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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2015 LEXUS GS 350 REVIEW


PHOTO
2015 Lexus GS 350

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

INTRO TO THE GS 350 VEHICLE
Technically innovative from tail to nose, the mid-size GS 350 sedan proves you don’t need European roots to offer the finer things in life. Armed for a new generation of drivers, you’ll find lots to love on the technology front, such as the revised multimedia system with a 12.3-inch split-touchscreen.

I drove a 2015 Lexus GS 350 with the 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, with F Sport features, or as the 450h hybrid model (all with optional packages), standard features on my GS 350 rear-wheel drive trim included: ten-way power front seating; walnut interior trim; perforated leather upholstery; moonroof; leather-trimmed steering wheel; dual-zone climate control; twelve-speaker premium audio system; HD Radio; Bluetooth; XM Radio; backup camera; push-button start; and seventeen-inch wheels. Price as described is $48,600.

Having undergone a complete redesign two model years ago, the GS 350 focuses on conveniences for 2015. Main competitors are Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Buick Regal GS and Infiniti Q50 – and some surprising ones too, like the Kia K900 and Hyundai Equus.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The GS 350 pairs exquisite materials with a logical layout for a sedan equally focused on comfort and modern convinces. Although Lexus has worked on the Remote Touch mouse-like controller, the screen icon remains sticky and difficult to position over desired commands – all in all, the system doesn’t provide enough quick choices and poises a time-consuming threat. Other technology includes Siri Eyes Free with enhanced voice control functionality. Options include tiered packages – my test drive featured a $4,825 F Sport Package (heated and cooled seats, bigger and better wheels, sport-tuned suspension, bolstered seats, and unique interior trim and badges). There was also a $1,380 Mark Levinson premium audio system, a $400 one-touch power trunk, a $500 Intuitive Park Assist, and $700 Blind Sport Monitor.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) considers the 2015 Lexus GS family to be a Top Safety Pick with ratings of “Good’ in all crash-test areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the vehicle. Standard safety equipment includes an advanced airbag system, vehicle stability control, ABS, brake assist, traction control, and VDIM.

Cost Issues: The base price of a Lexus GS 350 with rear-wheel drive is $48,600 as stated; my test drive with the F Sport addition and several other conveniences brought the price to $56,405. A Buick Regal GS starts at $39,270 and the Kia K900 at $54,500 with a recent test-drive of mine priced at $65,500.

Activity & Performance Ability: Forceful yet full of grace describes the power of most Lexus vehicles, with the GS 350 glorifying this rule. You’ll enjoy carving out corners and the smooth cadence exhibited on the open highway. The F sport definitely ups the handling, but you should also check out the Kia K900’s complex suspension system, allowing this larger sedan to take on those tight turns and rough roads with equal grace and precision.

The Green Concern: The GS 350 rear-wheel drive system gets 19-city and 29-highway for a combined 23 miles-per-gallon – not bad for a V6. While the Kia K900 has a gas-sucking V8 that nets just 18 combined, try the Kia Cadenza nets better results with a 293-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 engine featuring 255 pound-feet of torque, sport-tuned suspension, and a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Without a doubt, the 2015 Lexus GS 350 affirms the brand’s commitment to cutting edge technology, styling, and performance. However, when pitted against a few unlikely characters from the Hyundai-Kia family that feature just as much luxury and easier-to-use comprehensive technology, study your options carefully.

©2015 Katrina Ramser