Lexus has a bit of a problem. The Japanese luxury carmaker builds some of the finest midlevel luxury cars in the world and they've been instrumental in the hybridization of that class. They have excellent reliability, great name recognition, inoffensive styling and all of the luxury trimmings buyers expect at this level.
Trouble is, few people are passionate about owning a Lexus. "Oh, Bob bought a Lexus? That's nice." That is the extent of the excitement most Lexus sedans generate. And in a crowded, highly competitive market segment that features numerous high-powered sport sedans, that reputation doesn't help.
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 is the company's latest bid to change that. It not only has more aggressive styling, it's available with an F Sport package and a dynamic handling pack. Together they put the new GS on a dynamic level that Lexus hopes will attract customers who would typically gravitate to Audi, BMW and Infiniti sport sedans.
Does it really deliver that kind of performance? We decided to add a 2013 Lexus GS 350 to our long-term fleet with those exact packages to find out.
What We Got
The 2013 Lexus GS is available in only one trim level. It costs $47,795 and includes a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 spinning the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. There is no V8-powered model in the lineup.
Based on our early drives of the 2013 Lexus GS we knew there were two optional packages that we had to have. First up was the F Sport package for $5,690. It adds staggered 19-inch wheels with summer tires, an adaptive variable suspension, variable-ratio steering and 14-inch front brake rotors with four-piston fixed calipers. Additional upgrades include rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated front seats, aluminum interior trim, a black headliner and unique F Sport bodywork.
The other option we wanted was the slightly less expensive Lexus Dynamic Handling system. This $1,700 package includes an active rear steering system that, in concert with the sport steering, helps the GS whip around corners like a much smaller car.
Unfortunately, Lexus dealers are not as bullish on the system, as it was nearly impossible to find a car equipped with both packages. We finally tracked one down at Keyes Lexus in Van Nuys, which is relatively close to our home office in Santa Monica. The only problem was that in addition to the sport packages, it also had a host of other options we didn't want.
The extras included a blind spot monitoring system, head-up display, the Mark Levinson stereo system, Intuitive park assist, a pre-collision system and dynamic radar cruise, paint protection film and the massive 12.3-inch high-resolution screen running Lexus' newest infotainment system. All told, the extra options added about $16,000 to the base price of our GS 350 for a final sticker price of $63,427.
Our choice was either take all the extras or wait for another car to arrive with the packages we really wanted. We decided to go ahead with this car after negotiating a price that was much closer to the invoice price.
We struck a deal for the car but hit one last snag. On the day we were to take delivery, the salesman called and said he found some damage on the car. It was a small dent in the roof on the passenger side, but it wasn't something that could be fixed by a dent repair specialist. The roof would have to be repainted. At that point, we told them that if they would be willing to take $1,000 off our negotiated price we would still take the car after it was fixed. The salesman took it to his general manager who agreed, and the deal was done.
Why We Got It
Lexus stormed the castle when it entered the U.S. market with a sedan that stepped over the largely irrelevant domestic competition and set the Germans back on their heels. Since then, Lexus has not been able to wedge very far into the sport sedan segment. Whether it was the IS compact sedan, the GS midsize or the even larger LS sedan, none of them had much draw for enthusiasts. Lexus was always too soft, too bland and too disconnected to make those who label themselves "drivers" swoon.
In our road test we wrote, "The 2013 Lexus GS 350, F Sport in particular, is an impressive redesign. It's a Lexus that driving enthusiasts can get excited about. More than just promises, it's actually fun to drive. And unlike the IS F, the GS 350 F Sport's adjustable suspension won't punish you for the performance it brings. It can do smooth and quiet, or serious and sporty: your choice."
Those are big promises, and we put our money where our mouth is. We've got 12 months with the GS 350 to see if these feelings hold true for the long run or if this, like other Lexuses of the past, fails to tick our emotional boxes. Follow along on our Long-Term Road Test Blog for updates on this and the rest of our Long-Term fleet.
Current Odometer: 1,091
Best Fuel Economy: 21.3
Worst Fuel Economy: 18.1
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 19.8
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.