If every car company has one division of rock star engineers and stylists assigned to work on the most important projects, what do Lexus ’s biggest brains focus on? The new sport sedan platform is the result of intensive engineering at the very highest levels in the Toyota and Lexus organization. Twinned with the IS sedan, the GS was all-new for 2013 with looks that really warm up over time.
But the GS has always somewhat failed to deliver on its V-8 engine’s initial "Something Wicked This Way Comes" advertising campaign, even more than 15 years since the GS400 made every Lexus dealer a little bit more ’hip and trendy lounge’ versus a ’hip replacement center.’
The world seems like quite a different place now. The GS competes in the most challenging and action-packed segment of the luxury sedan market, the $40,000 to $60,000 class that also includes such exceptional machines as the Mercedes-Benz E350 with a new nine-speed automatic, the always-rapid BMW 535i and the quietly stellar Audi A6 .
The GS needs to be among the best if Lexus is to be successful outside its core niche of affluent and comfort-focused car shoppers who prefer not to own a German car.
Whether thinking the servicing will be too expensive, the image is not right, or myriad other reasons, Lexus wants to expand its niche to real car guys. If all goes well, the company should be able to please its existing clients and also have a shot at some respect in Europe and China, where Lexus is currently destroyed in sales by the three German luxury juggernauts.
Coming in the GS 450h Hybrid or the gasoline GS 350 or the GS 350 F Sport, the 2014 Lexus gets a new eight-speed automatic and some detail trim enhancements like something Lexus calls a ’superchrome’ finish on the wheels. The battle for luxury sedans is hotter than ever, and the new GS finally has some real advantages over its competition.
But is that enough for the 2014 Lexus GS 350?
Click past the jump to find out.
The Lexus GS F Sport’s new nose can really stop you in your tracks. It is quite interesting with elaborate shapes to form the new lower jawline, far sportier lower air dams, and even some mean-looking slashes for extra brake cooling versus the fog lights in the lower corners of the regular GS sedan.
The new zig-zag grille mesh is quite a fun feature that made it from Lexus’s popular concept cars into the real world, and it looks fresh and expensive.
The jaw is tough to love at first. Both the F Sport and the GS 350 wear a deep, full-frame grille that appears to be shaped by water. It is smooth and flowing, but also has structure and aerodynamic purpose.
After a few viewings, the nose really starts to grow on you — even for people who thought it was a wreck when launched.
Despite the LF-A-type vents and drama up front in the grille, the rest of the GS is actually looking absolutely fantastic. Premium, tight surfaces keep the body sides from having the shapeless blob appearance of the third-gen LS. A sharp-edged trunk lid and standard sills really help the GS look sharp from the back. It looks wide, new and classy.
Thinner LED brake lights mirror the arrowhead of LEDs in the headlights, and overall the GS is very, very handsome in profile and from behind.
2014 Lexus GS 350 - Key Updates for 2014:
- Flush mounted sensors for available Intuitive Park Assist
- Full color display added to optional Heads-Up Display
- Available Blind Spot Monitor adds Rear Cross Traffic Alert and power-folding mirrors
- Luxury Package changes: LED foglamps, Superchrome finish for 18-inch wheels, and the rear armrest control panel display adds display option to view radio station and song title information.
- Optional power trunk opener
- Lexus Night View system discontinued
The interior takes a huge leap in this generation, with a broad center console, low and broad dashboard shape, and super-premium detailing at every touch point. Available in a few leather colors, the interior of this latest GS ditches all the previous green-glow clocks, cheap Toyota buttons, and all traces of Lexus’s previous woods. Far too much coating on the wood pieces made them seem fake, even though they were in fact authentic.
Fake wood in cars is the most ridiculous thing, because wood is all around us and can be made into virtually any shape. How much time does GM waste designing new wood tones? Just put the wood in the car as nature intended.
The new Lexus materials boot camp also moves the big L brand much higher above Toyota in perceived quality, real quality, features and comfort. The days of a loaded Camry and a Lexus ES350 feeling about the same inside are through. These new Lexus models are clearly very special.
The interior works well, with new seats and a lower driving position possible than before. The F Sport setup brings a few handy items inside, but is not a make or break thing.
The new Lexus infotainment unit is also quite pretty. This makes it unique versus the screens of the new S-Class, which seem just slapped onto the dashboard versus the deep Lexus binnacle and a dashboard made specifically for this shape monitor.
2014 Lexus GS 350 - Interior Highlights:
- Other optional equipment includes a color Head Up Display, a Blind Spot Monitor that helps detect vehicles in rear/side blind spots and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW).
- Standard entertainment and connectivity advancements include enhanced Bluetooth capability with automatic phonebook download and streaming audio.
- Standard DVD audio and video compatibility, MP3 sound enhancement, 5.1 simulated surround-sound from normal two channel sources such as MP3 files and CDs, and a high-resolution eight-inch central control display centrally located high up in the instrument panel.
- HD Radio with iTunes tagging and a three-month all-access trial subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio are standard.
- The available 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround sound audio system has 7.1 channel surround-sound through 10 channels using a new class D Digital amplifier with a clean 835-watts from 20-20,000hz at only 0.01 percent total harmonic distortion.
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
So, if the GS 350 and the GS 350 F Sport basically look the same, what is the advantage of the upgrade? Huge changes in the suspension mean the F Sport is tighter in the corners than a Malibu mom’s facelift. The typical bump comfort is replaced by a BMW -style thud over bumps and potholes. It is not uncomfortable, but not as cozy as the base model.
The other major changes for the F Sport are in the software to manage the steering, performance settings, and a few other details. The most critical update for the F Sport seems to be rear-wheel-steering.
As seen in the AMCI official testing in the video header at the article’s intro: the big Lexus can beat the BMW 535i in wet and dry slalom speeds. But only when equipped with the RWS option. Otherwise, the BMW will be saying bye bye Lexie.
As mentioned below, the 5 Series also comes with about 300 configurations of M Sport upgrades and sport packages, but that the GS could beat the 535i at anything on a test track is relatively impressive. The BMW ’s all live and die by the test track, whereas the Lexus is happier in the real world.
2014 Lexus GS 350 - Performance Details
|Engine||3.5-liter Quad Cam 24-valve V-6 with DI and Port Fuel Injection And CVVT|
|Powertrain Layout||Rear-drive (AWD Opt)|
|Power (Horsepower)||306 @ 6,400 rpm|
|Torque (Torque)||277 @ 4,800 rpm|
|0-60 mph (Seconds)||5.6|
|Top Speed (MPH)||144|
|EPA Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined)||19/28/23|
2014 Lexus GS 350 - Mechanical Features
- Front and rear aluminum control arms help reduce unsprung weight and endow the GS 350 with enhanced agility, sway damping, ride comfort, body control and steering precision compared to the previous version.
- Ventilated disc brakes feature four-piston aluminum front calipers and are equipped with the latest electronic enhancements to help provide braking balance and control.
- Standard 17-inch alloy wheels paired with 225/50R17 tires, and optional 18-inch alloy wheels equipped with 235/45R18 tires.
- The GS 350 F SPORT is exclusively equipped with 19-inch staggered width wheels paired with 235/40R19 front and 265/35R19 rear summer compound tires for RWD models, while AWD models will have 235/40/19 all-season tires in the front and rear.
- The GS 350 F SPORT RWD offers an optional Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) system with Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS). This newly developed technology offers Lexus’ first integration of DRS; Electric Power Steering; and Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS).
2014 Lexus GS 350 - Safety Features
- The GS is standard equipped with 10 airbags, including a knee airbag for both driver and front passenger, seat-mounted side airbags for outboard rear seats, and side curtain airbags for all four outboard occupant seating positions.
- Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats reduce the space between the occupant’s head and headrest to help limit excessive head movement, and help decrease the severity of whiplash-type injuries in certain types of rear end collisions.
- Available options to help further enhance occupant safety include a Pre-Collision System (PCS), which uses the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control System to provide early warning of upcoming objects that might result in a collision.
- Standard Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) anticipates loss of vehicle control and governs all of the vehicle’s dynamic handling systems –Anti-lock Braking System, Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC)- with the electronic throttle control system.
Pricing and Availability
As ever, the Lexus is immensely well equipped as standard. This makes it much easier to buy with all the good features versus the BMW , Mercedes-Benz and Audi competitors that almost need a special order to avoid paying for things you don’t want. Or things you do.
The spec sheets for the BMW and Audi are a big headache versus the Lexus showroom, which have a zen-like mood these days.
2014 Lexus GS 350 - Prices
|GS 350 RWD||$47,250|
|GS 350 AWD||$49,800|
|GS 350 F Sport RWD||$52,940|
|GS 350 F Sport AWD||$55,494|
Everyone knows that the BMW 5 Series is easily one of the best automobiles in the world for any price. But is it still desirable in its latest panels and boring details? Without M Sport upgrades, the 5 Series struggles to look cool at all.
In the right specification, however, this is still a highly thrilling machine even in the 528i four-cylinder trim at the bottom of the range. Its technology infuriates at times, however, with an electronic lease over all activities. The car will not engage Drive from Park unless all the doors are closed, for example.
The Lexus seems to take orders better than BMW’s strict software allows. “Ze BMW iz in charge, and you must obey!”
The A6 looks relatively fresh outside with the optional S line trim and the new-for-2014 black optics package. It is also quite frugal in its $43,000 base configuration as a front-drive four-cylinder. The quattro supercharged V-6 is the real gem of an engine, scooting the Audi to 60 mph in just over 5 seconds.
Even the very handsome original GS300 from the early 1990s was a huge hog of resources. Styled by Giorgio Guigiaro and powered by a rear-drive straight-six, the GS has always played second fiddle to the big LS - despite costing just as much to make. One big achievement in the original GS300’s back catalog? Donating its platform and unbreakable engine to the twin-turbo 1994 Toyota Supra.
So how has Lexus done with upping the drama and desirability of its relatively uncelebrated middle child? Quite well, in fact. The big GS corrects some previous issues, like backseat roominess, handling dynamics, cabin luxury and tech integration. That is a lot of improvements on a mechanical level.
For Lexus to also have a real style winner in the segment is an even bigger achievement. But don’t forget to add rear-wheel-steering and the F Sport package if out-handling the 5 Series is a must.
But for everyone else who wants a rapid but smooth executive shuttle with the hottest style and technology: the base rear-drive GS (in metallic white and grey wheels) is just what the doctor ordered.
- Looks really classy and refined, nose gets more appealing with time
- Headlights and overall nose design much cleaner than previous gen, despite wild new grille
- Interior improvements move the Lexus past the A6 in terms of cabin ambiance
- If the rear-wheel-steering is so great, why is it only available on the F Sport model?
- Base rear-drive models ride lower and handle better than AWD versions
- Don’t bother with the heavy and compromised GS Hybrid
LEXUS GS 350 DELIVERS IDEAL BLEND OF LUXURY, SPORT AND ALLURING DESIGN
- New eight-speed automatic transmission for 2014
- New Siri® Eyes Free mode, with technology from Apple®
- Standard 306-hp 3.5-liter V6; rear wheel drive or all-weather drive
- Available F SPORT Package with Adaptive Variable Suspension
The new-generation Lexus GS 350, introduced for the 2013 model year, delights luxury aesthete and enthusiast driver alike, with engaging performance that never compromises the brand’s renowned ride smoothness, and ride comfort that does not take the edge off performance. Leading a long list of enhancements for 2014, a new eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters debuts for the rear-wheel drive (RWD) model, heightening performance response and improving fuel efficiency.
Behind its distinctive spindle grille, which creates an unmistakable brand identity, the Lexus GS 350 delivers a powerful yet refined kick from a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. The unique combination of both direct fuel injection and additional port fuel injectors ensures ample power and torque at all engine speeds. The dual exhaust tips emit a muted growl under acceleration, and a hushed tone at cruising speeds.
The available F SPORT Package, which can be paired with either the RWD model or with the available all-weather drive (AWD) system, sharpens the handling aptitude and driver engagement without disrupting the renowned Lexus smoothness and refined demeanor.
The Lexus all-weather drive option is an all-season traction and handling enhancer in the GS 350. Using an electronically controlled center differential, the system can vary the front-to-rear torque balance from its default ratio of 30:70 to as much as 50:50, depending on driving conditions. The driver will feel the result in higher traction on slippery roads, but will not feel the system’s seamless transitions.
Long a leader in user technology that’s easy to use, Lexus has integrated Siri® Eyes Free Mode, with technology licensed from Apple®, in the 2014 GS 350. Compatible with the iPhone® 4S and iPhone 5 models forward, Siri lets you call contacts, select and play music from iTunes®, get turn-by-turn navigation through Siri and Apple maps, and much more. To help you keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, Siri can read notifications, read calendar information and allow you to add reminders, calendar appointments and notes.
The Lexus Art of Luxury
Even with its sweeping, coupe-like profile, the Lexus GS 350 provides ample headroom for rear-seat passengers. The new-generation GS offers greater rear headroom, knee room, legroom and foot space than the previous GS, yet in a sleeker package. The trunk, too, grew with the redesign and can easily accommodate four golf bags.
The sumptuously detailed cabin, trimmed in perforated leather and matte dark brown walnut wood, comes with standard 10-way power front seats. Some competitors charge extra for leather, even in this price range. Rear seat passengers are treated no less regally, with deeply scalloped seats providing excellent support and generous legroom for long trips.
Lexus recognizes that temperature is a personal preference, with passengers often having diverse needs. The GS 350 addresses this situation quite effectively. A first-in-class technology, the energy-saving S-Flow automatic climate control system detects if there is a front passenger and directs airflow only to the occupied front seat or seats.
With the optional heated and ventilated front seats, the 2014 GS 350 gains the Climate Concierge feature similar to that in the Lexus LS flagship sedan. In the GS 350, the system automatically monitors the temperature of three separate climate zones and adjusts not only the fans, but also the temperature of the seats and steering wheel individually. Each zone will achieve its pre-set level of comfort as quickly as possible.
Control Via Touch or Voice
The addition of Siri Eyes Free function complements the user technology already in place in the GS 350. The next-generation Remote Touch with one-push confirmation is standard and enables smooth, intuitive control of climate, audio, phone, the optional navigation system and more. A standard rear back-up camera helps adds security and convenience.
In the new-generation GS 350, Lexus put more control over vehicle performance at the driver’s fingertips with the Drive Mode selector. In addition to Normal mode, the system offers ECO mode, which sets throttle mapping, seat heating and climate control systems for optimal fuel economy. When driving in ECO mode, instrument meter lighting changes to blue.
The GS 350 really comes alive in SPORT S mode, with throttle mapping delivering sharper response and transmission shifting priorities altered to hold gears longer under acceleration. Instrument meter lighting changes, appropriately, to red when driving in SPORT S mode.
With the F SPORT and Luxury Packages, the GS 350 gains a fourth driving mode, SPORT S+. The “plus” widens system engagement to also include a sport setting for the Adaptive Variable Suspension, electric power steering system and Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM). The result is the most engaging GS driving experience ever, yet still while maintaining the classic Lexus smoothness and comfort.
F SPORT Package Channels Supercar Spirit
Taking inspiration from the Lexus LFA supercar, which recently completed a 500-unit production run, the F SPORT Package for the GS 350 amps up handling with a comprehensive chassis makeover. The special sport-tuned suspension substitutes firmer springs, larger front brakes with high-friction brake pads, an Adaptive Variable Suspension damping system, thicker stabilizer bars, a variable gear ratio steering system and specially tuned bushings. Not surprisingly, the GS 350 F SPORT maintains outstanding ride composure even with its amplified handling acuity.
On top of F SPORT, the GS 350 can also be equipped with the Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) system with Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS). So equipped, the rear-wheel steering can add up to two degrees of input, with the variable gear ratio steering system also adding input at the front wheels for exceptionally controlled cornering performance.
The F SPORT stands apart with exclusive front bumper and rear lower valence styling, a rear lip spoiler and F SPORT mesh grille inserts. The rear bumper integrates a distinctive exhaust diffuser and centered aero fins to help control underbody airflow. Exclusive F SPORT design touches continue in the cabin with smooth, striated aluminum trim, unique perforated leather upholstery and trim, a black headliner, aluminum pedals and a three–spoke F SPORT steering wheel.
The Cabernet Red leather interior available exclusively in conjunction with the F SPORT is not for the shy.
A unique touch in all GS 350 models, and a reflection of Lexus luxury values, the analog clock is carved from a single ingot of aluminum for a smooth consistent appearance and uses LED indicators.