The new 2013 GS 350 serves up a package that blends luxury with Lexus' evocative new design philosophy. The new visual appeal of the GS features an aggressive inverted trapezoidal-shaped upper and bottom-wide lower grille producing what Lexus refers to as a new "spindle grille," along with arrowhead shaped headlights, pronounced wheel flares and bumper corners. Combined with the "slingshot" windows and rear door trailing edges the GS 350 projects strength and stability.
When stepping inside you'll be greeted with the aluminum alloy "Lexus" stamped scuff plates on all doorsills. Contrast stitching is executed on soft vinyl-wrapped upper instrumentation panel, seats, door panels and shift boot. LED ambient lighting is integrated into door trim and Remote Touch Interface surround area.
All 2013 GS models are propelled by the same mechanical components, with no variation in power output. Power is provided by a 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 engine with direct port fuel injection that makes 306 horsepower at 6,400 rpm, while generating 277 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. The V-6 is coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission with four power modes available -- Eco, Normal, Sport, including Sport+ modes on some models. EPA ratings are 19/28 mpg for the RWD model and 19/26 mpg for the AWD version.
During the national press launch, I was afforded the opportunity to pilot all versions of the 2012 GS lineup on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as well as on surface streets surrounding the track facilities. I spent the most time in an F-Sport AWD GS 350. The rear-wheel-drive GS starts at $46,900. Pricing for the RWD model begins at $49,450.
The F-Sport Package adds unique visual cues featuring bolder and more aggressively designed lower front and rear fascias, pronounced rockers, a rear decklid spoiler, a uniquely specific grille texture treatment and 19-inch wheels as standard fare. The F-Sport Package truly represents an engaging and enhanced visual character to the GS.
The ride quality is exceptionally comfortable and the handling is indeed sporty, with crisp, precise responses. Acceleration from the 3.5-liter V6 is surprisingly rewarding for a relatively heavy luxury sport sedan. A unique Intake Sound Creator provides a healthy and menacing growl when prodded with gusto. The GS 350 F-Sport rides on 19-inch staggered width wheels front to rear summer compound tires for a slightly more planted feel.
The interior ambience is most inviting and is particularly appealing with the light satin-finished Bamboo trim accents. The 12.3-inch multi-info display allows for a three-way split screen for information. A remote touch central controller is mouse-like for ease of function selection. A Special Enform 2.0 Apps suite is available for connectivity "junkies" and there is a host of safety technology that comes included as standard fare to enhance the driving experience.
The GS is destined to compete in a highly competitive marketplace segment with the likes of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and the E-Class of Mercedes-Benz. Many consumers will likely embrace it -- others will not.
It is certainly the best-looking GS to come from the Lexus design team, yet it seems to lack an overall dramatic impact. Don't get me wrong. This is an exceptionally good-looking vehicle, but the car might not produce what would be considered an emotional stirring within for many. However, the new Lexus GS is definitely going to be a strong contender in the luxury sport sedan market.
Copyright © 2012 Motor Matters
|Base price||$49,450 (estimated as-tested: $50,325-plus)|
|Epa mileage rating||19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||17.4 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||306 at 6400 rpm|
|Motor type||24-valve V-6 w/DPI|
|Overall length||190.7 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||277 at 4800 rpm|
|Vehicle type||5-passenger AWD midsize sedan|
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