Lexus GS Performance
So far, the 2013 Lexus GS 350 has been compared with some lofty competitors. Reviewers frequently measure its performance against the BMW 535i, and on many fronts, the GS 350 measures up. Test drivers say that the ride is sporty, yet comfortable, while the GS 350’s V6 provides adequate acceleration. Still, some critics say the 535i trumps the GS with strong brakes and better steering feel.
Despite exceptional handling, the GS still has a few shortcomings. More than one test driver says that the GS’ six-speed automatic transmission is a bit behind the times compared with the seven- and eight-speed units found in many rivals. Additionally, not all reviewers like Lexus’ Drive Mode selector, which allows drivers to choose between Eco (economy), Normal, Sport S or Sport S+ driving modes by modifying throttle response, suspension damping and steering feel.
- "The GS350, particularly the F Sport, shows real progress in making a more rewarding driver's car. … There is, however, room to take the GS further in the sports direction, with turbocharging or supercharging, additional gears, and a still more focused chassis." -- Automobile Magazine
- "No matter the model, GS has a sporty, satisfying exhaust note during acceleration but is nearly silent at cruise." -- Consumer Guide
- "This car is fun. And the more comfortable I get with the machine, the faster I go. After a few miles at a safe seven-tenths I turn it up a notch and the new GS hangs in there, responding to trail braking and midcorner corrections like...like...dare I say it, like a BMW. It turns in well and takes a nice set in long corners. Plenty of grip." -- Edmunds
- "I also got to fool with Lexus’s latest Drive Model Select. A rotary knob on the center console gives options of Eco, Normal, Sport S and (if optionally fitted) Sport S+. The two Sport modes firm the suspension, modify steering feel, finesse the traction/stability control and affect shift schedules. If I had my dritters, I’d make S+ settings more aggressively recognizable." -- Road and Track
Acceleration and Power
The 2013 GS 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter, 306-horsepower V6 engine. This engine carries over from the 2011 model, but adds three horsepower. Power is routed to a six-speed automatic transmission, which also carries over from the previous generation, and the GS is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Most reviewers agree that the GS 350’s V6 provides adequate power, but a few say the transmission has some shortcomings. While its six-speed transmission performs adequately, they say it’s outdated in comparison with the seven- and eight-speed transmissions offered by many competitors. And while the GS features a cool rev-matching feature, which automatically blips the throttle when you downshift, one test driver notes that rev-matching only happens if the car is in manual mode.
The EPA has yet to publish fuel economy estimates for the 2013 Lexus GS 350. However, Lexus says that the GS 350 gets 19/28 and 19/26 mpg city/highway for rear- and all-wheel drive models, respectively. Those figures are better than the Infiniti M37, but not quite as good as the BMW 535i or Mercedes-Benz E350.
- "A drive select knob alters throttle response, although the differences are subtle." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Any GS feels strong from a stop, and has more than adequate power for highway merges and passing." -- Consumer Guide
- "The new GS carries over the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine as the 2011, with a six-speed automatic. It's good for 306 horsepower, but it doesn't come on as quickly as the twin-turbo inline-six in the BMW 535." -- Cars.com
- "My only real dynamic gripe about the 2013 Lexus GS 350 is with its transmission. Although it matches revs very well when you manually ask for a downshift, it only matches revs if the shifter is over in the M position. Otherwise the paddle shifters are still active but the rev-matching is not." -- Edmunds
- "A center-mounted shifter has a left-gate slap-shift feature that’s also invoked (easier, I say) by steering-wheel paddles. Like the best of such systems, this one blips throttle artfully on manual-range downshifts." -- Road and Track
- "The six-speed automatic transmission has been revised, it up- and downshifts more quickly and the driver has more control of shift timing. The responsiveness of the shift paddles has also been heightened, and when you're swapping cogs yourself, the engine will blip the throttle during downshifts in the sportier modes." -- Autoblog
Handling and Braking
Although some reviewers complain about the 2013 Lexus GS’ transmission, most rave about the new car’s handling. Many draw comparisons with the BMW 535i, and while one critic says that the GS corners better, others say the 535i has better steering feel and stronger brakes.
F Sport and Luxury models gain an adaptive suspension system, but most reviewers agree that there’s little difference in ride quality between Normal and Sport modes.
- "Speaking of BMW, though, there was a 5-series on hand at the autocross course, and its steering did feel more natural -- and the 5-series hardly provides the ultimate in BMW steering -- and the BMW chassis, although more tail-happy, also seemed more progressive when it let go." -- Automobile Magazine
- "GS is nimble with minimal cornering lean and good grip. Steering is quick and accurate." -- Consumer Guide
- "Braking is responsive and might be the best of any Lexus on the market, although that's not a ringing endorsement in itself. It falls between the aggressive braking of the 5 Series and the more lethargic Infiniti M sedan." -- Cars.com
- "The F Sport is tuned more firmly than the standard car, but it's still very comfortable around town. The standard car also has plenty of feel built in, but it is on the softer side once the suspension gets into its travel." -- Edmunds