2014 GS 450h New Car Test Drive
The Lexus GS is all-new for 2013, the fourth generation of the mid-size sport-luxury sedan. The engine and transmission are updated versions of the third generation, while the majority of the 2013 Lexus GS represents wholesale change.
Debuting the next house of Lexus styling, the 2013 Lexus GS approaches with a heavily chiseled front end and a rear that blends LS460 and BMW 5 Series. Although outward appearances suggest a more formal sedan than the previous version, the low, wide interior and seating positions are more sporting than before. Apart from the exotic LFA and the high-strung IS F the GS is Lexus's most driver-oriented car. For starters, the GS uses a rear-wheel drive platform.
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 306 horsepower, more than adequate anywhere except a bragging contest or drag strip. And the substantially revised 2013 GS 450h hybrid brings 338 hp, incongruously being the quickest and most economical GS. No V8 is offered.
The Lexus GS blends responsive feel with long-distance comfort; neither edgy like a sports car nor insulated as a big luxury sedan.
All Lexus GS models are rear-wheel drive, and the GS 350 is available with all-wheel drive.
Enthusiasts will embrace the GS 350 F Sport model, which prioritizes driving dynamics. If you consider the drive half the fun of getting there the GS is your kind of car. If you consider getting back the other half, better the IS F. And if you prefer not to think about the driving at all, the Lexus ES may be a more appropriate choice.
Traditional luxuries of fine materials, quiet refinement and power accessories are complemented by the latest in electronics, communications and an operating screen larger than some laptops. Worth noting are the luxury package's front seats that compete with the best in class. and that rear seat space has grown considerably while the exterior has not.
Lexus names the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class as the primary GS competitors; both the 5 and E have rear- and all-wheel drive versions while Audi's A6 3-liter is all-wheel drive only. We think the Infiniti M that offers V6, V8, hybrid and rear or all-wheel drive the most logical competitor, and would add the Cadillac CTS, Hyundai Genesis, Jaguar XF and Volvo S60 to the shopping list.
The 2013 Lexus GS line has many iterations, some identified as models, others as packages. Every GS 350 comes with a 3.5-liter 306-hp V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission in both rear and all-wheel drive. The GS 450h comes with hybrid gas-electric power.
GS 350 ($46,900) comes with leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, wood trim, bi-Xenon headlamps, power windows/locks/heated electrochromic mirrors with reverse-tilt, moonroof, heated 10-way power front seats, three-person driver memory, power tilt/telescoping steering column, 8-inch color control screen, Optitron instrumentation, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, cruise control, keyless entry and pushbutton start, AM/FM/DVD/WMA/MP3 HD radio 12-speaker surround sound with aux/USB inputs, Gracenote, and voice recognition, LED ambient lighting, locking trunk pass-through, paddle shifters, drive mode select, and automatic electronic parking brake. GS 350 AWD ($49,950) adds all-wheel drive.
Options include HDD navigation ($1,735) with 12.3-inch screen; traffic, weather, sports, stocks (with 90-day subscription); blind-spot monitor; head-up display; heated rear seats; intuitive park assist; lane keeping assist/lane departure warning; 17-speaker 835-watt Mark Levinson sound system; night vision; adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation and driver eye monitor; Cold Weather Package with heated steering wheel, headlamps washers, wiper deicers, water repellant front door windows; Premium Package with heated/ventilated front seats, power rear sunshade, rain-sensing wipers. Optional 18-inch wheels are available with all-season or summer performance tires.
The Luxury Package ($5,750) upgrades with semi-aniline leather upholstery, espresso woodwork, wood/leather steering wheel, 18-way power front seats, three-person passenger memory, rear audio/climate controls, rear side sun shades (manual), adaptive headlights, adaptive variable suspension, 18-inch wheels.
F Sport ($5,690) upgrades with 16-way power sport seats in perforated leather, 19-inch staggered width-wheels and summer performance tires (rear-drive only, all-wheel drive gets same-width wheels and all-season tires), unique suspension tuning with adaptive damping, larger front brakes, rear spoiler, aluminum cabin trim, black headliner, unique front and rear body panels and mesh grilles, and variable gear ratio steering (rear-drive only). A dynamic handling package with rear steering is optional.
The GS 450h model uses a 286-hp version of the 3.5-liter V6 coupled to a dual electric motor and transmission unit for a total system output of 338 horsepower. The GS 450h is rear-wheel drive only. GS 450h standard features mirror those of the GS 350 except the hybrid comes standard with the Premium Package. Hybrid options (including the Luxury Package) match GS 350 options except there are no F Sport or Dynamic Handling packages available.
Safety features that come on all models include front, front side, front knee, side curtain and rear seat aide airbags (with occupant sensors so children can ride safely in back), pre-tensioning seatbelts in all outboard positions, rearview camera, daytime running lights, electronic stability control, security system and Lexus Safety Connect with automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assist button and a year of enhanced roadside assistance. Optional safety systems include blind spot warning, night vision, lane keeping assist and departure warning, heads-up display, and adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation and driver eye monitor. All-wheel drive can enhance safety in slippery conditions.