2013 Lexus GS 350: Tight Turning Circle
January 22, 2013
If I park on the curb the night before, which I often do, my first morning task consists of flipping a U-turn to get myself pointed toward work. More often than not that winds up being a three-point turn because, well, my quiet suburban street isn't all that wide.
But a funny thing happened in our 2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport. This largish 190.7-inch long machine whipped around easily. No sweat.
Smaller cars such as a Toyota Prius c Four (the one with the 17-inch wheels) have gone down to defeat. The same is true of numerous other cars and trucks of all brands.
How did the GS 350 and its longish 112.2-inch wheelbase pull it off? For one, rear-drive machines that ride on double wishbone front suspension can sometimes, but not always, offer more lock than front drive cars that ride on struts. But our 2013 GS 350 also has a trick up its sleeve that goes by the name of Lexus Dynamic Handling, which includes something they call Dynamic Rear Steering or DRS. Modern computer-controlled rear steering systems can do a lot of nifty things whether one is expertly carving up corners or inexpertly running out of talent, but a reduced turning circle in a situation like this is one of the technology's more mundane and practical benefits.
But how much is it worth? In an odd twist, I'm dealing with two sets of official turning circle numbers: one that matches the Lexus website (and ours) and another I got after a call to the Lexus PR department. Odd this may be, both sets of figures agree on one point: DRS shaves 1.4 feet off the curb-to-curb U-turn diameter. Not much, perhaps, but just enough here on my street.
Curious, I lined the Lexus up for a little test reenactment, starting as you see here with the outside edges of the tires lined up with the asphalt/concrete gutter seam as a reference line. Next I cranked the steering all the way to the left and then eased onto the gas.
Here's where the GS wound up. After first straightening the wheels my tape measure told me the ride-side tires had moved laterally exactly 30.0 feet from the seam I started from. But 30 feet is not the turning circle we're looking for because the front tires trace a wider arc during a turn.
Turns out the protruding chin of the GS's front fascia is the limiting factor, and here it came no closer than a couple of inches.
According to my tape the asphalt part of the road is 31 feet, 8 inches wide, with two more feet of gutter to the curb. That's a turning circle of 33 feet, 8 inches minus the two inches by which the Lexus missed the curb. Call it 33.5 feet. Care to guess the published number with the rear steering option?
The number I got from Lexus PR was 33.4 feet. I suppose that means the website's "with LDH" figure of 35.4 feet isn't correct because there's no doubt I cleared that distance.
However you look at it, 33.5 feet is a mighty tight turning circle for a car this long, a good thing to know if you have a tight driveway.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,885 miles