Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lexus GS 350 - First of the 13's

Photo by Victor Llana (
Some cars are OK but others come loaded with fresh styling, luxurious accommodations and plenty of high-tech features that make them especially noteworthy. Put the brand new Lexus GS 350 in that second category.

This was my first 2013 test car (wow--in April 2012). The Lexus folks don't mind saying the obvious--a lot is riding on this new model. It's their midsize luxury/performance entry against cars like the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. Amazingly, in a comparison test in the June 2012 issue of Motor Trend, it came out on top as a freshman! Remarkable.

The car looks new because it is--taking the best of the concept car styling to look impressive. The biggest eye-popper is the new look front--which uses the "spindle grille" that Lexus hopes will become as recognizable as BMW's famous twin kidneys. Not only does the air inlet pinch in the middle from the front view, but from the side, you can see some serious chin that puts Jay Leno to shame. It's pretty overt for Lexus. We'll see how folks like it, but it's the new look of the brand so you can expect more in other models.

This is a 306-horsepower car that can run the 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. It gets an EPA average of 23 miles per gallon doing it, too (I earned 21.9 mpg during the test week).

I liked that the interior features worked the first time. The Bluetooth phone hookup was a snap and the USB port grabbed my iPod exactly where I left it and played away. Everything is very easy to see because there's a huge center screen that shows the usual rectangular monitor for maps, etc. but it also has another adjacent display. So, you can see what's happening in multiple realms (maps and music for example) at a glance.

You control the display not by touching the screen (it's kind of a long reach anyway) but by a special rectangular joystick. Lean your arm naturally on the pad behind it and you can make small movements and bounce the cursor around on the screen. It becomes easier with practice, but is probably, along with vocal controls, the wave of the automotive future.

Sound was magnificent with the Mark Levinson Premium Sound Audio system with it's 17 speakers and 835 watts of power. You hate to leave the car when you get to your destination.

My car had the "F Sport" package, which added a host of exciting features, including a retuned suspension with firmer springs, an adaptive variable damping system, thicker anti-roll bars, a variable gear ratio steering system, bushing changes, and larger front brakes with high friction brake pads. There's plenty of F Sport identity inside and out to flaunt the $5,690 package, including some stunning 19-inch wheels. You can order the Lexus Dynamic Handling Package with this if you want--my tester had it. 

With all the extras on top of its $46,900 base price, my tester came in at $59,349. But what an experience.


Basil Glenn said...

Thanks for sharing this review, Steve. I must agree that this Lexus model is noteworthy. Its style is very remarkable, and the specs can compete with some of other luxury vehicles. I can say that you're one lucky guy to have it test-drive in advance.

Basil Glenn

Stelle said...

Thanks for sharing this, Steve! Usually, what makes a car look impressive is the prestige design of its grilles and fronts. And the GS 350 really rocks! I'm so impressed with its design, but its state-of-the-art technology is more.

Stelle Courney

Ashely@Infinitiofannarbor said...

Designs are very important to some, but I believe that the quality of the engine and other hidden parts has to be maintained and given more importance. There are times when the car can lose its glamorous design if the engine isn't functioning properly. For your car, make sure that you can give it regular check-ups and periodical maintenance. :)