Photo by Vince Taroc.
When it comes to four-door sedans from Lexus, drivers have four series to choose from: IS, GS, ES, and top-of-the-line LS. The GS models slot between the IS and ES in terms of size and price, with a myriad of variations within the GS range. GS competitors in the segment include the Cadillac CTS, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E Class, and BMW 5-Series.
For the 2016 model year Lexus added one more variation to the GS lineup, the entry-level GS 200t, a rear-wheel drive (only) model that slots underneath the 350 and 450h (hybrid). The Lexus GS is first and foremost a midsize luxury sedan, though adding the F Sport package to any of the three models ups the performance a notch.
The GS 200t runs on a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, good for 241 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. With the turbo four the GS 200t isn’t particularly fast, hitting 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, though that’s probably a good thing in any fleet application. Those seeking the adrenaline of the V-6 engine and its 311 hp will have to step up to the GS 350.
The EPA has not yet rated the GS 200t for fuel economy, though Toyota is publishing 22 mpg city and 33 hwy (26 combined) for the GS 200t and 20/30/24 with the F Sport package. In our F Sport tester we averaged 21.7 mpg in mostly city driving, though we primarily stayed in “Eco” drive mode.
Photo by Vince Taroc.
Fleet users may consider the GS 200t as a mid-level executive driver or a reward vehicle for top sales performers for a few reasons: The base price of $45,615 MSRP compares favorably with others in the segment; the interior styling feels more upmarket than its class while delivering fleet-worthy front and rear legroom room and a large trunk. The exterior claims “sport” more than its competitors — indeed, Lexus’ signature spindle grille is an acquired taste — yet around back, the GS styling fits in with Toyota’s traditionally more staid cues.
We enjoyed the F Sport upgrades, including the “Naguri aluminum” trim and the Adaptive Variable Suspension, which makes it wicked fun to corner. Of course, the F Sport package would be a non-starter for fleets, adding $7,670 to the sticker for mostly style enhancements.
Fleets should consider, however, the Lexus Safety System + driver package, new for 2016. The package includes a suite of the latest driver assist technologies and alerts such as lane departure, steering assist, pre-collision, pedestrian detection, intelligent high beams, and radar-based cruise control. It listed for $1,795 on our Monroney window sticker, which feels like a value for what you get.
Overall, the Lexus GS 200t exudes “race enthusiast” rather than conservative executive vehicle, and achieves this on a budget — making it a counterpoint choice for fleets compared to others in its class.