New Car Review: 2013 Lexus GS By Marty Bernstein
2013 Lexus GS 350
LEXUS LOOKS FORWARD
WITH GREAT NEW RIDE
by Marty Bernstein
The Auto Channel
Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota had a terrible 2011.
Japan’s disastrous earthquake, resultant tsunami, then a nuclear
meltdown, followed by floods in Thailand that crippled production and sales
of America’s reining best selling luxury brand for months. The
luxury competitors, BMW and Mercedes, turned Lexus’ adversity to
their advantage and now BMW is the number one luxury selling vehicle.
But don’t count Lexus out. The factory and supply problems
have been solved. They’re back, at the top of their game and very
aggressive. A terrific new vehicle, the 2013 GS 350 was just introduced
but this more than a new model. This is the beginning of a new Lexus that
may again change the luxury car business to the chagrin its competitors.
Two decades ago when the first Lexus automobile was introduced to
American buyers, the luxury car market changed forever. Detroit’s
luxury vehicle leaders of that time -- Cadillac and Lincoln – were
bloated barges of dubious quality that floated down the highways. Most of
their dealerships were haughty, disdainful and patronizing. BMW and
Mercedes were perceived as more Euro-niche than luxury with limited
distribution and not yet juggernauts.
Lexus’ objective was to establish a new hallmark in automotive
luxury. Their vehicles, while not cutting edge, were smartly styled with
unequaled, unparalleled and exceptional manufacturing quality, comfort and
refinement. Obsessive customer service at every dealer was the rule, not
the exception. This dedication changed consumer perceptions of luxury cars
expectations and in the process created legions of satisfied fans. Result?
While other luxury brands played catch-up Lexus became the luxury car
leader for all the second half of its two decade history.
Lexus’ new 2013 GS 350 sports sedan will lead the parade.
It’s a significant departure from what most think of as a Lexus;
serene, soothing, sedate, but never sporty. Fuhgedaboutit. This is sporty,
cutting edge styling that sets a new direction for all future Lexus
vehicles. The new GS 350 is a real sports sedan with all the aggressive
styling that signals agile, quick, responsive, nimble and sporty from every
The very nice base model GS 350 sedan can be upgraded to premium and
sumptuous luxury versions. There’s an F-Sport package option turns
the GS into a stealth racecar. Later this year there will be a hybrid, the
Lexus GS450h. Rear wheel drive is standard but there’s an AWD option
too. Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 engine generating 306 horsepower
engine and 277 lbs of torque that does 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds.
EPA-estimated ratings of 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway are reasonable. The
new exhaust produces a sound that is certain to resonate with sportscar
fans. There’s a silky smooth six-speed automatic transmission with
paddle shifters and a drive mode selector to change settings Eco, Normal,
Sport and a SportS+ option.
The media preview and test drive was staged at the Las Vegas Motor
Speedway on special courses. This alone signifies a new approach for the
brand known for its serene gentility not the glamour, glitz and glitter of
The Strip. What I learned in Las Vegas is not going to stay in Vegas. Two
challenging layouts tested and pushed both drivers and vehicles to
authenticate the new GS handling, responsiveness and performance
characteristics while demonstrating its new sporty driving bona fides.
Checkered flag for all the GS attributes, especially the scintillating
F-Sport option package.
The new Lexus GS sets a new standard in spacious luxury vehicle
interiors again by defining quality, comfort and unpretentious elegance
through its use of handsome materials, colors and attention to the smallest
detail. The seats are very comfortable and adults can sit in back seats
comfortably. Adding to the driving experience are the intuitive, easy to
use high tech infotainment system and devices. One-push of a button
operates the climate, audio, phone controls, an optional navigation system
with a gigantic 12.3’ screen and a terrific audio system from Mark
One of the best things about the new Lexus 2013 GS 350 is the price.
There’s no price increase over the previous model, it remains the
same, $46,900. In dealers now. The future of Lexus seems bright,