By on March 18, 2017

2016 Lexus GS350 red

When the second-generation Lexus GS 400 arrived in North America in late 1997, the automaker paired the introduction with a can’t-miss-it ad campaign. “Something wicked this way comes,” the glossy advertisements warned of the looming V8 model.

Well, that ominous late-90s tagline would soon be a lie, as rumor states that the 2018 model year could be the last for Lexus’ sporty midsize luxury sedan. There just might not be room in the lineup for this once-boastworthy rear-driver.

According to the Lexus Enthusiast blog (via Jalopnik), Toyota has suspended development of a next-generation GS, which would make next year the GS’ last. The automaker hasn’t verified the supposed scoop, but the original source cites the model’s positioning within the brand’s lineup as the reason for its eventual cancellation.

Basically, the source claims the GS is being muscled out of a shrinking passenger car lineup by existing Lexus models and its own diminishing image. On the surface, there’s plenty of truth to this.

For the 2018 model year, Lexus’s restyled flagship LS adopts a V6-only powertrain and improved driving dynamics. Between that model, the smaller IS and the less-sporty midsize ES, the GS doesn’t cover much territory. Compounding the problem is last year’s steep sales drop.

Last year, Lexus moved 14,878 GS sedans in the U.S., a decrease of 36 percent compared to the previous year.

“The real factor is just the inability of virtually anybody to break into this category,” said TTAC sales guru Tim Cain. “Last year, in a rough year for the E-Class, total E-Class/CLS sales outsold GS 3.4-to-1. BMW 5 Series more than doubled GS, and that was as 5 Series sales tumbled as they approached replacement.”

When contacted, Lexus’ senior communications manager Nancy Hubbell wouldn’t confirm or deny that this GS generation would be the last. Her words did, however, add fuel to the rumor fire.

“We haven’t announced anything about the GS. There will be a 2018 model and we’ll take it from there,” Hubbell told TTAC. It’s the last part of the second sentence that may raise a few eyebrows.

While we’re still waiting for confirmation, Lexus die-hards have plenty of reason to fear that the GS may depart this earth at the ripe age of 25.

[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]

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73 Comments on “Something Wicked No More? Next Year Could Be the Lexus GS’ Last...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    This leaves room for an LS-F with a 6.0L version of the 2UR V8, right?
    /s

    There aren’t going to be any naturally-aspirated V8 sedans for sale by calendar year 2021 and there won’t be any naturally-aspirated V8 cars at all by 2025.

  • avatar
    shedkept

    Still an ugly son-of-a-buck coming.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I wonder if an after-market front clip is possible? That alien maw is the main ugly bit.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The previous one might fit.

        • 0 avatar
          TonyJZX

          I am even more amazed a Toyota official photo would go out of their way to accentuate the front bar.

          There are undoubtedly some Japanese tuner and American backyard aftermarket front bars (or air dams) that are less divisive (!!!) but you can expect varying results but you can almost guarantee they look better. Google pops up some pleasing results.

          Thing is the car is otherwise quite conservative conventional which I quite like.

          Pity about the nose.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Motor Trend put it in 3rd behind CTS Vsport and Audi S6….that GS-F st $80,000+.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Very interesting: GS sales tanked in 2011 at 3746 units, surged back in 2012 with 22,160 and have since averaged 20,419 annually.

    1) That’s not enough for its class?

    2) 2012 introduced Predator Face, albeit a less egregious one than today’s. So the advent of Ugly triggered an almost six-fold increase in sales.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Never liked the front end on the current Lexuseses. Looks like they have a herniated radiator and need an appropriate truss.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So Mercedes fracks up the E-Klasse and is rewarded while Lexus sells the same thing infinitely better and is dinged 36%?

    I really hate humanity.

  • avatar
    dima

    Makes sense. For once, with this new style for entire Lexus lineup It is hard to distinguish GS from ES. I personally own 2008 GS 350 AWD, and can tell you when given ES as a loaner car, I do vastly prefer ride quality of ES. Granted GS is sportier, but not by much. IS in my opinion is much better car if you looking for a fun driving. Also, cost of GS is substantially higher then ES or IS so no wonder that customers having harder time justifying cost of GS. On top of this, technologically speaking, there was not a dramatic leap forward from GS of 2008 till now, I am talking about drive train and suspension. I think it is about time they get read of it.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’d assume that the GS350 F-Sport or GS-F would have a lot more edge than a GS350 AWD or ES. Although you are correct that the pricing is fairly dear on the top spec models.

      If the GS does die, I hope the 5.0L finds its way into the IS somehow.

      • 0 avatar
        dima

        Yes it would, but for less you can get IS 350 F-Sport that is lighter and having same engine and trany as GS350, and more fun.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          When I drive my IS 250 to lunch, the backseat passengers grumble. Until the women notice them getting out of a Lexus.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Are you sure they weren’t speculating about whether your companions were rehearsing for the circus without having their red noses and giant shoes on?

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            had an IS 250 F as a loaner, can confirm the back seat is cramped compared to the GS, the driver’s much more enclosed by center console and door intrusions, and the women do look at you different when you climb out (in a way you could turn into trouble). The notice enhancement works just as well as the more expensive GS. I’m open to a screaming good deal on a GS, the IS won’t work for me.

            I think Lexus isn’t making a compelling value proposition with the GS. It’s almost as expensive, not the fastest, not the most luxurious, and sees sales that reflect that.

            Used? Now we’re talking. It has more perceived longevity and reliability than the germans but depreciates based on loosing all the status associated with a current year luxury vehicle just like the competition. Lexus is trying to sell new cars based on making better used cars. Status wears off just as fast with a reliable car as a money pit.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The engine choices aren’t helping GS sales. The 3.5 doesn’t provide enough torque for this class of car.

    The new turbo 3.5 from the new LS would have helped make the GS a much more attractive prospect.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    This is too bad. Done right, a midsize luxury car should be the Goldilocks model; in this case more comfortable than the smaller IS and a more manageable footprint than the gigantic LS.

    Considering the horrendous quality reputation of the German competitors, I’m surprised the GS hasn’t had more success. I guess that doesn’t matter when most cars are leased.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      It’s a pity. Seems like a fine car, although it does have some garish details in the “sporty” trims.

      I think the GS has always suffered from being squeezed between the cheaper ES below and the plusher LS above. Maybe more to the point, Lexus built its image on numb plushness, and the GS’s role as Lexus’s sport sedan just seems never to have been embraced by consumers who figure Germany just automatically does sport better.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Agreed on both points. In particular, the ES is a problem for the GS.

        I think the ES is missing two cylinders and has the engine mounted the wrong way, but maybe 5% of potential buyers care about that. The other 95% see a less expensive, at least as comfortable car with more interior space. Besides, the GS has also been missing two cylinders for a while, unless you spring for the GS-F.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      It is too bad. The GS is the car I always figured I’d want once I was a few years older and wansn’t so dead set on a manual transmission. It’s just exciting enough. Kind of like the 4Runner my wife wants once the kids are older–Something to buy new and keep for the long hall. I guess long term reliability really doesn’t make for much of a selling proposition in this segment.

  • avatar
    make_light

    When this gen first debuted, it looked great- taut, clean, handsome, with a nice interior. Then they uglified it with a garish refresh.

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    That thing looks like it has a tumor growing off it’s front end. It appears to be malignant.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    From the day they introduced the GS as a model, I failed to understand its place in the Lexus world. What, ES wasn’t enough? Maybe you could make an ES special edition of some kind to solve whatever problem GS was solving?

    And then they brought out IS. Then it REALLY didn’t make sense.

    3, 5, 7. IS, ES, LS. The car world isn’t that hard.

    The GS was Toyota being first at what the Germans finally did, which is slicing and dicing things–in this case their midrange sedan business–into indistinguishable differing bits. And that costs money.

    I get it, that now whatever value they saw in doing this is gone on the sedan side. Now they’re putting their attention, and their resource$, onto the SUV side to do the same thing.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      F*ck every last automaker that goes to turbo 4s in vehicles that previously had I6/V6 or V8 motors standard.

      I do not care what “everyone, everywhere (especially in weenie-euro land) is doing.”

      F*ck them. Three times with a dull instrument.

      And Lexus vehicles that wanted to be “hard-edged sports cars” never measured up, anyways. They are ugly, ungainly, never had the appropriate suspension tuning, chassis’, or steering qualities necessary to make the cut, and they just were blah.

      F*ck Lexus* in their anus.

      *The only truly great sports car they ever made was the LS-F, which cost 3x as much (or 4x as much, maybe even 5x) as sports cars nearly as good.

      F*ck BMW.

      F*ck Mercedes, too (CLA/GLA and base 4 bangers in many of the vehicles are unpardonable sins).

      Let Acura just die already (the NSX is a grotesque, overpriced pig of a “halo” sports car and the rest of their lineup is just patheticAlly.

      Obviously, F*CK Cadillac with a baseball bat. Cheap, harsh, unrefined, unreliable, disposable garbage, increasingly sourced from slave-labor parts’ providing nations, and China parts-content and assembly.

      • 0 avatar
        frnpwrbby97

        Oh, Cadillac. You are so right. I couldn’t believe how unreliable my 2012 SRX was. It was lemon-lawed and replaced with a 2013 GLK350. My GLK never saw a service department for warranty work and has been out of warranty for months now. I also have a brand new Infiniti Q70L parked right next to it. I’ve only had it 6 months and that too hasnt been back to the dealer. Is it any wonder why Cadillac can’t sell cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      The first GS was designed by Giugiaro back in 1991. It was very similar to a proposed design for a mid-sized Jaguar that never panned out and many people think that it was recycled from that. The GS has always seemed to need a little more something to be a worthwhile competitor to the 5-series and E-Class and Lexus could never seem to get it together. The hideous ant-face styling certainly doesn’t help.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    When you compare the ES to GS and all you do is commute, pick up kids and go out from time to time, it’s incredibly hard to justify buying a GS over an ES.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      A customer looking for the GS, as in a RWD sporty midsize car, would not be served by the expensive Avalon (ES).

      Those who just want a Lexus and would not care if it handled like a shopping cart are better served by the ES. The badge is well placed, in full view.

      Maybe the guy who wants a sporty car will be okay with an IS or the supposed sporty next gen LS. Maybe not.

      I know a guy who bought an IS within the last year, but now says its too small and uncomfortable. I asked why he didn’t check out a GS. He said the dealer only showed him the IS when he said he wanted a sportier RWD car. I believe he would have been happier in the GS. He should have at least been shown one IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        The GS is mainly “sportier” than the ES on paper. And even then, only if one clings to outdated notions of what makes a car “sporty.”

        Even the non-M 5 series aren’t in any way a rewarding drive anymore, for anyone wanting a “sporty” car. While the Avalon is more dynamically competent than ever.

        In the “boring to drive midsize car” racing class, I’m sure the GS will get around a racetrack faster than an Avalon. But they’ll still both be….boring.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          So what are the modern notions of what make a car sporty and what is an example of an exciting to drive mid-size car?

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Having a manual would be a nice first step…. Can you get that even in an M5 these days?

            A tire package and stability control tuning that allows for some slip angles at sub go-straight-to-jail speeds is another quaint memory from the E34/39 era.

            And a high revving, responsive NA engine.

            These days, new cars are so dull that a literal electrical appliance is considered some sort of “exciting” and aspirational…

            Anyway, to not be so onesidedly negative: What about a Mazda 6? The Ace of Base model with with the sidewall package and a manual?

        • 0 avatar
          John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

          Avalon is more competent than ever? It was always a marshmallow, and its still on the platform dating back to 2003.

          Better than it ever was isn’t much room for bragging in this case. Its like saying the new F-450 gets the BEST MPG EVAAAH, but if it still tops out at 13.5, its not exactly worth bragging about.

          Can you get a V-8 in the ES? Is it RWD or AWD?
          Or is it just a bloated Camry than makes badge snobs feel good?

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            Not badge snobs; rather, people who want the extra equipment level.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            The ITR, Prelude, GTI, FiST, Mazdaspeed3, Civic R, FoST etc. were/are all FWD. While CUVs are AWD. And that F450 RWD. As is a school bus. Those old fashioned categorizations don’t mean much anymore, wrt driving involvement.

            In fact, I’d go so far as to say things are now largely flipped 180 degrees. Simply because the weight and bloat of all cars (except Miata, and that Alfa) have gotten so high, that sheer bloatedness completely overwhelms all other considerations when it comes to providing driver involvement. And, for one reason or another, most comparatively, by today’s standards, “lightweight” and “compact” cars, are FWD.

  • avatar
    John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

    I mourn the passing of any decent RWD car, but the only Lexus that has my attention is the RC 350 RWD.

    The new flagship coupe is nice, too, but I’d take the little RC with a n/a V-6. I would take the 2.0T if it was offered with a manual. Hell, I would take a non-turbo I-4 and a manual over that, with about $5-8k off the 2.0T sticker. Haha, maybe I’d be better served by the Toyobaru in that case, but I still really like the RC 350. The predator grille looks natural on it, it doesn’t look like an afterthought.

    Rant in 3, 2…
    I don’t get why Lexus has decided to suddenly turn the LS into a sporty big car. It will do nothing but alienate those who buy it because it’s the big soft Lexus. The few who will buy it for its pseudo sporty pretensions would be buying a redesigned GS instead, and would be all the better for it IMO. The LS should be more Maybach/baby Rolls, less M5 wanna-be than what it evidently will be now, albeit stuck with six cylinder power.

    That’s why they had the freaking GS in the lineup, for those who wanted a bigger, but sporty, car.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Lexus just can’t compete with the Germans. BMW and Mercedes equivalents outsell the GS by 2+ to 1 in the US, but by 20+ to 1 in Europe and China, so they get good economies of scale and can invest in the best technology and frequent updates and still be profitable. Lexus is only strong in the US, and unless they hit a sweet spot in the market such as the RX, or share a platform with a good selling Toyota, such as the ES, they just can’t make a decent profit.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      If you substitute Ford and F-150 for Toyota/Lexus and the models, and “mid size trucks built in Thailand” for zee Germanz, you sound just like some broken record Aussies I know.

  • avatar
    Legitbutter

    What about just making the GS the top level Toyota? Rebirth of the Cressida? I mean if the Avalon is an ES that is reasonably priced, can’t those of us who don’t need a badge get a reskined reasonably priced GS?

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      That’s a great idea. Want an Avalon, but with something different that isn’t in your neighbor’s driveway? Get a Cressida–RWD!

      It’s all about marketing. Marketing has taught people to be scared of RWD. It can just as well tell people to embrace RWD.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      There’s already a GS-like RWD top level Toyota: it’s called a Toyota Crown. The reliability you expect from Toyota, the comfort you expect from a full-size sedan, but without a luxury badge tax.

      • 0 avatar
        Legitbutter

        Yeah the crown is in Japan not the U.S. besides isn’t the crown more like the LS? Isn’t the Japanese equivalent of the GS the mark x? I just want a decent reliable rwd sedan that can drive better than the average boring fwd mid sizer. No, the upcoming Kia stinger is not going to work.

        • 0 avatar
          Noble713

          The Mark X is kinda between the IS and GS (wheelbase/length-wise), but MUCH closer to the IS both in weight and overall sportiness. I understand your frustration, if I was in the US I’d be screaming for basically a RWD 2018 Camry or Civic….nobody makes anything like that anymore.

          Toyota produces left-hand drive Mark Xs and Crowns in China. Dunno why they don’t import them to the US. I’d be really surprised if they weren’t up to Toyota Japan’s standards crash test-wise.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I’ll tell you one thing they really screwed up on the GS. The rear has almost no legroom despite being a “midsize”.

    It might as well just be a 2 door coupe.

    It basically threw the car out of contention for me.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I really wanted to like this car. I test drove an 08′ GS AWD and did not like it one bit. Moved myself up price point quite a bit to a 14′ GS 350 AWD.

    It was better than the 08′ but not by much. I respectively submit that the sales of the car are flat because the value is not there when you truly compare this car with what is available. As I have mentioned, I ended up going with a 14′ Lacrosse AWD. Everything about the Buick is better in my opinion. Faster, quieter, runs on pump gas instead of premium, much more usable space in the back seat.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    It doesn’t sell well because it is brutally overpriced. If you look at the resale value after 3 or 4 years, where the market determines the actual value of your car, it falls off a cliff. Now this is understandable with its German competitors because they are all being sold nowadays as lease vehicles and after that you have to discount the price heavily for the fact that you will have to spend a fortune to keep these cars on the road. But a Lexus is (or should be) a car that you can keep for 250,000 miles without draining your bank account on repairs.

    Now this presents a great opportunity for people who want these cars and are willing to buy used (plus the super ugly front clip only starts in 2015, before that it was merely ugly) but those looking to buy new get sticker shock. The value proposition is just not there in the new vehicles.

    Now when it comes to luxury cars, to some extent the high price is not a bug, it’s a feature – part of the appeal to buyers is that your neighbor can’t afford one. Hyundai has, with the Genesis, tried the idea of “bargain priced luxury car” and to some extent it’s an oxymoron. But those looking for that kind of image based appeal would rather buy a Mercedes anyway. So the bargain seekers gravitate to Genesis or buy used and the image seekers go German and GS (along with Acura and Infiniti) is in that uncomfortable Macy’s middle niche where they are too expensive for bargain seekers and not prestigious enough for image seekers so they really don’t appeal to anyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Legitbutter

      That is why I said reskin it and put a Toyota badge on it (still don’t trust hyundai, there is a reason they have 10 year warranties). Drop the sticker at least ten grand and you have a “sporty” rear drive interesting Toyota. It would be rare in that market and dribe some sales. Make it what the Maxima should have been in the market. I really want a new rear drive family sedan. Come on make a cressida. Sell the Avalon to the Buick buyers. I don’t want to look at used cars.

  • avatar
    orange260z

    My local dealers (in a large Canadian city) don’t even stock the GS any more. As such, you can’t even try the car before ordering it. I recently shopped in the “Goldilocks” category and ended up buying a CTS. Being a past Lexus IS300 and LS400 owner, there was a big part of me that would have liked to buy a GS, but it wasn’t a viable option.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I drive a 2000 GS400, bought in 2010. The single best thing I’ve paid money for. So, Obviously this news stings a little. I do get that the GS is no longer differentiated enough in the line-up, that’s Lexus fault – the IS350 is on the same platform and uses the same engine for less money. When my car was new the IS was more distinctly different in size and in purpose, and was distinguished by the 2JZ six being its only engine choice. I don’t know how anyone could compare the ES to the GS, one is FWD! I think the problem with GS is Lexus’ choices in positioning and equipping the car. Lexus seems to be copying all the other manufacturers methods, when before they seemed to stick to their own ideas and path. With the current GS they should have looked to offer something more different than the IS. I think they should have made the GS a V8 only car. Instead, they offer a V8 GS-F at a huge premium over the V6 car, thus guaranteeing there will be few sales. I’ve driven the new GS350 and its a great car, the interior is fantastic and it certainly fast enough. But, that V6 just completely lacks character, and sucks the perceived value out of the car for me. My GS400 is getting a little old at 17-years, and when I think to replace it, the only thing that comes to mind is a 2005 GS430.

  • avatar
    07NodnarB

    Ugh, I predicted this outcome towards the end of last year, with sales plummeting, seemingly the refresh, which I thought was alright, seemed to turn potential buys off. Shame. I have loved the GS since day 1, but it is true, with ES and GS being around same size, and GS sales slow, that Lexus would cancel GS, and increase price on ES to make it more of a 5 competitor. : (

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “The real factor is just the inability of virtually anybody to break into this category,” said TTAC sales guru Tim Cain.”

    I disagree with this analysis. The GS was a decent seller for many years. Ten years ago, they were selling upwards of 30,000 of them a year. As recently as 2015, they were moving over 20,000 a year of them – not spectacular, but not a failure, either.

    The same thing that’s killing the GS is killing every single other midsize luxury sedan: the crossover.

    CUVs put the dagger in yet another sedan. Pour one out.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Buy used and have two cars for the price of one new car you don’t really like. I have a 2010 F-150 and a 2007 CTS-V. Each is great at what it does and both don’t add up to what a new SUV will set one back.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This is a real shame. Aside from the stupid infotainment interface, I think the GS350 F may be the perfect midsize luxury car. Just quick enough, just big enough, good looking in and out IMO, brilliant to drive, reliable, well priced etc.

    For whatever it’s worth there’s definitely an opportunity to replace it on the crossover side. Something like a QX70 (the FX) doesn’t weigh too much more.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    I own a GS and love it. But I own it and am not leasing it. And I think everyone in this class leases. It has gotten stellar reviews for its handling, but I admit it needs more hp for the class. The interior is well crafted but busy.

    What I would be worried about is that they try and do a tweener like the CTS and G by oversizing the IS. Always feels like a budget play

    Better to just put the IS, GS, and RC all on the same platform and reduce costs.

    The predator grill never bothered me, but I think the LS and LC have much better iterations of it. I agree with the commentor above who says it and the ES look too similar.

    But retreating from this class would be a huge black-eye for Lexus.

    Their lineup is kind of a mess anyway, so I don’t know why they aren’t cleaning up their longstanding SUV mess of (1) super small; (2) good size, but only two rows; (3) truck; (4) off-roader to something more normal like (1) small (2) medium with 3 rows) and (3) LS-based luxury crossover at the top of the range.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I am very confused at how we’re getting that the GS has been around for 25 years.

    Debut in 1998, dies in 2018. Twenty?


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