Lexus didn’t make the new GS350 and then see how drivers and passengers fit into the sport sedan’s cabin. They took drivers and passengers and built the cabin around them. The result is a comfortable, sophisticated road machine with good looks to match.
The 2013 GS is a technological marvel as well, with cutting edge safety technology that garners the 4-door a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Much of the technology aims to keep drivers from being involved in an accident in the first place.
Powering the GS350 is a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that sends 277 lb.-ft. of twist to the 6-speed sequential shifting transmission. It’s the same engine from the 2011 model, and it’s capable of launching the car to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 5.7 seconds. Mileage is rated at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, for a combined 21 mpg.
The exterior design of the GS is sleek, and LED running lights are standard. The car is a sedan, and sedans, no matter what manufacturers come up with, are simply not coupes. Nobody has found a way to make a car’s rear doors sexy. But man, when you slip inside the new GS, you’ll have to catch your breath. Fine semi-aniline leather, real wood and contrasting stitching create a rich, tailored environment. Center stacks sometimes make a car’s interior appear somewhat smaller, but the layout in the GS is horizontal, making the interior look much wider.
The whole cabin centers on the driver and passengers, enveloping them in creature comfort, and more importantly, safety. The attention to detail even includes a change in the angle of the steering wheel, from 23 degrees to 21 degrees.
The base price of the GS350 is steep at $49,450. And it gets even steeper when you add in all the options. Our test car’s bottom line was $65,372.
But it’s the options that really make the car shine. For example, the $8,290 luxury package adds a host of features including a night vision system that uses infrared beams to increase driver visibility beyond the HID headlamps. The navigation package ($1,735) should be taken by almost every driver. It includes a 12.3-inch high-res split screen that offers a range of views for navigation and multimedia displays, including a suite of apps and weather/traffic functions.
The GS350s safety technology is amazing. There’s a pre-collision warning system, blind spot monitors, lane departure warnings, and a new eye-scanning feature that monitors the driver’s eyes at night. If the driver isn’t looking forward and a collision appears imminent, the system will sound a warning. If the driver doesn’t immediately respond, the system initiates braking. There’s also a heads up display that appears on the windshield to help the driver’s eyes stay on the road.
The rear-wheel drive GS350 is also available in AWD. In addition to the normal driving mode the GS has a selector that allows the driver to choose one of three other settings. The ECO mode revises the throttle and adjusts seat heating and climate control systems for better mileage. The Sport S mode revises the throttle and changes transmission shifting priorities to “fully exploit the capabilities of the powertrain,” according to Lexus. In the Sport S mode, the meter lighting changes to red. And in Sport S+ mode (available with F SPORT and luxury packages), changes are made to the car’s suspension, steering and dynamics.
The past year was difficult for many Japanese automakers because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. But Toyota’s luxury brand is starting the 2013 model year with a serious winner in the GS350 sport sedan.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with sequential shift
Test model base price: $49,450
As-tested price: $65,372
EPA mileage rating: 19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway