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2013 Lexus GS 350 Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Lexus, Test Drives

The all-new 2013 Lexus GS 350 sets forth a new design language for Lexus adding more sports-appeal, advanced technology and a refined ride quality for their midsized luxury sports sedan. Receiving a redesign for the 2013 model year, the Lexus GS 350 edges towards a better competitive stance against its German rivals but retains the expected quality aspects of Lexus’ traditionalist luxury path.

First driving impressions from the new 2013 Lexus GS 350 you walk away knowing it is a vehicle that is much more in-tuned to the road than its predecessor. Additionally, the sporty exterior styling of the GS 350 blends well with its new luxury-sports demeanor communicated through Lexus’ new L finesse design philosophy.

Jumping into the new GS 350, I first took notice to the fit and finish quality known to garnish the Lexus brand. Only this time it was highlighted with a surprising edge on new technology and amenity offerings. The new Lexus GS 350 is the sportiest Lexus has ever been, sans the performance oriented ISF and exotic LFA. Having the language of the Lexus LFA supercar filter down to vehicles like the GS 350 makes for a more appealing vehicle to enthusiasts, even if the new GS is still does not have a sporty edge like comparably equipped BMW 5 series vehicles.

The all-new Lexus GS 350 retains some of the outgoing model’s drivetrain attributes. Most notable, is the 3.5-liter V6 engine carried over from last year. There really was nothing wrong with the 3.5-liter powermill as it produces a silky smooth 306 horsepower and 277 ft-lbs. of torque. The only transmission choice, a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic, is great for every-day driving. However, the tranny tends to lack any sporty characteristics aside from the manual shift paddles.

The new Lexus GS gets Toyota’s Drive Mode Select dial w/ Eco-Normal-Sport modes. In Sport S+ mode, the GS is more apt to down-shift earlier but fails to provide any drastic advancements in making up-shifts any better from normal mode. In Eco mode, the GS is somewhat subdued with a lazy gas pedal and transmission mapping to keep the RPMs low for conserving fuel. Corresponding to the Eco-Normal-Sport+-Sport S+ modes, is the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) on properly equipped Lexus GS models. My new 2013 GS 350 included the AVS setup as part of the Luxury package with additional options. With the AVS system, the dampers automatically adjust to a firmer setting when the vehicle is put in Sport +S mode.

The driving and handling dynamics of the new 2013 GS 350 are much livelier than its predecessor. However, the suspension is still relatively soft, even in sport +S mode activating a stiffer setting for the dampers. Much of the new Lexus GS 350’s ride quality sways towards a touring sedan rather than a hard-core sports sedan. Possibly, the Lexus GS 350 F-Sport address this faux pas and adds a bit more aggressiveness to the ride and handling characteristics.

Power delivery comes on smooth and the transmission does not leave too much wrapped up in a guessing game when the appropriate gear needs to be selected. Sound entering into the cabin from the V6 engine is kept to a minimum but does not completely isolate the driver from audibly hearing what is going on under the aluminum hood.

The steering feel is pretty solid in Sport +S mode, where the wheel gets a bit more weighted but still tends to lack much road feedback. Although, steering feel has been improved over the outgoing model departing from such a drastic artificial feel. Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS), a stand-alone option for the 2013 GS, steers the rear wheels with the front up to 1.5 degrees for better handling at speeds above 50 mph. Below 50 mph, DRS steers the rear wheels (up to 1.5 degrees) against the front for reduced turning radius.

The luxurious cabin of the new 2013 Lexus GS 350 receives a sports appeal yet nicely integrates finely crafted wood and aluminum trim pieces and accenting leather appointments. Part of a luxury package on my 2013 GS 350 test vehicle, are 18-way power heated and ventilated front seats. The seats are very supportive with adjustable bolsters and memory seat settings for both driver and front passenger. The rear seating area is bigger, too.

During my time with the new GS 350 I had the opportunity to pile in 4 more adults who were able to utilize the 3 additional inches of hip room in the rear compared to the older GS.  Other dimensions expanded on the new 2013 Lexus GS, thanks to a revised rear suspension design, is the trunk with a total of 14.3 cubic feet. The driver and front passenger areas get slightly more head and shoulder room.

To conclude the complete redesign of the new 2013 Lexus GS interior is Lexus’ Remote Touch multimedia controller, which works much like a combination of a computer mouse and a force-feedback joystick. The second-generation controller works well for navigating menus limiting any hunting for physical buttons on the dashboard or on-screen functions. Speaking of a screen, the new GS gets a lot of it, a whole foot long. While this is no 5-dollar footling, the high-resolution 12-inch wide-LCD-screen comes as part of a $5,750 Luxury package. An 8-inch high-res LCD display is standard. Combining the Lexus Enform system, including integrated connectivity for local gas prices, stock market info, weather and GPS navigation, the new infotainment system is quite user-friendly after you get used to the Remote Touch controller. The Remote Touch controller combines accurate scrolling with tactile-force-feedback when scrolling over on-screen menu buttons or click-areas. In all, the system is no worse than any other infotainment system offered on current market luxury vehicles. One could even conclude that the Lexus Remote Touch system is comparable to BMW’s iDrive in some aspects despite using a completely different form of input controls.

The new 2013 Lexus GS is offered in a few different trims including our rear-wheel-drive GS 350 Luxury package test vehicle with 18-inch wheels (17-inch wheels standard) 3-zome climate control, an optional crisp sounding 17-speaker 835-watt Mark Levinson audio system, park assist (audible and visual sonar parking sensor system) and power rear sunshade including side-rear window manual shades. The Lexus GS 350 F Sport package adds larger 19-inch wheels, larger front brakes, special steering and suspension tuning, unique sports exterior styling accents and a 16-way power sport driver’s seat. The GS 350 can also be had in an all-wheel-drive configuration. The Lexus GS 450h hybrid is another offering combining many of the Luxury package’s appointments as well as the highly efficient 3.5-liter V6 engine working in sync with electric motors to yield 338 horsepower and estimating 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. As a comparison, my 2013 GS 350 gets a respectable 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

0-60 mph times for the rear-wheel-drive Lexus GS 350 come in at a quick 5.8 seconds. The GS 450h hybrid has the 350 slightly beat with a 0-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds.

Pricing for the all-new 2013 Lexus GS 350 starts at $46,900. My nicely-equipped GS 350 test vehicle has an as-tested price of $57,309 including 875 handling and destination fee.

I can walk away saying that the new 2013 Lexus GS 350 appeals to a much broader audience than it ever did. Now enthusiasts shopping the likings of German rivals will have an extra stop to make at the local Lexus dealership because the new GS is something that you do not want to willingly pass up.

Copyright: 2012


  • Price: Base GS 350 $46,900 As-Tested $57,309
  • Engine: 3.5-liter 306 horsepower @ 6400 rpm/ 277 ft-lbs torque @ 4800 rpm
  • Drive: RWD (optional AWD)
  • Wheelbase: 112.2in.
  • Total length: 190.7in.
  • Total width: 72.4in.
  • Total height: 57.3in.
  • Track: f/r-62.0/62.6in.
  • Turning circle: 36.8ft.
  • Headroom: f/r-38.0/37.8in.
  • Legroom: f/r-42.3/36.8in.
  • MPG est.: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway
  • Fuel tank: 17.4 gallons
  • 0-60mph:  5.8 seconds
  • EPA cargo volume: 14.3cu.ft.
  • Curb weight: 3,795 lbs.

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