2013 Lexus GS 350: Nighttime Lift-Off
February 21, 2013
At the last minute I decided to take the 2013 Lexus GS 350 on the northern route through Flagstaff and Albuquerque on my way to Austin, Texas. The weather forecast was calling for snow during my return trip so it was now or never if I didn't want to drive the southern route through El Paso, Las Cruces, Tucson and Phoenix twice.
But the route across northern Arizona is over a hundred miles longer, just enough time and distance to prompt me to leave Friday evening instead of Saturday morning. My new plan involved 350 nighttime miles and an overnight stop in Kingman, Arizona so the rest of the trip would be more relaxed.
I waited until well after the dinner hour to get started, but a couple of lingering wrecks caused havoc and the early going was frustratingly slow. The roads emptied once I cleared the San Bernardino, aka the 909, and the Cajon Pass.
Out in the open desert the heads-up display proved brilliant, though the same can't be said for the GS 350's headlights. The high beams are fantastic, but I wish the low beam cutoff was a little higher (or, more specifically, manually adjustable from inside) and I really could have used more of that diagonal kick up to the right some cars have to better illuminate the eyeballs of critters that might be thinking about dashing in from the shoulder.
Before I set foot in Arizona I made a brief stop in Barstow, California to check out Tesla's Supercharger station. It sits right behind the Chili's restaurant near the outlet mall at Lenwood Road, and if you don't like the menu there you can walk to a nearby In-N-Out or Panda Express while your Model S recharges. Hopefully I'll get to try it out for myself real soon.
On this night no Tesla owners were making the Friday night run to Las Vegas, so the place was empty. This will probably be the case for some time, and leastways there are two 90 kW chargers here (that may accommodate two cars each) and four reserved spaces.
After overnighting in Kingman I refilled the Lexus at the Shell station across the street. The station owner had a sad tale to tell that came with a warning. Seems the fuel truck that had just filled his underground tanks put diesel in the regular unleaded tank and regular unleaded in the diesel tank.
I was buying premium, so we both agreed I was in the clear. After finishing I pulled forward next to the drive-thru liquor store next door to do my paperwork, which worked out to 24.7 mpg. That's a bit shy of the 28 mpg highway rating, but the uphill-trending run with heavy traffic at the beginning and 70+ speeds on the open road after that wasn't going to set any records. The GS will surely do better down the road.
Meanwhile, a hopeful beverage aficionado and outdoorsman walked up to my car to see if I was there to unlock the place and start selling. It was 7:00 am.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 10,574 miles