2013 Lexus GS 350: Are Six Speeds Enough?
May 16, 2013
The BMW 5 Series comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. You'll find eight forward gears in any all-wheel-drive Audi A6. Jaguar has just dropped eight speeds into all of its 2013 XF sedans. Heck, you can get an eight-speed auto in a Dodge Charger now.
Then there's the 2013 Lexus GS 350. Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel would be very disappointed that its transmission only goes up to six.
When I'm driving our long-term GS 350, I don't find its transmission to be a liability. In Drive, it upshifts smoothly and downshifts promptly. And while we've noted previously that the manual-mode downshifts shifts are kind of slow, they are rev-matched in the Sport mode and seem within the realm of acceptability for speed to me.
Basically, I wouldn't ever mention the transmission as a negative to you if you expressed interest in buying a GS 350.
That said, I don't think there's any question that the GS 350 would be even better if it had a quality eight-speed automatic. The eight-speed automatic used in the cars listed above (it's built by aftermarket supplier ZF) shifts so smoothly and unobtrusively that you'll rarely notice there are eight gears being juggled about. Fuel economy would also likely improve incrementally compared to the GS's six-speed.
And I suppose from a luxury car marketing standpoint (just like guitar amps), more is always better.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 16,243 miles