During this popular crossover, SUV market, sedans, particularly luxury sedans, have seen a decline in sales mainly because folks want foul weather traction in our “go anytime” society. Well, Lexus answered their needs with their midsize GS-350 luxury sedan with all-wheel drive.
The GS-350 AWD offers a typical Lexus smooth and quiet ride. It’s spacious, has nimble handling and exudes gobs of power. Add all this to AWD plus top reliability ratings and the GS-350 satisfies the desires of discriminating sedan buyers.
GS-350 is offered in base and F-Sport performance model, the latter comes with a potent V8 engine and performance tuned suspension.
There’s no mistaking a Lexus GS from afar with its sculpted, chiseled, muscular lines and oversized grille. Its interior is equally as dazzling with a 12.3-inch inset display and a console that offers a hand rest to comfortably use a mouse that controls display functions plus infotainment selections. The easy to use HVAC control selections are displayed on the screen and there’s even a CD player.
As for the mouse, its super sensitive and using it takes the eyes off, at least until acclimating to some common selections. A touchscreen is better but because of the deep inset display that’s not affected by direct sun or shadows, it wouldn’t be practical.
A stubby 6-speed automatic transmission shifter shares the console with the mouse and below it a rotary mode switch offering Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow modes. During full throttle acceleration runs, we felt no difference between Normal and Sport modes at 50 mpg as both offer push-you-back-into the seat torque.
It was surprising though that Lexus couldn’t find space for a wireless phone charger on the console, but offers hardwire receptacles.
GS’s gauge cluster has a driver information display nestled between the speedo and tach and shows operating functions and a host of alerts.
Heated/cooled front seats with perforated inserts are sofa soft and nicely supportive. The interior décor is also adorned with real wood inserts on the dash and console. And a burly steering wheel, with paddle shifters, is inlaid with several fingertip switches for cruise control and other operating functions.
Back seat ingress/egress is easy thanks to wide opening doors. And the seats themselves are cushy soft for two adults or three tweens as a semi-high transaxle hump would interfere with legroom for a third adult.
Trunk space is rated at 18.4 cubic feet for 45 inches of cargo loading depth. Unfortunately, the back seats don’t fold to increase capacity but there is a pass-through for long items.
As with all Lexus vehicles, a First Aid kit resides by the trunk floor and beneath it is a space saver tire around which some small items can he hid.
GS-350 came nicely equipped with a long list of standard features such as Enform Remote that pairs a smartphone or smartwatch with Amazon Alexa, it allows starting/stopping the engine remotely, unlock the doors, adjust HVAC and locate the vehicle in a vast parking lot.
For safety concerns, Lexus Safety System includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning with steer assist, lane keep assist, auto emergency braking, auto high-beam headlights, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and more. The latter is probably the best invention automakers added as it saves a lot of rear end accidents.
GS’s navigation system with voice command includes a rearview camera plus a host of apps including weather and traffic reports from Sirius satellite radio.
Powertrain wise, GS-350s 3.5-liter V6 is a proven, quiet engine that runs like a Rolex watch. It produces 311-hp and 280 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 26-highway mpg with auto start/stop engine technology and a quick and smooth shifting 6-speed auto trans. This V6 really feels like a small V8 is under the hood as acceleration from a standing stop and at 50-60 mph is exhilarating to say the least. It has been independently tested at 5.8 seconds for 0-60 mph which is impressive for a heavy (4,960 lbs.) AWD sedan.
Sport mode essentially re-calibrates trans shift points to hold gears a bit longer for livelier performance. Snow mode, on the other hand, is for accelerating on slippery, snow covered roads as it upshifts quicker for better traction. With 5.8 inches of ground clearance, the AWD GS isn’t equipped to handle deep snow.
GS-350’s ride on 19-inch Michelin tires is unmistakably Lexus smooth, soft and quiet. Traits normally found on full-size sedans. With these comes impressive handling with nary any body lean in sharp turns. GS also parks easily with a tight 17.7 foot turning radius as it slips through the air with its suave 0.27 coefficient of drag rating.
The only demerits go to the lack of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity for those who favor those connections.
Lexus GS-350 carries a base price of $51,065 but after adding the all weather package ($290); 19-inch 5-spoke wheels ($660); Mark Levinson audio w/17 speakers ($1,380); one touch power trunk lid ($490); Intuitive park assist ($500); premium package ($1,760); heated steering wheel/open pore wood trim ($800); key gloves ($25); 3M paint protection ($430); and delivery ($1,0250), took the bottom line to $58,335. This price is below that of its main competition from comparable Audi, BMW and Benz vehicles. It also holds its resale value better than the aforementioned.
So for folks who don’t’ want a crossover or SUV but want all –weather traction abilities and a superb ride, check out the new AWD GS-350. It annually earns top, quality and owner satisfaction ratings.