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First Date Preview: 2013 Lexus GS 350/450h Sedans

2013 Lexus GS 350 (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Lexus GS 350

Lexus Buyers Guide - 1997-2013 Specs Comparisons and Prices


by Marty Bernstein
Senior Editor-At-Large
The Auto Channel

1993 GS 300 (select to view enlarged photo)

Twenty-two years ago when the first Lexus was introduced to American buyers the luxury car market was changed forever. Yes, forever. Lexus set the gold standard for customer service in every dealer’s store. There were no exceptions. No deviations from commitment. .

It was the Lexus way that captured the hearts and minds of thousands of luxury car buyers who had been stuck in the muck and mire of dealers selling BMW, Cadillac, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. It was fact not fable.

And while Lexus styling has never been trend setting or cutting edge it set another automotive gold standard, this one for quality, comfort and refinement. Result? Lexus has been the leader in the very competitive luxury automobile business for almost all of its twenty-two years.

A crown it intends to keep despite the disastrous tsunami and earthquake in Japan which resulted in a major loss of production.

In Las Vegas, the city known for gambling, Lexus has run the table, beaten the house, doubled down and has a winning new sedan with the 2013 Lexus GS sedan in all four of its iterations. I was one of few auto journalists in America invited to preview and have a first drive of the newest Lexus’ that are due in dealer showrooms next February. Here’s a quick overview.

2013 Lexus GS 350 (select to view enlarged photo)

Last year Lexus introduced a very limited production supercar known as the LFA. Think of it as among the fastest you’ve ever want to go in automobile fast … but this is not a racecar it is a sport sedan that has all the styling hallmarks that signal agile, quick, responsive, nimble and fast. Both the GS 350 and GS 450h (h as in hybrid) employ many of the design, styling and engineering elements that came from the LFA which bodes well for Lexus lovers and owners.

2013 Lexus GS 350 (select to view enlarged photo)

The result is the boldest, badest and best designed Lexus ever. And they did it without going way-out to the extreme just to be different and noticed. It is distinctive rather than the serious and somber designs of previous Lexus sedans. From every view – front and the new spindle grill have a snarly look, to sleek sides and an impressive rear end – the new GS says swift, sophisticated and special.


2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport (select to view enlarged photo)

Lexus engineers again used the knowledge and experience gained in the LFA to create the GS’s. Strength and agility was the goal and it was gained by increasing the number of spot welds and adding laser welds in very specific locations for a more rigid platform. The width was increased by almost two inches and works in combination with a revised suspension design to help ensure a more solid stance and superior cornering performance. Overall, the suspension is lighter and stronger, allowing it to react to driver input readily, and ride quietly without harshness. Braking balance and control has been achieved with improved brakes with the latest electronic enhancements.

Power Plant & Transmission
The 2013 rear wheel drive GS is more powerful and gets better mileage too than its processor. Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 generating 306 horsepower engine and 277 lbs of torque that will power the new sedan from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Its EPA-estimated ratings of 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined are reasonable. The exhaust produces a sound that is certain to please sportscar fans with its resonance.

There’s a silky smooth six-speed sequential shift automatic transmission comes with paddle shifters and a drive mode selector which results in an enhanced driving experience by selecting one of the four modes

Interior and Infotainment

2013 Lexus GS 350 (select to view enlarged photo)

The interior of GS models are the epitome of sophisticated quality and comfort combining color, materials and design into one the best spaces in a vehicle today. It’s a space interior decorators will admire. Germanic hauteur has been replaced with unpretentious elegance defined by quality materials, colors, attention to detail and creature comforts.

Not-so-subtle changes from previous models have enhanced the driving and passenger experience through improved seating, better sight lines, easier getting-in and getting-out has been made easier and more demure and there’s good leg room in both front and rear seats.

2013 Lexus GS 450h (select to view enlarged photo)

A next-generation Remote Touch with one-push confirmation is standard on all models and enables smooth, intuitive operations control allows the user to operate the climate, audio, phone controls, optional navigation system and more.. A standard rear back-up camera helps add security and convenience in backing-up or parking. There’s cool ambient lighting too. The GS 450h exclusively uses distinctive bamboo wood trim which is spectacular! I nominate it for “best use of wood in a new car interior” award. And naturally there’s a long list of options, including a terrific audio system from Mark Levinson, to choose for even more automotive personalization.

The GS Model line-up and driving
The GS 350 sedan comes in three flavors: regular – which is very nice; luxury – which is very, very, very nice; and sport – which is very sporty, fast and agile. There is also the Lexus GS45h hybrid which outstanding. There’s a huge array of colors and interior trims to compliment and please.

During the Las Vegas event, along with other auto writers, I had the opportunity to test drive all four models on a semi-city drive around the Las Vegas Speedway and on special layouts designed to test our driving skills and push the vehicles to their top performance. All passed with flying colors, but soon I’ll be driving them in a real world traffic situations and environments. Stay tuned.