Auto Review: From concept to driveway

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Wed., Oct. 3, 2012
- Contributed Photo

In the spring of 2011, I attended a Lexus function associated with the New York International Auto Show, where the LF-Gh Hybrid Concept was displayed to a variety of press and industry representatives. The bold, futuristic lines of this sport sedan were certainly eye-catching, but as this was a design exercise, it was not something we were necessarily expecting to see in a showroom anytime soon. Little did I realize I was seeing the stylistic backbone of the next Lexus GS. Now that the 2013 model is here, the resemblance is kind of amazing, given the aggressive nature of the concept’s bodywork. But as we’ve seen the last few years, more and more concept cars turn out to be thinly-disguised versions of production models that are just around the corner.

And in the case of the 2013 Lexus GS 350 AWD we review this week, it shares the overall styling direction found in the LF-Gh Hybrid Concept, but in my view is more attractive and balanced in overall execution than the show car. But this fetching new sedan isn’t just boasting new bodywork, for the entire GS range is redesigned to create an exceptional sport-oriented drive experience (while still coddling the occupants in typical Lexus fashion). It also showcases the latest safety and entertainment technology, and sets a high standard for build quality and workmanship. The GS 350 is available with either Rear-Wheel or All-Wheel Drive (AWD), and is powered by a strong, refined 3.5-liter V6 with 306 horsepower (a Hybrid version, the GS 450h, is also available). The transmission in the GS 350 is a 6-Speed Sequential Automatic with paddle manual shifters and (incorporated with engine tuning and suspension settings) includes Eco, Normal, Sport S, Sport S+ and Snow modes. The smooth engine, crisp-shifting gearbox and AWD make the GS both quick (we observed 0-60 in 6.5 seconds) and very sure-footed. The Variable Ratio Steering is responsive, with good road feel and well-weighted for both aggressive driving and tight parking maneuvers. Braking performance is sport sedan-worthy, with excellent power and strong, progressive feel. The host of advanced safety features on our tester included a Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and a Driver Attention Monitor.

The new GS interior does a great job of integrating excellent materials and workmanship, with elaborate sound and navigation systems, so they are more usable than distracting. Support and comfort are excellent in the front seats, and Lexus explains, “The new GS has more rear headroom, knee room, legroom and foot space than the previous GS, while front and rear door openings have been revised for easier ingress and egress.” Indeed, rear seat room is good, with lots of creature comforts and even the trunk is larger, with 14.3 cubic feet of space.

Sporty performance, luxury and the latest in technology all wrapped in a truly handsome, contemporary package... what’s not to love? The 2013 Lexus GS 350 AWD is EPA-rated 21 MPG city/ 26 highway. With the optional Luxury package, our sticker came to $63,232.

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