Shopping for a midsize luxury sport sedan? Chances are good the Lexus GS 350 isn’t on your list of testers, but maybe it should be. It’s true that previous generations of the car, while luxurious, failed to inspire when the pedal hit the floor and handling was needed in the twisties. I’m happy to say you can forget everything you know or think you know about the Lexus GS 305, because the all-new-for-2013 GS 350 is a faster road gripping machine.
The first thing you will notice about the GS is the revised styling. The car is edgier and more youthful looking. The front grille dominates the styling and flows nicely into the hood and the headlights are larger and rather conventional by modern standards but they fit the car perfectly. The profile of the car is a bit more subdued with classic lines and a few chrome flourishes. The rear of the car is as bold as the front with large wrapping tail lights, a black bottom fascia and large metallic exhaust ports. Overall, the 2013 GS 350 makes the previous generation look quite bland in comparison.
While the exterior of the car is great, the interior is downright fantastic. The GS 350 sports a fit and finish that blows away vehicles that are two or even three times the price. The dash is covered in very handsome soft touch vinyl and dark wood veneer and brushed aluminum adorn most surfaces of the interior. 18-way power front seats allow the driver and passenger to dial in comfort and support with ease while heat and cooling options make them a place you won’t mind staying for awhile. Rear seats while a bit simpler are perfectly comfortable with plenty of head and leg room and their own climate and audio controls at hand. For the price range I have yet to see a better appointed interior.
The GS 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that is good for 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, a slight improvement over the previous model. Fuel economy is also up from 26 to 28 (19 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway). The Gs 350 has also shed some weight which helps explain how a car with a moderate horsepower bump can now best it’s predecessor by nearly a second and hit 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
Drive characteristics are largely dictated by where you choose to place the Drive Mode Select switch. Eco mode, as you can probably guess, is lifeless but efficient. Normal mode is better. Sport and Sport+ mode are where enthusiasts will likely choose to stay. The shift point raises, shifts quicken, throttle response tightens and in Sport+ the suspension stiffens for fantastic handling without being overly punishing. Compared to the previous generation everything is improved. The car pulls hard, corners with ease, stops quickly and even steering is massively improved and natural feeing. While it is no BMW 5 series of Audi S5 it is very impressive and a good bit cheaper.
The GS 350 while massively improved still falls just short of being a full blown sport sedan — the focus remains largely on passenger comfort — the GS 350 is, however, a giant stride forward and given a more significant bump in horses it would be the go to ride in the sport sedan segment. If you are in the market for a midsize luxury sedan and are looking for a little fun infusion the GS 350 should definitely be on your short list, given the impecable build quality, great styling and outstanding interior I would put it towards the top.