2013 Lexus GS 350 AWDPosted in cars, Reviews on April 19th, 2012 by admin
In an effort to attract and retain younger buyers, Lexus has wisely opted for more style, more sport and more performance. The 2013 GS was the vehicle chosen by Lexus to headline the new direction of the brand. The unique styling of the 2013 GS nose is part of the new Lexus signature design – expect to see a similar look show up on every vehicle in their lineup over the next few years.
The leading and trailing end of the GS 350 AWD has unique, aggressive angles and lines, LED running lights, a rear diffuser and molded-in dual exhaust tips. It was pointed out by one observer that the design budget must have been completely consumed by the front and rear fascia redesigns because, by comparison, a direct side view of the 2013 GS 350 reveals very conservative lines.
The interior is everything we have come to expect from Lexus. It is filled with high-quality leather and wood, power everything and of course technology. It is the amount of technology and gadgets loaded into the 2013 GS that we found most interesting. Our tester came equipped with heated and cooled seats, power sunshade, satellite radio, navigation, real time traffic and everything else to be expected in a luxury sedan. It also came with standout features like night vision, four driving modes, an in-dash 12.3-inch display screen and apps like Pandora, iHeartRadio and OpenTable.
It is how those apps, navigation and audio are accessed and controlled on the giant 12.3-inch screen that left us slightly annoyed. Mounted just forward of the armrest, on the center console there is a square, leather topped joystick that is part of a system Lexus calls “Remote Touch”. The joystick controls a cursor which is used to make selections on the 12.3-inch screen. The “Remote Touch” system is better than BMW’s first generation iDrive, but not nearly as polished as we would have expected from Lexus. Most of our annoyance came from the lack of a physical “back” button built into “Remote Touch”. Without a physical “back” button, it is nearly impossible to quickly navigate throughout the various menus. Adding to our annoyance was the only way to “enter” a selection using “Remote Touch” was by pressing down on the joystick – a task that sounds simple enough, but factor a moving car into the equation and the level of difficulty increases. Once we parked the car and were able to explore the apps, maps and countless menus, we realized there is an extraordinary amount of information and options available. Thanks to a well thought-out flow of the countless menus, all of the information and options are surprisingly easy to access, even despite the shortcoming of “Remote Touch”.
Also located on the wide center console is a knob used to select which of the four driving modes the car is in. The four modes to choose from are “Normal”, “Eco”, “Sport” and “Sport S+”. “Normal” is the default mode that is reverted to each time the car is started. “Eco” yields better MPG than “Normal” but the tradeoff is slightly diminished performance. “Sport” slightly livens up throttle response while “Sport S+” increases throttle response even more, adjusts shift points, quickens shifts, stiffens the suspension and sharpens steering response. We found “Sport S+” to be our own default mode, mainly for improved steering feel and response, but regretted our mode choice every time we hit a bump in the road.
Under the hood things have not changed nearly as much as they have above it. The 2013 GS 350 keeps the same 3.5 liter V6 as the previous model, but output has been bumped up to 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. The extra ponies give it bragging rights over its chief rivals, the BMW 535i, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E350. A six-speed automatic transmission puts the power to the ground via the rear wheels or an optional AWD system. Nudging the gear selector to the left, puts gearbox in manual shift mode, allowing for shifts to be made by use of paddles mounted on the steering wheel. Shifts made via the paddles are not instantaneous, but having the ability to choose when and where gear changes are made does add to the overall sport feel of the GS.
Mashing the go pedal results in a noise more stout than expected from a V6. It is that shockingly delightful sound that acts as the Siren’s Call, causing even the most conservative of Lexus drivers to feel the urge to accelerate as briskly as possible at every remotely justifiable opportunity. Our own acceleration tests yielded 0 – 60 mph times in the mid-5 second range and ¼ miles times in the low 14’s. It is not just straight line performance giving credibility to the sport side of the brand’s new direction; the 2013 GS 350 is equally impressive around the bends. Pushing the big four door around our favorite curves, in Sport S+, revealed the 3,977 pound sedan to be well balanced and predictable.
With a base price of $46,900, the new GS is priced to compete with its afore mentioned German rivals. Combining competitive pricing, historical dependability of Lexus and segment competitive mpg (19 city/26 highway), this fresh faced Lexus is poised to take some market share from the Germans.
To our disappointment, Lexus insists that there will not be a V8 variation of the GS, but they will offer a hybrid version, called the GS 450h.