The first bite is taken with the eye, and on initial impressions the 2013 Lexus GS 350 is a bit of an ugly duckling. The looks might not win many awards - the front end has a lot of angles competing against one another - but one person's rubbish is another person's Rembrandt, so maybe the GS 350's looks will improve with familiarity. On the up side, when you're driving the GS 350 you don't have to look at it, which raises the question; should you buy one?
Well exterior styling aside, with the new GS 350 you’ll certainly be getting a large amount of vehicle and vehicle refinements for your money. Lexus’ marketing people use phrases such as “next generation technology” and “100,000 miles in development” and the GS 350 isn’t short of mechanical and technical wizardry. As you’d expect of any mid-luxury vehicle it’s packed with accoutrements including a 12-speaker surround sound system that easily obliterates ambient noise. However it’s a bit disappointing to discover that many of the GS 350’s more exciting features – many of them lauded by Lexus as prime selling points – are only available as (sometimes pricey) options.
On the performance front Lexus has really stepped up to the plate, and the GS 350 has none of the stodginess hitherto associated with executive performance vehicles. Its sporty V6 engine is one of the most powerful in its class, the 0-60 figures are up there with the benchmark – and chief rival – BMW 5-Series, and the ride is incredibly smooth; no matter how hard to throw the chassis around in the curves.
One issue with the GS 350’s handling is its slightly sterile feel and feedback. Although perfect for cruising in complete comfort, the urgency and thrill of a thoroughbred sportscar is lacking when you push the GS 350. However the majority of GS 350 buyers are unlikely to speed-junkies and so the ongoing handling criticism leveled at the GS 350 is unlikely to perturb its core audience.
The GS 350 is a highly impressive piece of engineering that’s somewhat let down on the base model’s trim front. Many of the range’s much-publicized features and innovations are only available as options, packages, or as part of the F-Sport or 450h models. The 3.5 liter V6 engine is the same throughout the range, pushing out 306hp and 227 lb-ft of torque, which is equal to or above it’s closest rivals, and GS 350’s attention to passenger safety (10-airbag system, smart stop braking technology) comes as standard on all models. The options include such desirables as HUD, Lexus Enform and Safety Connect with App suite and huge 12.3” hi-res, split-screen multimedia display, rear seat controls for the passengers and near-infrared night view technology, drive mode select and bamboo steering wheel for the driver.
Another showcase in engineering excellence from Lexus, but you might want to seriously consider an upgrade package or purchasing several options.
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|Build & Price|
Considerably more expensive, but excellent handling and overall driving feel
More affordable, but lacks interior quality fit & finish
Slightly less power and performance, but head-turning style
Similar price and equally well-equipped, but lacks acceleration and handling prowess