By on April 24, 2020

Lexus

That a print advertisement can still remain (near) top of mind two decades later speaks to the power of marketing, and maybe a little to the vehicle behind that famous ad: the Lexus GS.

After announcing a limited run of 2020 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition — a vehicle the brand calls the “best ever” GS, the automaker admitted that this is it for the model. The GS, which added a modicum of muscle to Lexus’ image back in the 90s, won’t live beyond the summer.

It was a long time coming, as no one could find any hint of a next-generation GS in Toyota’s product pipeline. Last year the premium brand axed the slow-selling base GS 300 model for 2020, further raising suspicion of a looming discontinuation.

The GS is a midsize, rear-drive car, and if you hadn’t noticed, those aren’t exactly selling like gangbusters these days.

“We are constantly evaluating model mixes throughout our lineup,” a Lexus spokesperson told Motor Authority on Friday. “In the declining sedan segment, GS family has represented a small amount of sales in the last few years.”

Lexus

The GS was the worst-performing model in Lexus’ lineup last year, with full-year sales falling 48.8 percent compared to 2018. Lexus claims the model accounted for just 4 percent of its passenger car sales, or 0.8 percent of sales in the midsize luxury segment.

Indeed, the 3,378 units Lexus unloaded last year was a dismal tally compared to years past. In 2012 and 2014, the GS topped the 20,000 mark; in the late ’90s, after the release of the second-generation model (MY1998) that prompted the famous ad campaign, Lexus reliably sold more than 30,000 GS sedans per year, with that barrier last topped in 2005.

While the model never set sales charts alight, it did offer enough sport and luxury to temp discerning buyers like Corey.

Lexus

So, what of the GS’ swan song? Just 200 of the limited edition models will roll off the line, boasting (funereal?) gloss black F Sport wheels, decklid spoiler, and side mirror caps and available in rear- or all-wheel-drive guise. Two colors, Ultra White and Caviar can be had. Inside, red accenting, Alcantara trim, and carbon fiber ornamentation tells all passengers they’re driving in something special, even if the 3.5-liter V6 under hood is stock GS 350.

In the trunk, you’ll find a two-piece luggage set (carry-on and travel case) designed for Lexus by Zero Halliburton, because why not. Lexus hasn’t yet listed pricing, but expect a decent markup from your basic GS 350 F Sport figures.

[Images: Lexus]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

55 Comments on “Something Wicked This Way Dies: Lexus GS Lined Up for Execution, Gasps Out a Final Special Edition...”


  • avatar
    dal20402

    The best GS ever wasn’t this one, but the 2013-14 GS450h with Luxury Package. Lexus sedans in general are more convincing when they go for luxury than sport.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s incredible how quickly this vehicle segment disintegrated. 20 years ago the mid-sized sports sedans were a huge thing for premium manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The segment is still there – the truth of the matter, I think, was that it was always ruled by the German brands, and still is. This car, along with the Cadillac CTS and Infiniti Q70 (and maybe even the Acura RLX, if you think about it), were the marginal players, and as the segment shrank, the marginal products got shut out.

      Said it below, but I’ll say it here too: the GS is a nice piece, but it’s not terribly compelling to drive. For (approximately) equal money, I’d definitely take one of the six-cylinder German alternatives.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Did I miss the memo about the GS-F dying? Did it already cease production?

    • 0 avatar

      The GS-F was the best GS, NOT this trim package.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      You could pay similar for either CTS-V or a GS-F. Only one has almost 200 lb-ft of torque more than the other.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        It’s a tough call. The CTS-V looks sinister and is extremely powerful. The GS-F has a naturally aspirated V8 that spins over 7000rpm and the trick differential.

        Force me to choose and I’d lean to the Cadillac, but in a perfect world there is room for both of them. Unfortunately there is apparently room for neither.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Exactly what @ajla said.

          Once upon a time there was room for both, now there is room for none.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          ajla
          GS has been Buick’s performance insignia for over 50 years. Lexus has only used it for 20. If they didn’t want to be compared they should have named the vehicle something else.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            That’s your problem with the Lexus? The name? That is one of the odder things I’ve read. They don’t even mean the same thing.

        • 0 avatar
          randyinrocklin

          @ajla, I would take reliability into consideration and Toyoduh has the edge I reckon.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Probably but the Cadillac’s reliability would likely still be passable and neither one would be my only vehicle anyway so I could survive a few diva moments.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Well, considering the CTS-V lives (as the CT5-V), and you can still buy hotted-up midsize luxury sedans from Mercedes, BMW, etc., there *is* room – it’s just a smaller room.

          I’d say the GS-F’s major problem was that the GS itself was always a kind of marginal player in this segment from day one – it was always ruled by Ze Germans.

          The GS was always nice, but it was never really compelling.

          Infiniti had a similar problem with the Q70.

          • 0 avatar

            It’s not equal money anymore. You’ll need to spend about $10,000 more (with zero options) to get six cylinders in a German comparable.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The ten grand is relative in this class – yes, a six-cylinder E450, 540 or A6 is about ten grand more, but they’re all seriously quick cars that will eat a GS for lunch. So yeah, they’re more money, but someone who can really afford something like this will probably pony up for something that is more fun to drive.

            I suspect that most people who came into the Lexus place looking for a GS came out with an ES – unless you’re an enthusiast, I’d say the ES does about 90% of what the GS does, and costs a lot less; besides, an enthusiast probably wasn’t looking for a GS in the first place.

          • 0 avatar

            I agree with you completely with regard to the customer base. People who go to the dealer for a Lexus are not looking for engagement. they generally can’t tell the difference between front and rear drive, and the additional thirst and expense of the GS does not make sense.

            The fourth generation is also less engaging to drive than the second generation. The second gen really had sharp steering and was a bit more firm.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            It seems Lexus tried to move the ES upmarket somewhat, as a GS replacement. A neighbor of mine bought a brand new ’20 ES a few months ago, and it just seems huge.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            @FreedMike

            Not based on price.

            Lexus kept the ES at a price segment below its direct FWD competition (Continental, XTS, RLX, S90) b/c they knew they would lose significant volume if they priced the ES too high.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Too bad. The GS was one of my favorites midsize luxury sedans. Can’t afford a new one though.

    • 0 avatar

      Depreciation is your friend. Of course you have to also deal with the (not good) 16+ styling of you want a newish one.

      They didn’t really do anything to the interior post 2013.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        Yes Corey, last year I found a very clean 2016 with only 29,000 miles. It had the beautiful two tone red/black leather inside. It was a certified vehicle at a local Lexus dealership. They were asking $31,000 ( no negotiation dealership) but it was the 4 cylinder turbo. It had the sport package and the car was in mint condition as shown in the photos. I would like the creamy port/direct injection V6 better but the 4 isn’t a deal breaker. The issue is I am not really in need of another vehicle and I hesitated. It was gone in 3 days.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Agreed, the GS is a GREAT deal used, and as long as you are more into cruising than hooning, it’s a very, very good long-term buy.

  • avatar
    canam23

    I love my 2014 GS 350. I drive 40K miles a year, and it is the perfect balance of comfort, sport and reliability. Not only are the mechanicals made to last, but at over 120K miles the interior still looks showroom new.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Canam23

      I love my 2016 Buick Regal GS. After 87,000 miles taking on the worst weather, traffic and road conditions Chicago has to offer, the car has been mechanically perfect. Give the car a good cleaning and my interior would look showroom new too,
      Parked next to each other and the Buick looks like a more premium automobile. Even though it costs about $20,000 less.

      Enjoy your over priced Camry. Make sure to maintain enough social distancing where you can’t hear us laughing at you.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        that’s a weird take considering you have an Opel Insignia w/ a Buick badge

        and Opels are something even Europeans don’t want

        at least the Lexus will have resale value, your “Buick” Opel, not really

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I don’t have anything against the Regal, but canam23’s initial comment doesn’t mention anything about Buick so I don’t get why Peter needed to white knight his car and slam the Lexus.

          The GS is also not a “Camry” any more than the Charger was an Avenger.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          thornmark

          You got nothing. I knew GM sold the car under Buick, Opel & Vauxhall brands when I bought the car.
          Resale value in a market where no one is buying cars. Good luck with that.
          Oh, and Vauxhall/Opel always outsold Toyota/Lexus in Europe when GM owned the brands, and at a higher average transaction price.

      • 0 avatar

        “Enjoy your over priced Camry.”

        Peter, comments like this make you look really foolish. The rear-drive GS is not related to the front-drive Camry. It also has a different engine.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        Hahaha Peter. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt with you. From Buick to Lexus?
        A Camry? C’mon man..the GS has a total different architecture.

      • 0 avatar
        Michael S6

        While the Lexus ES is based on Toyota Camry, the Lexus GS is based on a rear wheel drive platform designed to compete against the A6, BMW 5 series or Mercedes E series. The Buick GS is based on front wheel drive chassis more in common with a Camry. Parked next to each other in a used car dealership, I can guarantee that the Lexus will sell for a lot more.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          Michael S6

          Parked next to each other at the Gas pump where both drivers get a good look at each other’s cars. The guy in the Lexus drives away p’ssed off.

          • 0 avatar

            Given the Regal was the *most returned car* by owners after a single year, the gas station scenario above seems unlikely.

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            5 years ago.

          • 0 avatar

            Which is about how old the Regal in question is.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            Corey Lewis

            I’ve seen the gas station scenario, and other similar scenarios play out on the road & in parking lots. (Could be because act like I’m completely ignoring them and their car)
            You spend over $55K on a car you probably want to get people’s attention. I bought a $35K sleeper to avoid attention of Police. Seems to have worked. I have only gotten 1 speeding ticket in that time.
            Typical TTAC erroneous fact about Regal trade ins. That generation of Regal was on the market for 6 years, and most of those years the Mercedes C class was the most traded in car. 2015 Buick trade ins probably had more to do with a 2014 average age of vehicle buyer study by IHS Automotive. Lexus, Volvo & Buick buyers were older. But thanks to the Encore and the discontinuation of the Lacrosse Buick buyers are now younger.
            While Lexus IS still the old farts brand.

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            Comments like these are out of place at TTAC. Not sure what causes someone to go off the deep end like this with zero provocation.

            I leased a 2016 Regal GS. I liked it a lot and thought it compared well to the other luxury cars it competed against and even many which were looked at as superior.
            Once the lease was over, I got a Lexus. I’m much more likely to buy out the Lexus at the end of the lease than I was the Buick.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            Corey Lewis
            “How old the Regal is”
            The 5th Generation Regal & 4th Generation Lexus GS both hit the market in 2011. Difference is Buick brought out the a 6th Generation Regal 6 years later. 4th Generation Lexus GS is just now being discontinued.

      • 0 avatar
        canam23

        Wow Peter Gazis! A little ignorance goes a long way! As others have mentioned, there is no relationship between the Lexus GS and a Camry. Also, I bought my GS cerified used for 5 grand less than you paid for your Buick and when mine hits the 200K mark and still has resale value, your Buick will have been rusting away in the scrap yard for quite a while.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          Canam23

          At the rate I’m going, I’ll have 200,000 miles on the car in 5 more years. It’s kept in a garage most of the time, so I highly doubt there will be any rust.
          Looks like your going to hit 200,000 in 2 years. Considering people are buying crossovers and not cars. There should be a large number of cars available for sale: all makes; all models; low miles; high miles; all conditions. Good luck finding someone who would give you 2 cents for that thing.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Best GS was the First GS. The early Lexuses (LS, SC and the GS) were a high water mark for the modern automobile.

  • avatar
    Mr. Monte

    Sorry to see it go, has always been my favorite Lexus sedan since the 2nd gen. This current gen F-Sport is a nice fun drive, especially in Sport + mode! Drives much better and better composed than the LS F-Sport and ES F-Sport, gonna miss ya!

  • avatar
    sckid213

    The “Something Wicked” campaign wasn’t just print ads. I remember the TV ads vividly. Probably Lexus’ best TV ads.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Akio had to be talked out of canceling the GS the last time around, but it appears his instincts were correct.

    Major reason for the demise of the GS aside from drastically declining US sales is that it never really sold well in Japan (not when it had to compete w/ the Toyota Crown series).

    If you’re going to compete in the midsize sport sedan segment, need to continually update the powertrains and not let them get stagnant.

  • avatar
    werewolf

    I own a 4th gen GS350 and owned a 2nd gen GS400. The attraction of the GS is that it was the sporty sedan option in the Lexus family. The appeal is not the fastest car in the class but the one that lasts the longest with enough grunt to have fun every now and then. RWD is also a big selling point for me

    I buy used and own for a long time time which makes the German options painful as electronics, sensors failure and the upkeep costs grow.

    When I see 5-series and E-classes at the pump, it’s pity not envy I feel – having owned both those cars before and spending too much quality time with my mechanic and trying to fix it myself plus the depreciation hits. I don’t get tax benefits from leasing nor do I enjoy constant monthly payments.

    To me a depreciated Lexus is a sweet spot as 60k sedans have most of the bells/whistles and safety features. This class of vehicle is increasingly electronic with better engines and less road feel.

    I don’t believe a car should be designed and manufactured to be semi-disposable. If I were to buy German, it would be a Panamera (older due to price points) rather than a BMW or a Merc due to the engineering philosophy.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Sad to lose choice for midsize rwd. As noted, Toyota gave up with this car a long time ago. I think when they dropped the v8. Even if the v8s are a small percentage of sales, back when this car still had a chance a V8 option was required to be taken seriously.

    This GS also had the misfortune of competing with the w212 E class, which also focused on comfort and was one of the best cars Mercedes had built in a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      This version had a V8 option.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Only if you went all the way up to the GS-F. It needed a V8 without everything else that comes with the F.

        I’m also disappointed that Mercedes makes you get an amg to get a V8 on the w213, but that stands out less in the world of the 2.0T.

        Toyota was ahead of the times in pulling the v8 from the volume trims. I think too soon.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • thegamper: Looks really good. Sufficiently different to announce its electrified powertrain which seems to be what...
  • PrincipalDan: Do you know the Lyriq? Nah but if you hum the tune I can fake it.
  • Lie2me: I actually like the way it looks, but whether anyone will want one, we’ll see
  • N8iveVA: New e-tron starts at $67k. Model X starts at $80k, Model X performance model is $100k. yikes
  • EBFlex: TTAC is probably right. The Mustang isn’t profitable yet they still make that. Or maybe only at Ford they can...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber