Make us your home page
Instagram
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

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.









2013 Lexus GS350 with F Sport package

Price: $46,900 base start, $60,349 as tested

Powertrain:

3.5-liter V-6, 6-speed sequential shift electronically controlled automatic transmission, Drive Mode Select, paddle shifters, RWD

Horsepower: 306 at 6,400 rpm

Torque: 277 pound-feet at 4,800 rpm

Curb weight: 3,795 pounds

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase, 112.2

Length, 190.7

Width, 72.4

Seats: 5

Fuel economy:

19 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway

Safety features: 10 airbags, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management with vehicle stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist, automatic collision notification, heads-up display

Website: www.lexus.com/

models/GS

The Daily Drivers: Lexus loosens up a little with GS350 04/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 6, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday

    Business

    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  2. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes

    Transportation

    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]
  3. Claim: State pressured CFO, used secret recordings to shut down Universal Health Care

    Banking

    ST. PETERSBURG — The founder of St. Petersburg's Universal Health Care alleges that Florida regulators conspired with the company's chief financial officer to drive the once high-flying Medicare insurer out of business.

    Federal agents raided the headquarters of Universal Health Care in 2013, ordering employees to leave the building. The insolvent St. Petersburg Medicare insurer was then in the process of being liquidated by state regulators.
[DIRK SHADD   |   Times file photo]

  4. Aramis Ayala defends stance against death penalty: 'I did what I believe was proper'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala on Wednesday defended her "absolute discretion" to never seek the death penalty in murder cases, as skeptical justices of the Florida Supreme Court bombarded her lawyer with sharp questions.

    Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Times]
  5. Tampa Chamber of Commerce offers boost to black and Hispanic-owned businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — There's a disconnect in Hillsborough County's minority business community.

    Gaston Meredith of Gaston's Culinary Services listens to LaKendria Robinson, Director of Minority Business Accelerator & Economic Inclusion during an information session at the Robert W. Saunders Library in Tampa on Tuesday.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]