2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport AWD Review By Dan Poler
By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel
Lexus has long built cars known for their luxury and comfort; adjectives like aggressive and athletic were not typically used to describe them. Enter the new GS 350. Completely redesigned for 2013, the new GS is built clearly with the intention of taking on its German rivals.
The 2013 GS is just a touch wider and taller than the outgoing model, but the chassis has been stiffened and the steering greatly improved. Also along for the ride are all of Lexus’ recent interior and electronics upgrades. The all-new sheetmetal and styling bring an aggressive, sporty appearance, particularly to the front end.
Our GS 350 came in the F Sport AWD trim – this sport trim doesn’t change engine or transmission, but upgrades the GS with a host of driver-oriented features including an adaptive variable suspension, a sport driver’s seat with power-adjustable side and leg bolsters, sport styling at the front and rear of the vehicle, and upgraded 19-inch wheels and tires.
The cabin is spacious, seating four comfortably and appointed in soft leather. Courtesy of the F Sport package, the driver’s seat is enormously adjustable, providing for power adjustable bolsters, leg support, lumbar support, and so forth. Driving controls are straightforward. The combined navigation / climate / entertainment setup leaves a bit to be desired; the split-screen setup is great – permitting, for example, climate and navigation controls to be on the screen at the same time – but we found that the system’s graphics felt somewhat cluttered, and the joystick-operated system, while fairly intuitive to use, required a lot of clicks to perform relatively simple operations like changing radio stations. Fortunately there are separate controls for commonly used functions like climate control.
The 3.5 liter V6 and 6-speed transmission carry over from the prior GS with only very minor changes in the name of fuel economy. Despite the various performance enhancements, driving the GS is still a reasonably sedate affair – the transmission is slow to settle in gear, and there isn’t the instant throttle response you might expect. Even selecting Sport or Sport Plus modes doesn’t instantly change the character of the vehicle as it does in some sport sedans – the changes brought on are subtle, most noticeable at high speed and especially so in the tuning of the variable suspension. Not in any way to say that the GS isn’t a joy to drive – the stability control is not overly intrusive, tires and suspension are grippy and keep the car feeling exceptionally well-balanced, and the all-wheel drive gives the driver a great sense of control of the car.
Fuel economy during our time with the car averaged 22 mpg combined. Of course the GS wouldn’t be a Lexus without a host of safety features, including ABS, stability control, a number of airbags including front knee and side curtain, active head restraints for front passengers, and a rearview camera. As a nice touch, Lexus provides Safety Connect, a telematics service with collision notification, vehicle location, and emergency assistance, as a standard feature.
Is the GS the sport sedan for you? Based on its Lexus heritage, the tradition of sedate refinement continues, but this is one Lexus that can be opened up and pushed for quite a good deal of fun. The Germans should be on notice.
2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport AWD Base Price: $49,450.00 Price as Tested: $58,997.00 Engine Type: V6 with direct injection and port fuel injection Engine Size: 3.5 liter Horsepower: 306 Torque (lb-ft): 277 Transmission: 6-Speed sequential shift electronically controlled transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) and paddle shifters / drive mode select Wheelbase / Length (in): 112.2 / 190.7 Curb Weight: 3,795 lbs Pounds per HP: 12.4 Fuel Capacity (gal): 17.4 Fuel Requirement: Premium Unleaded Tires: Bridgestone Turanza EL400; 235/40VR19 Brakes: Ventilated disc Suspension, front/rear: Double wishbone / Multi-link Ground clearance (in): 5.7 Drivetrain: All-wheel drive with active torque control EPA Fuel Economy - MPG city / highway / observed: 19 / 26 / 22
Options and Charges
Sport Package with Cold Weather Package: $5,695.00 (Rain sensing wipers, heated and ventilated front seats, power rear sunshade, 19-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels with dark graphite finish and all-season tires, F Sport tuned adaptive variable suspension, F sport adjustable driver’s seat with power side bolsters, aluminum interior trim, F Sport front bumper, upper & lower grille insert, rear valance & rear lip spoiler, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper deicer, water repellent front door glass, high-intensity interior heater)
HDD navigation with 12.3” high-resolution split screen multimedia display: $1,735.00
Intuitive Park Assist: $500.00
Trunk Mat, Cargo Net, and Wheel Locks: $242.00
Price as tested: $58,997.00