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Car Review: HEELS ON WHEELS: 2017 LEXUS GS 350 REVIEW


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

-- 5 Star Rating by The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE GS 350 VEHICLE
Lexus has used precision to grow the GS 350, a mid-to-larger sized sedan that seems to receive the right additions and key improvements with each model year. Such careful parenting helps anyone (or anything in this case) to better prepare for today’s competitive market – and that makes the GS 350 staged for success.

I drove a 2017 Lexus GS 350 with the 3.5-liter V6 engine with 311 horsepower mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. While a base model to a top-of-the-line trim are available, variations are determined by engine (V6 or turbocharged 4-cylinder), rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, and the addition of the F-SPORT features plus other optional packages. Standard features on my GS 350 F-SPORT with all-wheel drive trim included: ten-way power front seating; genuine wood interior trim; perforated leather upholstery; heated and ventilated front seats; 12.3-inch navigation display with touchscreen and remote touch interface controller; App Suite; Bluetooth connectivity; leather-trimmed steering wheel; safety technology suite; Lexus Enform Safety Connect; eighteen-inch alloy wheels; the F-SPORT Package; and a few options like an upgraded audio system, Intuitive Park Assist, and four-wheel steering. Price as described came to $59,060.

For the 2017 model year, additions include standard safety technology like Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a backup monitor. Competitors include the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Infiniti Q50, but also expand into top-of-the-line versions of the Kia Cadenza and Buick LaCrosse.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Lexus GS 350 boasts a logical layout for a sedan equally focused on comfort and modern convinces. Both the Remote Touch and screen graphics have been revised over the years for easier navigation, but I prefer swipes and taps to a screen instead of working a mouse-like controlled in the divider console. It’s refreshing that the navigation system is built into the price of the model and not an extra, as well as the safety tech. The F-SPORT adds a power ear sunshade; darker alloy wheels; Adaptive Variable Suspension; a 16-way power driver’s seat; Variable Gear Ratio Steering; Naguri aluminum trim; and a unique grille, spoiler, valance and of course S-SPORT badging. While it’s a generous dose of performance and style-focused features, there are other packages to consider with your GS 350 model that narrow in on luxury or conveniences more. For example, options on my model also included a $1,380 Mark Levinson 17-speaker audio system.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2017 Lexus GS 350 ratings of “Good’ in moderate overlap front, side, and roof strength crash-test areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the vehicle. Standard safety equipment includes a complex airbag system, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, Vehicle Stability Control, Brake Assist, Traction Control, and more recently, the addition of such safety technology as Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a backup monitor.

Cost Issues: The Lexus GS 350 offers a wide range of prices: $46,310 for the Turbo 4-cylinder model; $50,365 for the base V6 with all-wheel drive; and $59,060 for my F-SPORT with options. Kia makes an honest attempt to give as much convenience and luxury as possible for their Cadenza sedan with a loaded Limited at $44,390.

Activity & Performance Ability: The power of the V6 has grown a touch over the model years (306 to 311 horsepower in my test-drive experiences) and the six-speed evolving into an eight-speed transmission. While certainly not something entirely unique to the mid-size sedan market, the GS 350 steadily proved itself it could to handle the corners sharper, accelerate with concentrated zest, and shift with more finesse.

The Green Concern: The 2017 Lexus GS 350 with all-wheel drive gets 19-city and 27-highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon – typical numbers for performance-oriented sedans with a V6.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
If you seek careful consideration to every nut, bolt, and luxury convenience given in a sedan, the 2017 Lexus GS 350 is a refreshing alternative to the more expensive European brands – however, when shopping, don’t ignore what supposed ‘inferior’ competitors like the Kia Cadenza can deliver.

©2017 Katrina Ramser

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