Here at Top Speed we are about more than just stripped down high performance racers, despite the name we too are suckers for a little luxury, especially when it comes at a reasonable price. It turns out that our Verdigris Mica Lexus GS 350 was one of the best sedans we have driven in a long time. This Lexus sports coupe is equipped with a level of performance and comfort that is currently unmatched by any other automaker offering a product in the same price category.
At just over $45,000, the Lexus GS 350 is a lot of car for the money, being both luxurious and stylish inside and out. The body is adorned with an attractive fast back roof line and comes with upscale details like HID headlamps and chrome accents on the exterior while rolling around on a set of fashionable 17 inch rims. On the inside, the Lexus features elegant wood trim and soft leather wrapped seats, shifter and steering wheel as well as a very forward thinking 7 inch touch screen display.
Our GS 350 is powered by a 3.5 Liter V6 that sends 303 HP straight to the rear wheels through a fuel efficient electronically controlled transmission that when combined with direct gasoline injection and continuously variable valve timing with intelligence gets 19 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. Either way you look at it, the GS 350 provides its owners with a very complete luxury vehicle experience.
From the outside, our Verdigris Mica colored Lexus GS 350 looks like a world-class sports sedan, from its sport back roof line to the sloping C pillar and a shortened trunk overhang the GS350 is both a stylish and sophisticated vehicle. If the trunk were any shorter we would have to claim the GS as the original four door coupe. The GS is the kind of vehicle that looks just as good in front of the opera house as it does cruising down the highway.
It was only after spending some time with the GS 350 that Lexus lent us to fully appreciate the large wraparound front headlamps and rear taillights that give the sports sedan a modern look, the long body and low stance only emphasizes the sporty nature of the design while the rounded full figured body makes the most of available interior space and aerodynamic fluidity.
The elegant design is accentuated by the tasteful touches like the HID headlamps and 17 inch multi spoke alloys wrapped in 225/50 series high performance rubber. Lexus even incorporated chrome accents on the grill, door handles and window surround, however the one touch buttons that are supposed to unlock the vehicle can be a bit tricky to operate.
The interior of our GS 350 was as nicely finished as the exterior, and was as comfortable as any automobile we have driven lately. The seats were wrapped in supple and luxurious leather, the gauge cluster light up brightly thanks to the Electronic Chromatic Device Instrumentation and incorporated into the large wood trimmed center stack is a huge 7 inch touch screen LCD display that replaces all the knobs and buttons that it would normally take to control everything from the radio and climate to navigation functions. Although it is attractive, the unit can be one of the most confusing interfaces on the market for a first time user.
The driving compartment is filled with creature comforts like a push button starter and comfortable controls like a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. One of the more impressive attributes of our Lexus is the one-touch window, which will go either up or down with only the tap of the switch. Unlike most cars where this feature is only offered on the driver’s door, the GS 350 works with all four.
Lexus is not trying to alienate any of their older clients so that is why the 10 speaker AM/FM/XM stereo system includes a cassette deck along with the 6 disk in dash CD changer and a miniplug to allow their younger family members to hook up an MP3 player to the car’s audio system. Despite our complaints about how difficult the car’s electronic interface is to control, the intelligent navigation system works wonders seamlessly finding alternate routes when coming up on unforeseen traffic. One of the things that we have noticed after driving this particular GS is that if you take care of a Lexus properly, the interior can look as good as it did when it left the showroom for at least a decade, but when treated a bit rough there is something about the materials that the design team has chosen being so thin that they scar easily. Either way, our GS had one of the softest, most comfortable and luxurious interiors that we had seen in a long time, it was almost like something that you would expect to pay almost twice as much for.
The Lexus GS seems like a bargain and is appropriately priced at around $45,000 for our 3.5 Liter V6 equipped version. The 24 valve VVT-i is not all about comfort, with a maximum output of 303 HP our GS 350 packed quite a bit of get up and go. However all out performance wasn’t on the GS deign team’s mind either, it is quite a fuel efficient package thanks in part to the continuously variable valve timing and direct gasoline injection, but it is the fuel economy minded electronically controlled transmission that makes the biggest impact on efficiency, returning 19 MPG in the city and 27 MPG at highway speeds.
Not only does it go, but the GS 350 handles like a dream, the double wishbone front suspension and multilink rear not only allows the Lexus to go around curves confidently but they have been tuned to work with the gas shocks and 17 inch wheels in order to soak up any imperfections in the road surface that might interfere with the luxury sedan’s ride. Overall, the GS 350 presents the perfect blend of sport and comfort in a package that won’t break the bank to maintain.
Why to Buy:
The Lexus GS 350 is the perfect car to own, not only is it luxurious and stylish, but it is also very fun to drive and quite practical due to the traditional four door layout. The Lexus provides a level of performance and comfort that is unmatched by any other automaker in the same price category. Besides once you step inside the GS you may never want to leave.
Why Not to Buy:
Although $50,000 may not seem like that much for a luxury sedan, it is a lot more money than most new car buyers have to spend and for that kind of dough you would expect to get a V8 under the hood, however the GS 350’s V6 was powerful enough and got pretty decent gas mileage as well. If you must shop around then consider the BMW 5-Series at the higher end of the price spectrum while an automobile like the Hyundai Genesis is truly a bargain.
Top Speed Final Verdict:
The Japanese automaker Lexus has succeeded in their efforts to create a solid sports inspired sedan that will be as fun to drive, as it is to look at. Thanks to a solid fuel efficient power train, solid handling hardware and an unmatched level of luxurious comfort all for under $50,000. If we happened to be shopping for a new luxury sedan to take us to the country club, the GS 350 would be at the top of our shopping list.