Full 2010 Lexus GS 350 Review
What's New for 2010
The Lexus GS 350 carries over with minor trim and technology upgrades for 2010. New standard features include iPod/USB connectivity, streaming Bluetooth audio, satellite radio, Safety Connect emergency telematics and active front headrests. The optional navigation system features casual-language voice recognition and traffic/weather capability.
It takes a lot to get noticed in the midsize luxury sedan segment. Customers are looking for prestige as well as refinement, quality and performance, and for almost two decades, Lexus has been trying to match the big names from Germany on each of those counts with its GS series of luxury sport sedans. Today's 2010 Lexus GS 350 is indeed the strongest entry yet, and we doubt that buyers will be disappointed in its abilities to transport as well as coddle them from point A to point B. However, we're not sure it does them well enough to draw attention away from those pesky big names from Germany.
The GS 350 is one of three GS models available (the V8-powered GS 460 and hybrid GS 450h are covered in separate reviews). It features an eager 303-horsepower V6, but otherwise shares their flawless fit and finish, quiet and sumptuous cabin, and all the latest features a luxury sedan buyer could want. The GS 350 fleshes out its technology roster this year with audio enhancements like standard iPod/USB connectivity, streaming Bluetooth audio and satellite radio, while the optional navigation system now features casual-language voice recognition and traffic/weather reporting. Active front headrests and emergency communications are added as well, further enhancing the GS 350's state-of-the-art safety systems.
Our main gripes concern its handling aptitude, overly sensitive brakes and headroom, areas where the GS 350 still trails behind many competitors. The BMW 5 Series (whether the present model or the upcoming 2011 all-new replacement) is the choice for those who want the most performance and space. The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is impressively well-rounded and obviously comes with the panache of Benz's three-pointed star. Those interested in the Lexus' value relative to the Germans should consider the Hyundai Genesis, which cannot be matched for its bang for the buck. Models like the Audi A6 and Infiniti M35 are also worth considering. So the 2010 Lexus GS 350 deserves a look -- especially because of Lexus' strong reliability reputation -- but it's still overshadowed for good reason.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Lexus GS 350 is a midsize luxury sport sedan with standard rear-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive. The GS 350 is well-appointed in a single trim level with all the niceties you'd expect of Lexus, including 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, a sunroof, power trunk closer, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power front seats with driver memory and lumbar adjustment, Safety Connect emergency telematics, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a 10-speaker stereo with six-CD changer, satellite radio and USB/iPod interface.
The Luxury Value Edition adds a hard-drive navigation system, real-time traffic and weather, a rearview camera, voice controls and extra telematics services. A 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound stereo can be added to the Luxury Value Edition. Other options includes an adaptive variable suspension, adaptive cruise control (includes Pre-Collision system), 18-inch alloy wheels and summer tires, an automatic parking system, automatic wipers, heated and ventilated front seats, and a power rear sunshade.
Powertrains and Performance
The Lexus GS 350 is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 303 hp and 274 pound-feet of torque. Power is transmitted through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. The GS 350 is a swift performer, completing the 0-60-mph sprint in 5.7 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for rear-drive models checks in at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, while all-wheel-drive versions are a tad thirstier at 18/25/20.
Lexus strengthens its commitment to safety by adding standard active front headrests and Safety Connect emergency communications to the 2010 GS 350. Other carryover features include antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control, front and rear side-impact airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
The optional adaptive cruise control includes a pre-collision system that detects impending collisions and responds by pre-tensioning the seatbelts and activating brake assist. The 2010 Lexus GS 350 is a stellar performer in IIHS crash testing, receiving the highest rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side-impact collisions. In Edmunds brake testing, the GS 350 with 18-inch wheels and all-season tires came to a stop from 60 mph in an excellent 114 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2010 GS 350's cabin reflects Lexus' reputation for fine craftsmanship, and is clothed in supple leather plus genuine wood and aluminum accents. Four average-sized adults will fit comfortably, but adding a fifth person at the elevated rear center position can make for a tight fit in back. Likewise, overall headroom is fine for most, but tall occupants can feel more confined than in most competitor sedans. Instrument panel displays and the optional high-resolution navigation touchscreen are easy to see and use, although the integrated audio system controls aren't naturally intuitive. Another minor ergonomic shortcoming involves the highly polished wood trim, which occasionally reflects distracting glare in bright sunlight.
We think most drivers will be quite satisfied with the 2010 Lexus GS 350's abundant power, supple ride and respectable handling. The advanced V6 is right at home during the daily commute, yet also possesses sufficient power reserves for seriously quick motoring. The GS 350 features a sophisticated suspension that confidently handles corners and transitions, but it lacks the responsiveness of more athletically tuned sport sedans. The brakes can be touchy for the unfamiliar, but they offer solid, competitive performance. The all-wheel-drive option provides an unobtrusive extra measure of confidence and security for those who drive regularly in poor weather.