REVIEWS: 2013 Lexus GS350 AWD

By - December 15, 2012
2013 Lexus GS350 AWD Front Right Side View
Although the Lexus GS is all-new for 2013, it continues to exemplify what Lexus has been known for: quiet, luxurious cabins and little sporting intentions. Step into the GS 350 and every surface you lay your hand on is made of a high-quality or soft-touch material. The leather is rich (and covers the seats, doors, and dashboard), the wood looks rare (if a bit too scorched in color), and every button and hinge has a silent and dampened movement. Even the exterior design - which at first seemed audacious with its offensive, spindle-shaped grille - is quite refined, especially in our tester's Riviera red paint job.
Passengers are treated to one of the largest infotainment screens in the business (it's 12.3 inches on the diagonal), but the actual system is stuck in the last decade. It was clearly designed for use as a touchscreen with oversized buttons and simple graphics and doesn't take advantage of the big screen or the mouse-like controller. The driving experience, too, seems to be stuck in the past. Despite the fact that the GS is supposed to herald in a sportier era for the luxury brand, the GS drives just like a Lexus of yore - quietly, smoothly, and with little feel transferred to the driver. Even in Sport+ mode, the GS 350 exhibits a fair bit of body roll and imprecise handling under aggressive driving. Those dynamics might be expected from a Lexus, but not one that is gunning for the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5 Series. And without better performance to set the GS apart, it becomes hard to rationalize the extra price over Lexus's own ES - a car that truly exemplifies what the Lexus brand is: a brand of comfortable, well-appointed luxury cars.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
2013 Lexus GS350 AWD Front View
Although the last Lexus GS had rear-wheel drive and an available V-8, it never entered my consciousness as a sport sedan. Its poor body control, rubber-band steering feel, and a bland interior made it a vehicle you bought because you wanted a medium-sized Lexus. Apparently there aren't many of those people -- barely a tenth the number of BMW 5-series buyers over the last two years.
The new GS shouts a very different message. Its styling is now as polarizing as it was generic and noncommittal. The interior sets a similarly aggressive tone and broadcasts its desire for younger buyers with a huge infotainment screen. The quick, surprisingly heavy steering likewise seems tuned to tell you instantly that this is a different sort of Lexus. I did not get a chance to take this all-wheel-drive model to its limit, but found the F-sport version we had in our office earlier offered commendably flat handling.
I wonder how many buyers will actually hear the GS's cry. This is a segment where even damn good cars like the Infiniti M and the Acura TL struggle to dent the sales of the Mercedes E-class and BMW 5-series. Still, I credit Lexus for changing course -- I'm excited to see where it goes from here.
David Zenlea, Associate Editor
2013 Lexus GS350 AWD Dash

2013 Lexus GS350 AWD

MSRP (with destination): $50,325
PRICE AS TESTED: $59,759
ENGINE:
3.5-liter DOHC V-6
Horsepower: 306 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 277 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
TRANSMISSION:
6-speed automatic
DRIVE:
All-wheel
WHEELS AND TIRES:
18-inch aluminum wheels
235/45VR-18 Dunlop SP Sport 5100 tires
FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
19/26/21 mpg
CURB WEIGHT:
3980 lb
CAPACITIES:
Doors/Passengers: 4/5
Cargo: 14.3 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 42.3/36.3 in
Headroom (front/rear): 38.0/37.8 in
Towing: N/A
EXTERIOR/INTERIOR COLOR:
Riviera Red/Black with Linear Espresso trim
STANDARD FEATURES:
Power tilt-and-telescopic steering column w/automatic tilt-away
White LED interior ambient lighting
10-way power adjustable front seats
Keyless entry and ignition
Power sunroof
Automatic dual-zone climate control
Auto-dimming exterior mirrors
HD radio w/iTunes tagging
Bluetooth
USB port
SiriusXM satellite radio w/three-month subscription
LED DRLs
Stability and traction control
Rearview camera
Bi-xenon headlights w/washers
17-in aluminum wheels
Automatic collision notification
Carpeted floor mats
OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
Luxury and Cold Weather packages- $6530
Heated rear seats
Rain-sensing windshield wipers
Heated and ventilated front seats
Power rear sunshade
18-inch aluminum wheels
Adaptive dampers
Wood- and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel
Espresso interior accents
18-way power front seats
Tri-zone climate control
High-intensity interior heater
Rear-door manual sunshades
Navigation package- $1735
12.3-inch split-screen multimedia display
Lexus Enform
Weather, traffic, and stock updates w/one-year subscription
Blind spot monitoring system- $500
Intuitive park assist- $500
Trunk mat- $105
Cargo net- $64
KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
F Sport package- $5690
ADDITIONAL SPECS:
The all-wheel-drive GS350 weighs 195 lb more and costs $2550 more than the rear-wheel-drive GS350.
COMPARE TO:
Audi A6, BMW 535i xDrive, Infiniti M37x

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