2015 Lexus GS 350 Review By John Heilig
By John Heilig
The Auto Channel
AUTO PAGE SPECS
MODEL: 2015 Lexus GS350
ENGINE: 3.5-liter V6
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 306 hp @ 6,400 rpm/277 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
WHEELBASE: 112.2 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 190.7 x 72.4 x 57.9 in.
CARGO: 14.1 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/20.5 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 17.4 gal.
CURB WEIGHT 3,891 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus
STICKER: $54,565 (includes $925 delivery, $2,790 options)
BOTTOM LINE: The Lexus GS350 gives the appearance of being a smaller version of the flagship LS. The GS has all the amenities, with the possible exception of power.
Back in the day (here goes the old man reminiscing again), there were only two Lexus models, the entry level ES and the top-of-the-line LS. Well, of course, times have changes, and Lexus offers a full complement of vehicles, not including trucks and minivans.
The GS is a good companion to the LS, if slightly smaller. For example, the LS rides on a 122-inch wheelbase and is 205 inches in overall length, compared to 112 and 191, respectively, for the GS. And while the LS now sports a 4.6-liter V8, the GS must make do with a 3.5-liter V6. But other than these differences, the two cars share the almost completely silent drive experience with the almost equal ride quality. So you pays your money and you makes your choice.
Needless to say, the 3.5-liter V6 in the GS 350 has plenty of power at 306 horsepower. This improves to 311 in the 2016 model. My only complaint with the engine was that it complained a bit when it was provoked harshly, but otherwise it was essentially silent.
We took the GS350 on a couple of interesting rides that involved Interstates and some nice farmland roads, as well as a few stretches of winging roads. The ride was comfortable all the way and handling was very good at sane speeds. Even at more than sane speeds the brakes brought us back to sanity quickly so that we could negotiate unforeseen twists and turns.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth, and “playing” with the paddle shifters proved to be fun.
The heated and cooled front seats are very comfortable with very good side support for a sedan. While not Recaro quality, which are really only necessary for sports cars, the front seats ensconced your body well. The tan leather color on all the seats went well with the largely black interior with dark wood trim. Rear seats offer very good leg and knee room. In addition, the rear seats offer some side support, about what you’d get in competitive vehicles’ front seats. The wide fold-down arm rest is also an asset. And since the center hump is quite tall, there will probably only be two passengers back there most of the time anyway.
I liked the clear instrument panel with two large white-on-black dials for the tachometer and speedometer. There is an information panel in between the two dials.
In the center of the dash is a large screen that tends to dominate. It is controlled with a “mouse” located on the center console with a nice wrist support. There is a learning curve with the screen and mouse, especially with regard to going through the detents, but once you get the hang of it, it’s perfect.
The navigation system is easy to program using the mouse. We used it both for addresses and Point of Interest and it was spot on, including estimated time of arrival. In addition, there were traffic and weather warnings along the way.
In the center of the dash is a nice analog clock. We are so accustomed to looking for digital clocks (and in the case of the GS, not finding one) that we almost overlooked it.
A pair of cupholders is located at the base of the center stack, and the sliding arm rest between the two front seats covers a console with a USB and UX connection as well as a 12-volt plug.
Parking is a snap with a clear rear view camera. In addition, the driver’s outside mirror tilts down. I would have liked the passenger mirror to tilt as well, but you can live with that minor omission.
Overall, the GS350 is a very comfortable car to drive and ride in. It’s about as close to an LS as you can get. The GS gives the feel of a larger car without the inconvenience of size when you’re parking or maneuvering.
© 2015 The Auto Page Syndicate
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