Full 2013 Lexus GS 350 Review
What's New for 2013
The Lexus GS 350 is redesigned for 2013.
For all the wonderful things Lexus cars are, "athletic" is not an adjective that usually enters a discussion of the brand. Traditionally, the automaker has produced cars that trade sharp reflexes for more predictable comfort (the IS F sport sedan and LFA supercar excepted). Lexus has reshaped that perception with the 2013 GS 350. Slightly wider and taller, much stiffer and with vastly improved steering feel, the GS 350 can finally lay claim to ground once owned solely by German sport-lux sedans.
The new GS 350 is not unlike its third-generation predecessor under its distinctly more aggressive-looking skin. Length and wheelbase remain the same, but the chassis is pulled out wider by about 2 inches. It also shares the same basic suspension setup, with an improved rear design that now allows about 25 percent more trunk space. The engine is the same 3.5-liter V6 as before, but with slightly improved power and fuel efficiency.
That's where the similarities end. Revised suspension geometry, a stiffer body structure and a quicker steering system help make the GS 350 the best-handling Lexus this side of the LFA. Inside, interior designers imposed a diet on the door panels, roof, trunk and carpet, shaving pounds to make room for new features like the touchpad-operated infotainment system, and sport seats with multiple adjustments. Longtime Lexus buyers needn't worry about quality, either, as the GS maintains the brand's reputation for high-quality materials and excellent build quality.
The end result is that the 2013 Lexus GS 350 is more equipped than ever to run with the Audi A6, BMW 535i and Infiniti M37. If you're shopping for a midsize luxury sport sedan, the latest GS is worth serious consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 is a midsize luxury sport sedan offered in a single, well-appointed trim level. The related GS 450h hybrid is reviewed separately.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, a sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and 10-way power front seats with driver memory. Standard electronics features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch control display with touchpad interface and a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio and a USB/iPod interface.
The Luxury package adds 18-inch wheels, adaptive headlamps, adaptive suspension dampers, upgraded leather, an 18-way power driver seat, a wood-trimmed steering wheel and rear climate and audio controls. The Premium package builds on those features with heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers and a power rear sunshade. A Cold Weather package includes a heated steering wheel, headlamp washers and a wiper de-icer.
The F Sport package offers the most performance bite, adding 19-inch wheels, special steering and suspension tuning, larger front brakes, a rear spoiler, a 16-way power sport driver seat and unique interior and exterior styling treatments.
Stand-alone options include 18-inch wheels, blind-spot detection, a head-up display, heated rear seats, parking assist, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, dynamic rear steering, a night vision camera, adaptive cruise control (with a pre-collision mitigation system), a premium Mark Levinson 17-speaker surround-sound audio system, and a hard-drive navigation system with a 12.3-inch display, voice recognition, real-time traffic and Lexus Enform smartphone-connected apps and services.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine making 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift paddle control is the only available transmission, but buyers can opt for a GS 350 with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds testing, a rear-drive GS 350 with the F Sport package accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a swift 5.8 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 combined, while the all-wheel-drive version rates a bit less at 19/26/21.
Standard safety features on the 2013 Lexus GS 350 include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side-impact airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and a rearview camera. Safety Connect, a traditional telematics service with automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator and emergency assistance button, is also standard.
Adding 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.
In Edmunds brake testing, a GS 350 with the F Sport package stopped from 60 in a short 112 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Complementing its physical and dynamic makeover, the 2013 Lexus GS 350 also gets a revised cabin. In the best Lexus tradition, it's a finely crafted interior marked by soft leather and rich wood and aluminum trim. Befitting this caliber of luxury sport sedan are seats that are firm and cosseting in equal measure, and limited only by the degree of power adjustments you choose.
The cabin also offers more space, with slightly more head- and shoulder room. Rear seat passengers will appreciate, however, nearly 3 more inches of hip room compared to the previous model. Trunk space is no longer an issue either, with the revised rear suspension design allowing 14.3 cubic feet for golf clubs and luggage.
The Remote Touch multimedia controller -- a small mouselike device adjacent to the gear selector -- is now in its second generation. It works quite well and helps navigate the menus and apps of the extensive infotainment system, displayed on the standard high-resolution 8-inch screen or the impressively large 12-inch display that comes with the optional navigation system. The optional Mark Levinson sound system sounds fantastic.
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 delivers punchy V6 power with traditional Lexus ride comfort. But the new GS dispenses with the soft, undulating motions of its predecessor when driven hard. Instead, improved steering and suspension design make the new GS feel alert, planted to the road and ready to change direction on a whim -- characteristics amplified when equipped with the F Sport package and optional features like variable steering ratio and rear wheel steering. Enthusiasts will also appreciate the extra leash afforded by the non-intrusive stability control system.
Our only major gripe is with the automatic transmission's shift points. Even set in manual shift mode, the gearbox releases revs too early, upshifting at 6,400 rpm -- rather annoying when you want power to leap out from a nice, quick corner.