2013 Lexus GS 350 Review and Test Drive

By Eva Leonard on 19 January 2012
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Twenty-two years ago when Toyota introduced the Lexus LS 400 as the automaker’s first luxury car the emphasis was placed squarely on customer service and value.

At a December press preview of the new Lexus GS 350, which launches in February as the fourth generation of the sport sedan, Brian Smith, Vice President of Lexus Marketing, described the introduction of the car as “a lot more than the launch of a new GS. We’re moving into a much more dynamic driving arena. The GS signifies a new, bolder, more confident direction.”

That new direction means that the GS 350 will be available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive with Premium, Luxury, or F Sport packages. The GS 450 Hybrid goes on sale in the spring.

To compete in the mid-luxury segment, Lexus is pursuing what the company describes as “a new level of design and driving dynamics,” with nine major new introductions planned over the next year and a half. With aggressive international competition clearly in mind, while developing the new GS, Lexus designers traveled to regions of Russia, the Middle East and China to better understand local driving conditions.

A very visible signifier of the changes underway at Lexus is the GS 350’s new trapezoidal spindle grill, but many of the improvements focus on enhanced ergonomics, aerodynamics, power and control. The F Sport’s new Lexus Dynamic Handling System (optional), for example, includes rear-wheel steering. Indeed, I’ve never felt more in control of a car, as it hugged the road with tight, precise handling and responded smoothly and quickly.

The GS 350 has a length of 190.7 inches, a height of 57.3 inches and width of 72.4 inches. Front and rear door openings have been redesigned for easier entrance and exit.

Aero fins on the rear bumper help control air flow for better aerodynamics.

The new interior is easy on the eyes, with a wide layout, a horizontal instrument panel, and LED nightlights on the door panel and center console area.  The cabin is more spacious, with more room both in front and in back, and a greater field of vision for the driver. The GS 350 also features 25 % more trunk space and a wider trunk opening.

As they were developing the steering wheel Lexus put pressure sensor gloves on the hands of professional drivers. The result: different areas of the steering wheel vary in shape for a better feel. (The new Hybrid features a completely hand-finished bamboo steering wheel and bamboo interior accents.) Additionally, the steering column angle has been changed from 23° to 21°  to help prevent the driver from getting worn out on long trips.  To that end, the seats have adjustable shoulder support and extendable thigh support.

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