2013 Lexus GS 350 Long-Term Road Test - Miscellaneous

2013 Lexus GS 350 Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Inspected and Sold

September 13, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

When you're selling your car, it's important to screen potential buyers. First there are the lowballers who offer over five grand less than you are asking and flash the word "CASH" hoping to get your attention.

Then there are the shoppers who start out normal and then get downright creepy. In the case of selling our 2013 Lexus GS 350, this was the person who asked me for my home address more than once, despite me telling them that the car was in the Edmunds parking lot.

This screening process ultimately helps you spot legitimate buyers. These people will not mention price first. They ask you questions about the car and want to know more about its history. After three weeks of little activity and the flakes just discussed, a real buyer finally surfaced.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Alternate Appraisals

September 6, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

I was pretty disappointed with the $40,000 that CarMax offered for our 2013 Lexus GS 350. I wanted to improve on that offer and decided to list it on AutoTrader for $47,500. This was roughly its private-party sales value, according to the Edmunds True Market Value estimate.

In the meantime, I decided to get other price quotes to test if CarMax's offer was in the ballpark. I ended up learning a few things in the process.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Carmax Appraisal

August 23, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Carmax likes to place its luxury cars front and center in all its car lots. The first two rows are always filled with cars from Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes. So, I figured our long-term 2013 Lexus GS 350 would bring in big bucks when I took it in for an appraisal the other day. Boy, was I wrong.

Before you hit the jump, take a guess as to how much we were offered. For reference, Edmunds.com's trade-in TMV was $44,907. Keep in mind the car has just over 20,000 miles.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: 20,000 Miles

August 12, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Our 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport ticked over the 20,000-mile mark recently, after eleven months in our long-term fleet. For the last 5,000 miles, our Lexus has been problem-free and hasn't required any trips to the dealer other than the scheduled maintenance at 15,000 miles.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: New Car Wash

August 8, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

I took our 2013 Lexus GS 350 to a new car wash this weekend. I give it mixed reviews.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Analog Elegance?

July 18, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Is it just me or is an analog clock out of place in an interior as modern and functional as the GS 350's? After all, there's a 12.3-inch display screen just above it. Such a strange mix of old and new.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Plastic Engine Bay

July 16, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Is the engine ugly because Lexus uses an engine cover or does Lexus use an engine cover because the engine is ugly?

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Attention To Detail

July 15, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Here's a detail you likely won't see on a less expensive car. Lexus filled the gap between the front seats and the center console in the GS 350 to prevent the inevitable. We've all lost small items from our pockets down that gap and found ourselves on our knees doing some uncomfortable yoga pose to retrieve them. Well, not in the GS.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Paint Protection Film

July 12, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Our 2013 Lexus GS 350 came with the optional $429 paint protection film. It covers portions of the hood, front quarter panels and front and rear bumpers. It's invisible except at the edges and its installation is perfect.

But is it worth $429?

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Trying Really Hard

July 10, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

The Lexus GS 350 is trying really hard to convince the world it's a sporty performance sedan. So why not build a rear diffuser into the rear bumper valance to drive home the point?

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Automatic Parking Brake

July 9, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Because of a juvenile attachment to yanking the emergency brake to execute big, dumb slides, I've never loved electric parking brakes. But Lexus turned me around with the electric parking brake on the GS 350.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Finding Car Heaven

July 8, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

A few weeks ago I drove our long-term 2013 Lexus GS 350 from Santa Monica to San Jose, CA and back. And on the way home I paid a visit to car heaven.

Canepa Design is car heaven. Located in sleepy Scott Valley, CA between Monterey and San Jose, Canepa is part restoration shop, part repair shop, part car lot and part museum. I can't pass through the region without stopping and checking it out.

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport: Road Trip Report

July 5, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

Okay, the 262-miles from Los Angeles to Buttonwillow, CA and back make for a pretty measly weekend road trip, I admit. Mostly our long-term 2013 Lexus GS 350 just sat in the paddock while my LeMons team, Eyesore Racing, endurance-raced a hoopty in the middle of the desert. In late June. During a heat wave. Yes, we are geniuses.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Dark-Finish Wheels

June 24, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Our long-term 2013 Lexus GS 350 has a dark finish on the alloy wheels. As part of the F Sport package, we get 19-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels with a dark graphite finish.

I like the way they look in combination with our Nebula Gray Pearl paint. It gives the car a subdued edginess.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: The Windshield Wiper Trick

June 14, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Last February, during what passes for winter here in southern California, an alert reader noticed that the windshield wipers on our 2013 Lexus GS 350 were in the winter park position.

He was right of course, but several of us hadn't noticed. Snow is something we generally keep at arm's length in these parts unless we choose to ski on it.

The so-called "Snow/Service" position reduces the chance that light to moderate snow accumulation will bury the wipers. It keeps them out from under the edge of the hood so they can be lifted and unstuck.

But it's more than that, and GS owners in warm climates like ours should know what's up. That's because this raised position improves access to the wiper blades when they need changing.

During my road trip to the Circuit of the Americas, I put the wipers back in the summer position after reading the manual while I sat munching enchiladas in a café in Grants, New Mexico. I took pictures, filed them on my laptop, then promptly forgot all about them.

So here they are. Better late than never, right?

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Off-Road at the Fishing Derby

June 6, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Okay, so the title is misleading. The extent that our 2013 Lexus GS 350 drove off-road was up a ramp to get onto the lawn. So why is the GS 350 on the lawn anyway?

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Escape From the Mundane

May 15, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

I really enjoy the combination of luxury and performance of our 2013 Lexus GS 350. When I get behind the wheel, I'm always impressed by the GS's interior, which is of high quality, nicely detailed and packed with upscale features. And on the move, the GS is suitably sporty when I want it to be (thanks to the adjustable suspension, paddle shifters and nice-sounding V6) and impressively comfortable when I'm just cruising.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Five Reasons To Get the F Sport Package

May 13, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

If I were buying a 2013 Lexus GS 350, I'd add the F Sport package like our car has. This isn't necessarily because I'm an octane-fuelled car enthusiast who lives his life a quarter mile at a time. I just happen to think that what the F Sport version offers is ideally suited for what I'd want from a midsize luxury sport sedan. Here are five reasons why.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: More On Adaptive Cruise Control

May 9, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Our 2013 Lexus GS 350 is equipped with adaptive cruise control (as part of the optional Pre Collision system), which can adjust the vehicle's cruising speed based on vehicles ahead. If you're looking to buy a GS and are wondering about whether to get adaptive cruise control, I have a few observations.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: 15,000 Miles

April 29, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

We've hit the 15,000-mile mark in our long-term 2013 Lexus GS 350. As Mark mentioned before, this car is due for service at 15K miles.

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: Overzealous Steering

March 15, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

Move the steering wheel of our long-term 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport a fraction of an inch in either direction and you're in the next lane.

The steering in our GS is very sensitive, almost precise to a fault. You get used to it, of course, especially if you drive it often. But it can really throw you a curve (pun intended) if you're not prepared for it.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Exhaust Trim Charade

March 6, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

I like our long-term 2013 Lexus GS 350 a lot. I think it's a great car to drive in a city like Los Angeles and it has some awesome trim options. It's comfortable and performs well, but it has some quirks when it comes to cosmetics. As Mark and Donna pointed out, it looks a bit like an evil space monster from the front. My specific point of contention is the exhaust pipes, or lack thereof.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Van Horn, Texas To Home

March 5, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

This road trip has been great, and the 2013 Lexus GS 350 was a good choice, but I'm ready to be home.

So I'm getting up at sunrise and hammering out the remaining 909 miles in one go. I'll get there after dark, sure, but tomorrow night I want to sleep in my own bed.

But I'm still in Texas. I need to finish up here, and then tackle New Mexico, Arizona and California before I get back within whiffing distance of the Pacific Ocean in Orange County.

I have two things going for me. Two things that will get me home by my usual bedtime. I'll gain two hours as I cross from Central to Mountain to Pacific time during the day, and only the last couple hundred miles in California will be posted below 75 mph.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Circuit of the Americas to Van Horn, Texas

February 28, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

No, I was not allowed to drive our 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport around the Circuit of the Americas racetrack outside Austin, Texas. Nevertheless, the COTA track is a big reason why I came here.

The Jeep brass chose Austin, Texas as the base of operations for the launch of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and for two solid reasons. The nearby Inks Ranch has some Moab-like rocks that make for decent off-roading, and the new Circuit of the Americas racetrack has more than enough asphalt and challenging corners for the 470-horsepower SRT version.

Even though the Lexus GS 350 was forced to sit on the sidelines throughout, I was allowed to hammer around America's newest Formula One circuit in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT with nary a speed limit or lead-follow pace car.

The lapping ended just before noon. After a nice chat with longtime friend Lon Bromley, the Director of Safety at the track, I eventually rolled out through the gate and pointed the Lexus west toward home at noon-thirty.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Rolling Into Austin, Texas

February 27, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

How unusual. I stand a very good chance of wheeling our 2103 Lexus GS 350 into the driveway of the Four Seasons in Austin, Texas before nightfall. I'd better, because my first official appointment starts at 6:30 pm and I need some time to relax and scrub the road off of me.

I've never been to Lubbock, Texas, before, and I don't know much about the place. The best I can do is admit that I've heard of it. Saw it on a map, perhaps, or heard it in one of the few country and western songs I've listened to all the way through. *ducks*

Before I leave I take a look at the local guidebook in my hotel and discover this place is big into Buddy Holly because, well, he was born here.

That explains the Crickets senior living center behind my hotel. And the nearby Crickets Laundromat. I could go on.

As it turns out the Buddy Holly Center is on Crickets Avenue, one block east of Buddy Holly Avenue.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Kingman to Lubbock

February 26, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Our last episode of the 2013 Lexus GS 350 road trip left off when I refilled my tank in the morning after a nighttime sprint out of town. Today, we pick up as I rejoin Interstate 40 from in Kingman after some crummy complimentary hotel coffee that wasn't worth the price.

Yesterday's opening stint left me with road butt after the first 100 miles. I spent the rest of the night fidgeting in my seat. After an hour this morning I was in the same boat once again.

It's not the driving position, which is most excellent. The seats even adjust to my liking. But it's the seat bottom cushion itself. It's too hard and drumlike. It seems like it deflects downward as a single unit. It needs a pillow-top like my mattress at home. It needs more cush for the tush.

This is not the first time I've had such an impression (or lack thereof) in a Lexus leather seat. I remember similar experiences in the 1990s. I can only conclude this seat conforms to some internal design standard that doesn't conform to reality.

And you know the best part? I have another 2,000 miles to go. Whoopie!

At least the Arizona and New Mexico interstates are great for making time because they have 75 mph speed limits. I burned through the first tank of the day without much delay until I started to see smoke on the horizon.

Within a mile or two the freeway came to a dead stop. After 5 minutes we started creeping forward to see a semi burning to the ground on the other side of the road. There was no second car and the smoldering wreckage was neatly parked, so I can only surmise that it was a mechanical problem and the driver got out fine.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Headlights Look Good and Work Well

February 25, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

Headlights have become a fashion statement on most modern luxury cars. With each new model comes a new method of using its light signature to define the front end. They sure look distinctive, but they don't always make for great headlight performance.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Moody Instrument Panel

February 22, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

See that blue hue above and between the tachometer and speedometer? That means the GS is in a good mood. And in "Normal" mode. Drive it around in the "Normal" Drive Select mode and the blue brightens and dims in proportion with speed and load. Come to a stop and it fades to black.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Nighttime Lift-Off

February 21, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

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.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Road Trip to Austin, Texas

February 15, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 35

I have business in Austin, Texas next week. Never you mind what it is just now. You'll find out soon enough after I get back.

The 1,400-mile journey is right on the edge of the fly/drive boundary, which means I'll gladly drive, especially since the 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport is available. It has plenty of electronic toys to play with to keep me busy along the way, from the Lexus Enform telematics to adaptive cruise and lane keeping assist. And, of course, there's the Dynamic rear steering and adjustable damping I highlighted in my recent Suspension Walkaround.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Mystery Body Damage

February 15, 2013

 Lexus GS 350

Look at what I saw on our 2013 Lexus GS 350 this morning. I remember as a kid that surprises were good things. Then I grew up and learned they could be really bad things too. This is one of the latter, of course.

I can't tell you how it happened, or when. That's the mystery. But it's there and now we have to deal with it. It looks like the tabs may still be intact. So there is a chance the grille will pop right back into place. I'm not holding my breath, but we'll try.

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport: What's Happening Under the Driver Seat?

February 11, 2012

2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

Something is moving under my butt.

It's the first time I've driven our long-term GS 350 F-Sport. I'm slowing the car to a full stop at a red light, and my brain registers a little buzz or flicker coming from beneath my tush. At first I assume it's my phone letting me know that a new email or text message just arrived. But my phone's not in my back pocket; it's in a cupholder. And a quick glance shows that there's no new text or email.

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: Dual Personality Sedan

January 31, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

This 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport is a dual personality sedan if there ever was one. It's plenty capable of providing a smooth, quiet and comfortable Lexus-like driving experience. It's no LS, mind you, but the adjustable suspension endows the GS with ample ride cushioning.

Turn the Lexus Drive Mode selector knob over to Sport Plus and the suspension goes into full-stiffie mode. Suddenly, the F Sport turns in like a champ. Precise, confident. And fun.

If you drive it like the majority of earthlings, the transmission shifts around 3,200-3,400 rpm, where the V6 stays nice and quiet. Admittedly the power is a bit soft down there.

But put your right foot into it like you're serious, and not only does the V6 move the GS down the road right quick, but the engine gives a much meaner-sounding note. Snarly, even.

In other words, the GS 350 F Sport is capable of giving you whatever you want. Whenever you want it.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 9,362 miles

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Tight Turning Circle

January 22, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

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.

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Marketing Manager Wanted

November 15, 2012


This post has less to do with our 2013 Lexus GS 350 driving experience and more with the ownership experience. I was looking up another local deaelership on Google Maps when I saw this bubble over Lexus of Santa Monica. Looks like they need to hire a new marketing manager.

It turns out that this dissatisfied customer was the only to post a comment, so it pops up as the default. Well, it made me laugh. But just when I thought this dealer had lost its way, it did this...

We received a mailer with a coupon for $30 off our next visit. Thirty bucks isn't much, but it is something. It shows the dealership is at least making an effort. Not all of them do this nowadays.

Of course, maintenance at 5,000 and 10,000 miles is covered by Lexus already. So we'll have to hold on to this coupon for another 10,000 miles before using it.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 6,000 miles

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Our Favorite Caption

November 01, 2012


Thanks to ergsum for our favorite Halloween caption.

Here are the others that gave us the chills.

On the I-405 no one can hear you scream. (ergsum)
It runs off of Prii. (hybris)
Just try and make me put on a front license plate. (boff)
What the F Sport is that? (boff)
It only hunts for sport cars. (ergsum)
This whole "in-your-grill" styling is really getting long in the tooth. (altimadude05)
Clawing for traction, biting with grip; this car is a real animal on back roads. (altimadude05)
The GS 350 is loaded with creature comforts. (ergsum)
Lexus active jaw control (stpawyfrmdonut)
Ripley's mobile (noburgers)
It just burst out of the garage door (noburgers)
Lexus runs deep (stpawyfrmdonut)
Carthulu (ergsum)
Carmagedon (jpnpower)
The relentless hunt of perfection. (sherief)
GS 350 F-Sport: Eats Germans for Lunch (natnut)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2013 Lexus GS 350: You Write the Caption

October 31, 2012


Halloween caption contest. Yay.

Thanks to Mark for making this lovely Alien vs. Predator vs. Lexus photo.

What's your spooktacular caption? We'll post our favorite tomorrow after we recover from our candy comas.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Everyone OK?

October 30, 2012


South Bay is fogged in this morning. It never photographs well, though. Thankfully, that's about as severe as the weather gets around here.

I hope our East Coast readers weathered the storm. I have family in New Jersey, at the shore, and in Philly. Lots of water but everyone fine.

What about you? Everyone fine? Do any of you have car damage? Let us know you're OK.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: Milestone

October 22, 2012


Lexus GS 350 F Sport 5k milestone.jpg

It's been smooth driving so far in our new Lexus GS 350 F Sport. 

With this car's mix of luxury, comfort and sport, you can bet it will prove to be a popular choice with the editors and we'll rack up the miles quickly.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ (you guessed it) 5,000 miles.

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: "Is That A GS?"

October 20, 2012

Lexus GS 350 F Sport front beauty.jpg

I think the 2013 Lexus GS 350, specifically the F Sport, is a decent-looking machine. Of course, a car's styling is totally subjective.

But (why is there always a "but?"), the 2013 model is missing something...

It's missing a distinctive "GS-ness." Like Michael Jordan, I too think the second-gen GS was by far the best-looking. Not even a competition.

The reason: It stood out from the crowd. You see one of those cars on the road today, and you know instantly it's a Lexus GS. Not just because of the quad head- and tail light clusters. But the whole shape was big sports sedan cool.

The current car? To me it comes across as little more than a meaner, larger IS 350.

Lexus forgot to incorporate "GS-ness" into the new car's styling. And that's a shame. 

But you know what? Doesn't mean I like driving it any less. More on that later...

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 4,959 miles.

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: Blame Audi

October 15, 2012


When I look at the front of the Lexus GS, I think about the influence that the Audi-style full-frame grille has had on the automotive industry. And when I look at the Audi A6 Allroad above, I think about how destructive this influence has become, both on Lexus and Audi itself.

Grilles, bars, LEDs, ducts and geometry of all persuasions. This is the kind of design that makes me want to call in the Haz-Mat unit for a cleanup.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com   

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: Dancing the Bernie in Oakland

October 4, 2012

2013 Lexus GS 350

It's true that driving 1,000 miles is a little far for a baseball game, but then I've done dumber things. The ability of the automobile to help you actualize such dumbness on impulse (as long as you have access to a credit card from a major fuel company), is one of the great things about it.

So that's how I came to be in the O.co Coliseum with the baseball expert in my family to see the A's play last weeked, and they did everything expected with a walk-off home run to win in the 10th. And here's the road report:

Over the course of two days of cruising on California freeways, I recorded a 250-mile run at 23.7 mpg, a 310-mile run at 29.4 mpg, a 356-mile run at 27.6 mpg, and a 274-mile run at 27.4 mpg. Over the course of 4,036 miles, the GS 350 F Sport is averaging 22.4 mpg.

Up in Oakland everyone was dancing the Bernie, a kind of rally thing. It comes from Weekend at Bernie's, a 1989 movie in which two characters manage to persuade a house full of guests that their murdered boss is still alive. A comic dance of the dead guy ensues.

The A's players got a hold of the idea and turned it into not just a thing on the field but also a promotional day with the actor who played Bernie throwing out the first pitch and even a video. It's quite something to see 20,000 people wriggling like spasmodic zombies. Kind of a total A's thing that seems to say, "If we're out of it, how come we're still dancing?"

A's won their division against all odds, so it must work.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,036

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2013 Lexus GS 350: How Did We Get Here?

September 28, 2012

2013 Lexus GS 350

I like driving the 2013 Lexus GS350, really I do. Or at least I like driving it fast, as the F Sport rear-wheel steering makes it ever so much better than a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes-Benz E-class.

But the way it looks gives me the horrors. Since I still remember the introduction of the second-generation GS at Calty Design here in Los Angeles, when the car seemed like a miracle of good design -- the first-ever Toyota sedan that looked world-class great -- it makes me wonder how the GS?s design language has become so garbled.

Of course, it all started with the Toyota Cressida of the late 1980s, a fast car with an inline-6 engine, a five-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. It had a serious case of Nissan Maxima envy, even though it looked like the Hyundai Equus of its day. Giorgetto Giugiaro and his people at Ital Design began to sketch a sleek Euro-style body for the hardware in 1988, combining themes from the Lexus LS sedan and Lexus SC coupe, just then in the design stages themselves.

When the S140-type Lexus GS 300 finally came to America, we all thought it was just a version of Ital Design?s 1990 Kensington concept car, which had been built with a Jaguar inline-6 engine (though Ital Design later officially denied it). In any case, the first GS with its 1980s-style monochromatic paint treatment and unified, aerodynamic shape was an artistic success but a commercial failure, great to look at but stodgy to drive.

The S160-type Lexus GS just knocked us down in 1997, and Toyota must have been pretty excited as well, since it opened the gates at Calty Design for us to see it, one of the first times that journalists had been permitted access to the company?s design studio in L.A. The quad headlights came from the Lexus SC coupe, and the fender blisters and rear wing reflected the concept, which Lexus called ?HPS,? (High Performance Sedan). With the LS 400?s 4.0-liter V8, the GS 400 was the fastest sedan in the world until the latest BMW M5 was introduced a year later. No wonder the S160 was built until 2004 and you still see so many on the road today.

The S190-type Lexus GS came along in 2005, and it introduced a new design language for Lexus that was called L-finesse. There was a lot of controversy about the whole idea of L-finesse at the time, as less adventurous elements at Toyota tried to rein in the Lexus division. In any case, the monolithic, fastback shape of the new GS didn?t win any friends, even though the chassis had been worked over with some serious high-performance intentions, as it would be shared with the Lexus IS sedan. More power, a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive fulfilled the car?s high-tech mission. Nevertheless, it never caught on despite very successful sales, and aside from a introducing a fastback profile that soon became familiar from many different manufacturers, it didn?t prove memorable.

Now we have the L10-generation Lexus GS, and you can see some of the same design themes in the short front overhang and vaguely fastback roofline, while the GS 350 F Sport has a tricky rear-wheel steering system. Yet on the whole, the car seems even more monolithic than before, thick-waisted like a BMW 7 Series only with a more upright cabin. Meanwhile, a zippy cheese-grater front cap incorporates some of the styling licks from the Lexus LFA, while the rear wears a sci-fi bubble. Meanwhile, the interior tries to be inventive, yet it seems traditional instead of modern. This is a car that looks heavy and bland, though it?s trying desperately to be something else. Maybe it?s no wonder that Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda had strong reservations when he first saw the car in its early design iterations.

When you look at the details, the 2013 Lexus GS should add up. It still has a unique combination of high-performance technology that serves the ideals of comfort and convenience as well as speed, and this is what has always made the Lexus GS the ideal car in which to get quickly across town without being exhausted when you arrive. Yet the car looks heavy and plain, even though you can see in detail that it?s packing a lot of visual baggage. And it looks as if it?s riding its front tires like a front-wheel drive car, instead of leaning back on its rear tires in the way that the first two generations of the GS did so effectively.

If I were trying to fix the way the Lexus GS looks, I?m not sure that I?d know just where to begin. Maybe just paint it red, eh?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 2,993 miles

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2013 Lexus GS 350: Road to Palm Springs

September 24, 2012

2013 Lexus GS 350

This weekend I took our 2013 Lexus GS 350 on a weekend jaunt to Palm Springs. At only 240 miles roundtrip, it's not as impressive a drive as chief Oldham's 727-mile trip to and from Palo Alto but I was able to gather some impressions about the car during the trip.

The paddle shifters came in handy during the Friday mass exodus on the 10 East. Didn't have to tire myself out with pedal work before I even began the trip. The seats were comfortable and the ride plush enough so we didn't feel the need to stop midway to stretch our legs but just drove straight 2 1/2 hours to our destination.

The navigator came in handy since we were checking out places we've never been to before, but the only thing is that we had to plug in the addresses before we got moving as the nav doesn't allow you to type it in while the car is in motion. You can use it to find previous destinations or POIs though.

The A/C stood up to the desert temperatures of Palm Springs, keeping the cabin nice and cold and making it that much harder for us to tear ourselves away from its chilly embrace to face the oppressive heat. 

Suffice it to say, the 2013 Lexus GS 350 was a comfortable, luxurious ride for our road trip and I'd gladly swipe its key again.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 2,847 miles

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2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: Does It Look Good?

September 20, 2012

2013 Lexus GS 350

The Lexus GS 350 F Sport is a controversial car around these parts (what, am I a cowboy?), especially from an aesthetic stand point. I've heard that it's ugly or plain, while the interior draws similar negative feedback.

I actually like it.

The front end has a lot of interesting details -- especially the lower airdam -- and the rear is nicely done. True, it does feel a tad overly dramatic given the rest of the car's rather conservative shape, and I definitely don't need the silly rear diffuser. So perhaps it's overdesigned, but I don't think it's ugly, and I definitely don't think it's plain.

And no "buts" on the inside, I just flat-out like the modern, minimalist design featuring horizontal lines that reduce the dash's visual bulk. It's more technological than organic and I like that in an interior.

What say you, does the GS 350 look good?

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2013 Lexus GS 350: First Road Trip

September 5, 2012

2013 Lexus GS 350

I think I'm the first to road trip our new 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport. Today I'm driving it over 300 miles from Santa Monica to Palo Alto, CA and tomorrow I'm driving it back. Tune in Friday for a full mileage report.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 1,453 miles

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Past Long-Term Road Tests