2013 Lexus GS350 / GS350 F Sport / GS450h Hybrid – First Drive Review

Lexus wants us to believe that the 2013 GS is a different car from its predecessor—an evolved car, a bona fide sports sedan. As we poked, prodded, and drove the new GS350 and GS350 F Sport, we felt a bit like a parole officer trying to discern if our charge had truly changed its ways. Is the GS still an offender?

A clear outward sign of change is the GS’s exterior. Like most new cars with sporting pretensions, the GS has LED flourishes surrounding the headlamps (LED headlights are optional), a small amount of chrome, and a scowling front fascia. Opt for the F Sport version, and the wheels and the front-end scowl get larger. Although its wheelbase is the same as the 2011 model’s, the new GS is 0.7 inch wider and 0.7 inch longer than before. As the first production vehicle to receive Lexus’s new L-finesse styling, the GS isn’t immediately identifiable as a Lexus. It’s more aggressive than Lexuses of the past and reminds us a bit of an Infiniti.

Refined for the Traditional Lexus Buyer, Enlivened for the Rest of Us

If the GS looks a little like an Infiniti, it’s even more Infiniti-esque in its personality. Even the GS350 equipped with the Luxury package has a solid and direct feel, but there isn’t a sacrifice in ride comfort or practicality. Up front, aluminum control arms and knuckles lighten up the suspension, and the rear springs and shocks are now separate, which opens up more trunk space. It doesn’t take long to realize that the ride of the GS seems more elastic and compliant than before. Even the F Sport version, with its stiffer suspension and 19-inch wheels, is civilized. Chassis and road noise are kept in the distance, but engine sounds are brought to the forefront. Work the V-6 hard, and a resonator on the intake tract funnels the motor’s growls and snarls toward the cabin. The sound livens the experience without giving up much refinement. And if you’re the type of Lexus buyer who never stomps on the throttle, the engine will never raise its voice above a whisper.

 

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