Lexus has redesigned its mid-level GS Sport Sedan for 2013, dropping the V-8 engine and the quad headlights it had sported for the past two generations.
But Lexus has added the unique corporate "spindle" grille, giving an aggressive look to the otherwise elegant GS.
The V-6 powered GS 350 comes in four trim levels, ranging from $46,900 to $55,145 (plus $875 freight) - the 350, 350 AWD, 350 F Sport and 350 F Sport AWD.
There is also a new GS 450h hybrid model, which has a different V-6 engine and an electric drive motor. It lists for $58,950, and has EPA ratings of 29 mpg city/34 highway.
I tested the base GS 350 model ($46,900), with an added F Sport package, which brought the aggression level up quite a bit.
The Sport Package is mostly functional, with sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension, variable-gear-ratio steering, sport drive mode, two-piece front brake rotors with four-piston calipers, and a 16-way sport driver's seat with power side bolsters (very comfortable).
Nineteen-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels with dark graphite finish (wider on the back), striated aluminum interior trim, black headliner, F Sport front bumper, upper and lower grille mesh inserts, rear valance, and rear lip spoiler added to the sporty appeal.
The package also includes rain-sensing wipers (didn't need those), heated and ventilated front seats (needed those), sport pedals, and a power rear sunshade.
Under the hood of the GS 350 is a 3.5-liter V-6 producing 306 horsepower and 277 foot-pounds of torque. It's connected to a six-speed, electronically controlled transmission with intelligence (adapts to the driver's style and habits to deliver optimum results) and paddle shifters.
EPA ratings are 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Lexus says the GS will go from zero-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. I didn't time it, but takeoff was smooth and quick, and that's all I needed to know.
Gas shock absorbers and stabilizer bars, speed-sensing power steering, power-assisted antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are standard on the GS 350. The suspension is tighter for the sport mode, of course.
The new look of the GS is eye-catching, especially the angular chrome-trimmed grille, the sculpted front bumper with flared vents, the chrome-trimmed door edge/side windows, and the integrated twin tailpipe openings in the rear bumper.
My tester was Nebula Gray Pearl with a black leather interior accented by striated aluminum and piano-black trim. The seat and back inserts were perforated leather and the sides were top-stitched.
The GS also comes in eight other elegant colors, including Starfire Pearl (very light gray/silver), Satin Cashmere Metallic (medium beige), Meteor Blue Mica (medium/dark), Obsidian (black) and Riviera Red (dark), with several interior combinations of leather (flaxen, light gray or black) and wood or aluminum trim.
A leather-wrapped power/tilt/telescopic steering column with automatic tilt-away is standard, as are the 10-way power-adjustable front seats (driver's becomes 16-way with the sport package), power tilt/slide moon roof, auto-dimming mirrors (inside and outside), white LED interior illumination, and a universal garage door/gate opener.
The driver's seat included memory settings and automatic retraction when the engine is turned off. This feature is fine for the driver (helps with exiting comfortably and quickly), but the rear driver's-side passenger (or groceries or packages in the floor) could be pressed by the moving seat-one minus for the GS350. We had a passenger in that position who suffered this indignity.
The middle rear seat was confining and uncomfortable, even for thin, agile teenagers. The middle passenger's knees were right against the back of the front center console, blocking the air conditioner vents and the power outlet.
Outboard rear passengers had adequate legroom, 36.8 inches, and headroom, 37.8 inches. The driver and front passenger had lots of legroom (42.3 inches) and 38 inches of headroom.
The wide-open trunk can hold 14.3 cubic feet of cargo (golf bags, luggage, groceries).
This Lexus comes with lots of standard safety equipment and offers additional protection as options. My tester had side-mounted air bags (front and rear), front knee air bags, three-point safety belts in all positions (front belts have height adjustment and pre-tensioners), electronic stability control with traction control, and a backup camera.
The audio system is the Lexus Premium with advanced voice recognition, HD radio with iTunes tagging, Bluetooth technology, DVD/CD player, USB plug and satellite radio.
With the changes to the GS, Lexus has a comfortable, sporty, quiet, nimble ride. Including options and freight, the total sticker price for my GS was $58,369.
2013 LEXUS GS:
- Base price: $46,900
- Price as tested: $57,494
All prices exclude destination charges.
Emma Jayne Williams' auto reviews appear in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
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