overall image projected by exterior styling is of a fine luxury sedan with a bit of aggression.

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The GS’s luxurious interior fit me beautifully in spite of my unconscionable girth. The driver’s seat and steering wheel have an exceptional amount of adjustment range to accommodate any size driver. The analog clock in the center of the horizontal themed dash adds to the luxurious ambiance. A large mulit-function screen is controlled by a mouse-like rocking pad that some journalist panned, but I find both novel and reasonably functional, particularly when compared to a touch screen. Good haptic and auditory feedback enhances scrolling around the screen for the functions we want. Certainly, there is a massive amount of information and function built into that system that requires some learning but it is reasonably intuitive.

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Leather seating front and rear is comfortable and generous. Rear seatbacks do not fold down but there is a pass-through for skis or a bit of lumber. A third passenger in the rear would require someone to sit on an uncomfortable hump, but that is the case with just about all cars that call themselves “5-passenger.” Trunk capacity is 14,3 cubic-feet, about average for this size car.

Some of our compatriots complain about the “nanny” technologies we find in this Lexus as well as many vehicles these days, and some laud them as important safety features. Assist systems like lane departure intervention, blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, electronic stability control, parking assist and certainly some yet-to-be-imagined systems that use sensors, algorithms and computer logic to help us drive safely continue to get better and find their way into more vehicles.

This high-tech Lexus cut me no slack on a four-hour road trip this weekend. We were only a few miles from home on the freeway when a car in the lane next to me decided to move into my lane without looking forcing me off onto the generous median-side apron. Then just a couple miles later another driver, distracted by a cell phone, began to drift into my lane causing me to swerve onto the rumble strip. Once back into my own lane the car beeped at me and presented a message with a cup-of-coffee icon on my dash said “Please take a break.”

Later, when surrounding traffic was light, I decided to explore the lane departure intervention by letting the car drift from one side of the lane to the other to see how effective it was. The car messaged me again, this time demanding I take hold of the steering wheel.

Nanny? Well, I guess you could call it that. But, I didn’t feel dissed. It’s just that the machinery and the software cannot fully understand human nuance all the time.

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The amazing powertrain in this 3,800-pound GS is a 2.0-liter with twin-scroll turbo makes a modest 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It feels like much more and Lexus claims a 7-second 0-to-60 time. The smooth and sophisticated 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters adds to the silky and strong acceleration as well as maximizing fuel economy. The EPA rates it at 22 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway and 26 mpg combined using premium fuel. Eco, Normal and Sport Modes allow us to customize our driving dynamics a bit. I left it on Normal mode most of the time. Our experience this week was mostly highway and suburban driving and we easily achieved 28 mpg.

The Lexus GS starts at $46,310. We have a good list of options on this one including: Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound, Navigation, and the Premium Package, 18-inch wheels, power trunk, Park Assist, and illuminated door sills bringing our total sticker price to $52,295. The GS also comes in an F-Sport version, a V6-powered GS 350 and 350 F-Sport and a GS 450h Hybrid and 450h F-Sport.

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On the road the GS handles just about any road conditions with ease. Here is Michigan we have it all, including some mighty coarse road surfaces. The GS takes these in stride quietly and comfortably with a feeling of full control. The chassis is stiff enough to hold its own and the car is well insulated to do it all quietly.

Competing head-to-head with rear-wheel drivers like BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class and Cadillac CTS this Lexus GS brings its own personality – one you should check out if you’re shopping in this segment of the market.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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