Saturday, May 26, 2018
Business

The Daily Drivers: Lexus loosens up a little with GS350

We've always appreciated the build quality of Lexus, Toyota's premium brand, but found their sedans to be stodgy. After all, it was only a few years ago that you could still get one with a cassette player. So the redesigned GS350 comes as a surprise — not so much in its physical change as in its attitude. As in, it now has one.

Appearance: The most notable changes are up front, where the GS350 — ours came with the F Sport package — gets the "spindle" grille that draws its inspiration from Lexus' recent LF-LC concept car. The lower fascia also is more aggressive-looking — especially in the F Sport — with pronounced creases and ducts that bring to mind a racer. The headlights get an eyeliner LED treatment. The F Sport also brings 19-inch, five-spoke alloys with a dark graphite finish. These are sharp wheels. The car also gets a wider stance — Lexus says 2 inches worth — but the rest of the body remains mostly unchanged.

Performance: The rear-wheel-drive GS350 — AWD is available — has the same engine, a 3.5-liter V-6, and 6-speed automatic transmission as the previous generation, but tuning gives it an extra 3 horsepower to 306. Because we had the F Sport, it also had suspension, brake and steering upgrades. Those changes are noticeable: The handling is taut, and you can take corners confidently. We did find the steering feel to be a bit too light. Something new that stands out: an actual exhaust note, especially at low speeds. We found the transmission a bit finicky when trying to pass on the interstate or in quick acceleration. It's best to use the paddle shifters and Sport Plus (manual) mode, which make for a better driving experience. The harder you push it, the better it responds.

Interior: Lexus always shines when it comes to interiors, and this one didn't disappoint. It had excellent fit and finish, with sporty black perforated-leather seats and aluminum trim. We loved the 16-way adjustable driver's seat, which has power side bolsters. The GS350 has plenty of head- and legroom up front. In the rear, it's adequate, although there's not much foot room. A huge 12.3-inch display dominates the dash and is the largest we've seen. Two-thirds of it is devoted to navigation and the rest is for audio and other functions. To control that big screen, the car has a mouse — Remote Touch Multimedia Controller — to navigate. It works well, but you may find yourself wishing for a "back" button. The interior is quiet, except for that exhaust note, which is actually a comforting sound. Our tester also came with goodies such as rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated front seats, power rear shade and a heads-up display.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Grille: This is the new Lexus design philosophy. I hope it spreads to other design elements.

Exhaust note: A sports sedan should have one, after all.

Heads-up display: It's crisp and one of the best I've seen.

Lyra Solochek

Superb handling: Driving on curvy roads is a thrill.

F Sport seat: Driver's seat has plenty of adjustments and bolstering for those curvy roads.

LCD: The huge display dominates the dash.

The bottom line: We were prepared to not like the new GS350, but it made a new fan in Peter. The F Sport is still more "sporty" than "sport," but it's an all-around improvement that should get the German automakers' attention.









     
         
Comments
An American Airlines passenger was refused beer - so he screamed, fought and spit blood, FBI says

An American Airlines passenger was refused beer - so he screamed, fought and spit blood, FBI says

It began, as so many plane debacles seem to, with strange sounds in the bathroom.They were the noises of Jason Felix, one of the passengers on Wednesday’s American Airlines flight out of Saint Croix, according to a FBI affidavit recounting events lea...
Published: 05/26/18
Is the Lightning’s Jeff Vinik the best owner in professional sports?

Is the Lightning’s Jeff Vinik the best owner in professional sports?

Hope of another Stanley Cup has dissolved, and soon the ice will follow. Yet even if sorrow is the price of devotion, the true hockey fans will still buy in when the next season comes around.That concept may not be unique to Tampa Bay, but it does se...
Published: 05/26/18
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Published: 05/25/18
With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

TAMPA — Behind the construction walls near the carousel at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, hammers, saws and power drills made a racket in the blazing Friday heat. A raft full of 100-pound water jugs took test trips on the new Roaring Springs ride set ...
Published: 05/25/18
U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

LONDON — U.S. news outlets including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Orlando Sentinel and The Arizona Daily Star abruptly blocked access to their websites from Europe on Friday, choosing to black out readers rather than comply with a ...
Published: 05/25/18
Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

TAMPA — Tampa Electric Co. is appealing a recent citation by federal regulators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit the utility with a $76,050 fine and a "serious" violation in April following its investigation into an accident in ...
Published: 05/25/18
Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Don’t use the cruise control

Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Don’t use the cruise control

Associated PressDETROIT — Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because in rare but terrifying circumstances, drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The company is warning owners not to use cruise control until...
Published: 05/25/18
Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Associated PressFederal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Friday that the Fed’s independence from political pressure must be respected if it is to succeed in controlling inflation, maximizing employment and regulating the financial system. His re...
Published: 05/25/18
Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Tim Butler’s first car was a Ford Model A pick-up truck — a pearl fawn and cherry red pick-up he got his senior year in high school from his dad, who renovates antique cars. That’s why as Butler waited for a table at the Ford’...
Published: 05/25/18
St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

TAMPA — A St. Petersburg man was fined $507,513 and permanently barred from participating in the offering of a penny stock in a case involving a scheme to manipulate the price of Aureus, a penny stock company incorporated in Nevada, officials said Fr...
Published: 05/25/18