Luxury cars make you feel special; they coddle you. After a week in a gorgeous 2013 Lexus GS35,0 I consider myself sufficiently coddled. The redesigned full-size GS comes as both a rear-drive and all-wheel-drive model, this being the latter.
All come with a 3.5-liter direct-injection V8 that delivers 306 horsepower via a seamless 6-speed automatic that allows you to shift manually via the console shifter or paddle shifters located behind the power tilt/telescope steering wheel. Everything feels silky smooth, as befits the GS AWD's $49,450 base price.
The test car included a $6,530 luxury package. Here's a short list of what's included: heated rear seats, heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, a power rear sunshade, Adaptive Variable Suspension, Sport S+ Drive. Then there's a wood and leather trimmed steering wheel that also is heated, along with Espresso (that's black and gray) wood interior trim and semi-aniline (super soft) leather.
Where some luxury cars are content with 12-way power seats, the Lexus goes to 18-way power front seats with a memory system that gives you three settings. And then there's a 3-zone climate control system that allows back seat folks to control their temperature, plus manual rear door sunshades to keep them from glare.
The luxury package also upgrades the standard 17-inch tires with 18-inch all-season tires on alloy wheels.
The GS comes with perforated leather seats and a driver's seat memory system. The package simply adds memory to the passenger's seat. The standard seats are 10-way power units, and overhead there's a large power sunroof, white LED interior lighting and a Homelink system. The steering column automatically powers away when you turn off the car's ignition and the GS comes with a premium audio system with voice recognition, Bluetooth and satellite radio.
There are air bags all around the cockpit, including side curtains, headlight washers and the now increasingly standard traction and stability control.
Traction already was good in the test car because of its all-wheel-drive system. That and the traction control gave it sure footing on slippery rain-soaked streets.
You know you're in a big 112.2-inch wheelbase car because the Lexus feels big and heavy. It does tip the scales at 3,970 lbs., but some comparable cars exceed the 4,000-lb. mark, so that's not out of line with the market.
While that engine will push the Lexus to highway speeds smoothly and relatively quickly, you won't feel racy in the GS. There's an electronic Sport S+ system that allows you to dial in the shift points for the car, from Eco to Normal to Sport S. The Eco shifts early to save gas and the Sport S holds gears longer for torque to boost acceleration. Even in that sporty mode you don't blast away from stoplights, though. The Lexus is so luxury-oriented that the power simply feels steady.
Handling is heavy and steering effort is on the top side of firm. GS handles well, but there is some body lean in turns, again pushing the luxury feel over the sport. At all times the ride is smooth and controlled. Gas pressurized shocks and an independent multilink suspension in back help that. Plus the car's interior is extremely quiet. I like that!
Braking is excellent from four-wheel discs and ABS, plus those traction/stability systems.
Gas mileage is good for this size car too. I managed 20.7 mpg in about 60% highway driving. The EPA rates this one at 19 mpg city and 26 highway. Premium unleaded is required.
Everything is handsome and well laid out inside with a huge 12-inch split-screen mid-dash housing the navigation ($1,735 option) and stereo system controls. It's fairly easy to use with a mouse on the console.
Seating is extremely comfortable with velvety-feel leather, and all those power controls allow you to find whatever driving position you want. Side bolsters power against your hips, if you so desire, and the headrest can be powered forward too along with multiple lumbar supports.
Certainly four adults will ride comfortably here, especially with the climate and seat controls, along with radio controls on the rear seat's center armrest. I did not like the giant A pillars in front though that can make some forward side views awkward. And the trunk, while reasonably sized, is smaller than you might expect for a large car at just 14 cubic feet.
After all its options, the test car hit $59,759. That's amid the large luxury car market, so in line with several other premium choices. The base, if we can call it that, rear-drive GS350 starts at $46,900, while the rear-drive GS350 Sport starts at $52,590 and the AWD Sport at $55,145.
By Mark Savage
Courtesy JS Online
Images Courtesy Motor Trend
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