I'm a huge fan of Toyota's 3.5-liter V-6. It makes power everywhere, launching this heavy, four-wheel-drive sedan with authority and pulling hard right up to redline. Everything else about the GS is rather dated. The interior in particular lags considerably behind most of its $50,000 competitors, with a bland design and unwelcoming hard plastics on the dash. Even the new-ish telematics feel about five years behind due to the ugly, pixelated graphics on the nav screen.
The GS doesn't drive badly. As I noted, the engine is excellent. Its suspension isn't really set up for hard cornering, but it will play along if you insist upon a few quick turns. That can't be said for the steering, which is way too vague and numb.
As Joe notes, there's nothing about the GS that will disappoint a loyal owner. Much like the Acura RL, another dated Japanese sedan, it has a strong reputation for quality and covers all the luxury bases. But if you're looking for something more -- style, fun, attitude -- consider other options.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Lexus regularly gets knocked for not being sporty enough, yet the company's positioning looks pretty good to me when every other premium automaker is so set on establishing some pretense of sportiness with their cars. You buy a Lexus for comfort and luxury and a good value, and the GS350 delivers on that front. The cabin is exceptionally quiet, the build quality is solid, it's plenty spacious, and the ride is well isolated from bumps.
As with most of the staff, I find the interior to be dull and ergonomically dated, but it's important to remember that I'm probably 30 years shy of being the typical buyer. As we've seen with Ford, it's easy to get carried away with the electronics; one can imagine a complicated interface causing grief for Lexus buyers. Lexus unveiled the LF-Gh concept at the 2011 New York auto show, suggesting that the GS's future includes more aggressive styling and a sportier stance. While the current car could use an injection of personality, I certainly hope that Lexus doesn't make the mistake of chasing a sportier image and feel.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor