Flaxen brown soft leather seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, hallmark Lexus interior, and innovative features make driving a GS 350 a wonderful adventure.
SmartAccess keyless entry with push-button Start/Stop gets you inside and ready to go as you settle into the 10-way adjustable power front seats. Ambient lighting and Climate Concierge cater to individual comfort, and heated and optional ventilated front seats enhances an excellent Lexus experience.
Performance is provided by a 3.5 L V8 engine with direct and port injection. Power is quantified as 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque max, routed through an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Drive mode selection and front independent double-wishbone together with independent multi-link rear suspension guarantee stress-free economic driving. Lexus competes very well against German models.
Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg city and 29 highway. I averaged 25 mpg over the course of the drive.
The test GS was equipped with a Luxury Premium Audio System (17-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound), Advanced Voice Recognition, DVD/CD Player, Bluetooth technology and Remote Touch. SiriusXM Satellite Radio with iTunes tagging, traffic and weather were all standard.
For safety, the GS features a standard backup camera, plus Lexus Enform with Safety Connect—a subscription-based telematics service. Components of Safety Connect—Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), and Enhanced Roadside Assistance—are not just convenient features, but could be life-saving, and Lexus provides a one-year trial subscription with the vehicle.
Weather, terrain and road surface can change in a moment without notification or warning. The GS 350 has an available all-wheel drive system called All-Weather-Drive that monitors the current driving conditions, and automatically allocates engine power between the front and rear wheels from a rear-biased 30/70 (Front-rear) torque split up to 50/50, depending on conditions. This can provide enhanced traction and control on a wide range of road surfaces and under inclement weather. Although my vehicle didn’t have all-wheel drive, this is a suggested feature for a cold climate and reason for AWD.
The very best feature was the navigation system, which is standard on the GS 350. This navigation has a 12.3-inch high resolution split-screen multimedia display. Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming are supported, as expected in this class of vehicles, and a one-year trial subscription to Lexus Enform Destinations is also included. The color map and easy-to-see icons on the high resolution screen were perfect. No guessing where your location is, nor any problem trying to discern where you need to go or how to get there.
Lexus offers a Luxury Package with a $5,595 price sticker, and it is comprised of numerous quality comfort items such 18-way power front seats, Climate Concierge, Lexus Memory System, Adaptive Front Lighting System, Adaptive Variable Suspension, manual rear-door sunshades, power rear sunshade, and rear seat climate and audio controls. There are also eye-pleasing items like 18-inch split 9-spoke alloy wheels with superchrome finish, wood and leather trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and Linear Expresso Wood interior trim.
The smell of leather rising from the wide leather seats, advanced technologies at your fingertips, great leg and shoulder room front and back, and the power to put wind in your hair and a smile on your face describes GS 350. The beauty is not cosmetic, but rather a rich quality bred in the DNA of a great luxury car.
MSRP for the GS 350 RWD is $48,600.
4-year/50,000-mile Basic Warranty
6-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Warranty
6-year/Unlimited mileage Corrosion Perforation Warranty
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or firstname.lastname@example.org