Lexus GS: Sport Sedan Emphasizes Craftsmanship, Creativity

The new GS is the same length as before, but two inches wider at the rear and an inch wider at the front. Pricing starts at $47,775.

The 2013 Lexus GS is an efficient and powerful messenger. This full-size sport sedan debuted the new (styling) face of the brand and Lexus says it is attracting new buyers to the brand.

The new design is defined by the “spindle” grille and the (Audi-esque) arrowhead-shaped LED daytime running lights.

It is an easy car to enjoy, moving with a lithe fitness. And the Lexus luxury is contemporary and accommodating. It competes mainly with the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

The new GS is the same length as before, but two inches wider at the rear and an inch wider at the front. It has a very low aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.26, which compares to 0.25 for the Toyota Prius.

Interior craftsmanship has been enhanced (as if Lexus was ever short on posh) and there are some new, simple and useful conveniences, such as a three-blink to pass signal feature and guidance lines in the standard rearview mirror. I appreciated the electric parking brake, which has an auto mode to engage when shifting into Park and disengage when shifting into Drive. Combine that little time saver with the proximity key, which unlocks/locks doors with the driver’s touch to the door handle and push-button start, and getting underway is much streamlined.

Sightlines are good in all directions and front-seat entry and exit is gracious and comfortable. The standard moonroof trims front headroom to 38 inches. Back-seat legroom is good at 36.3 inches, but foot space for getting into the back is tight. Safety features include 10 air bags.

The five-seat sedan is sold in three trim levels — Luxury, F Sport and Hybrid — in rear or optional all-wheel drive with V-6 engines. There is no V-8 offered, but the Hybrid has V-8 acceleration.

Pricing for the rear-drive sedan starts at $47,775; AWD models start at $50,325.

The GS 450h starts at $59,825 and has a 338-hp, Atkinson-cycle version of the 3.5-liter V-6 and is rated 29/34 mpg. Trunk space was increased over the previous model by stacking the batteries. With 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, the Hybrid’s rich performance is (nearly) guilt free.

The F Sport test car was $57,322, handsomely dressed in red leather and metal-trimmed pedals. Options include night vision, head-up display, blind-spot monitor and lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning.

An astounding element in the F Sport package ($5,690) is the rear steering assist. At low speeds, it counter steers to chop the turning circle in half to 17.4 feet. At high speeds, the rear wheels turn with the front direction to tuck back into the lane. This rear steering gear is an excellent around town feature that should be available as a stand-alone option.

The F-sport suspension and ride quality is quite humane. The package also includes (staggered) 19-inch rear summer tires that are wider on the rear than the front and hefty 14-inch front disc brakes with four-piston calipers. The working relationship between steering, braking and throttle is responsive, but not competition grade.

The standard GS 350 powertrain is a 306-hp, 3.5-liter, direct-injection V-6 and six-speed automatic. And the engine has an intake sound generator for that husky tone ‘o power. EPA fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city, 28 highway and 23 combined. Curb weight is light at 3,795 pounds and acceleration to 60 mph takes just 5.7 seconds. The six-speed automatic may seem short a few gears compared to the competition’s seven and eight speeds, but the performance is harmonious.

The GS 350 also features an ECO mode that blunts throttle response and revises seat heating and climate control systems to reduce draw on the engine and maximize mileage. My preferred drive mode was “normal.” The Sport setting would be appropriate when tearing up a back road, but it seemed too agitated and sudden around town.

The styling will become recognizable, just as is the face of Audi or BMW. And under the skin is an array of advanced technologies in a value-rich package.


2013 Lexus GS 350

—Body style: large, 5-passenger, rear-drive or all-wheel-drive sport sedan

—Engine: aluminum, DOHC, 306-horse power, 3.5-liter V-6 with direct and port injection; 277 foot-pounds. torque at 4,800 rpm

—Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters and Eco, Normal and Sport modes

—EPA estimated fuel mileage: 19/28 mpg city/hwy; premium recommended

—Fuel tank: 17.4 gallons

—Length/wheelbase: 190.7/112.2 in.

—Front head/leg/shoulder room: 38/42.3/57.3 inches

—Rear head/leg/shoulder room: 37.8/36.3/55.7 inches

—0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds.; 6-seconds AWD; top track speed 142 mph (131 AWD)

—Curb weight: 3,795 pounds. (3,980 AWD)

—Drag coefficient: 0.26 cd

—Standard equipment includes: Smart Access locking and push-button ignition, leather-trimmed seats,10-way adjustable front seats with 4-way adjustable head restraints, electric parking brake, fold-down rear center armrest, rearview camera, 8-inch high center touchscreen, tilt-telescopic (multifunction) steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connection, trunk pass through, 12-speaker surround-sound HD-radio audio system with auxiliary-iPod-USB ports, advanced voice recognition, Gracenote music management, 17-inch alloy wheels standard (18-inch optional and 19-inch staggered on F Sport with 235/40R19 front, 265/35R19 rear summer treads), 17-inch alloy wheels with 9-spoke design, heated mirrors with puddle lights and turn signals, ultraviolet and infrared ray-reducing tinted glass for all windows

—Safety equipment includes: 10 air bags (including front knee bags), 4-wheel vented disc brakes with ABS, brake assist, brake-force distribution and stability and traction controls,

—Base price: $47,775, including $875 freight charge

—Where assembled: Japan

—Warranty: 4-years/50,000-miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance and free first and second scheduled maintenances; 5-years/70,000-miles powertrain

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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