Thursday, July 12, 2012

Year ahead looks good with Lexus GS update

Sacramento, California – The great thing about the auto-reviewing biz is that you can get an early start on the new year.

I’m months away from devouring the Thanksgiving leftovers, and yet here I am in a 2013 Lexus GS 350 sedan, the fourth-generation GS showpiece that has been hyped in commercials since last February’s Super Bowl.

Confusing?  Forget about it the time warp and enjoy the car.

The GS 350 has a lot to enjoy, and rightly so with a starting price of $46,900.

Handling is firm and precise, as if an engineer is managing the car’s movements from afar.  The 3.5-liter V-6 with 306 horsepower is appropriately responsive, and the advertised zero to 60 miles per hour time of 5.7 seconds is totally accurate.

Please note that when you are in “eco” mode, however, you really have to stomp down hard on the accelerator to make those aggressive moves.  That’s your call: power versus fuel pump savings.  For the record, the federal fuel mileage estimates are 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.  Fair, at best.

The interior cabin is spacious, luxurious and quiet, with plentiful luxury/convenience features to keep the driver busy on a long trip.  Power everything, 10-way adjustable power front seats and leather surfaces overload are all part of the standard package.

My tester had the F SPORT package, which is a lot – heads-up speedometer/info display, 19-inch alloy wheels and bumper/grille inserts to name just a few.  Those F SPORT goodies added nearly $6,000 to the bottom line on the sticker, and by the time all the extras were accounted for, my ride was just a few hundred bucks short of $60,000.

Yes, wow, that is a big chunk of change … enough to make most of us carefully consider just what options Lexus is offering on its sedans.

The GS 350 also had those annoying BMW-style turn signals where the steering column-mounted appendage does not stick into place, creating real confusion when you just want to signal a quick lane change.  I can’t shake my attachment to old-school turn signals, to be sure.

Oh, the F SPORT treatment looks good, especially on the front end, which resembles something from a competitive sports car racing series.  Definitely a plus.

Lexus touted the ability to link the on-board multimedia system to a user’s smart phone, but seeing as how I still struggle to simply choose a ringtone, I passed … Just mentioning this for you folks who actually know what you’re doing and really like this perk.

All in all, this GS 350 is pricey, professional and perfectly enjoyable … In short, it fits the bill to wear a Lexus nameplate.

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