By Paula MacPherson
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 ventures into fun-to-drive territory. The car is still very comfortable. The ride may be slightly firmer than I expected, but it’s still a luxurious way to get around town.
Driving the car is quite easy. The engine delivers lively performance, steering is precise and it tracks beautifully on the highway.
While we didn’t have a chance to exploit the new high-tech features, I did have a chance to try the interface, which features a joy-stick-like pad on the console. The problem: operating the system this way is distracting, and while it does give you tactile feedback, a minor bump can move your on-screen cursor over to another control function that you had no intension of accessing.
The screen is big and the view of the map or from the backup camera is very good, but I’m less than enthusiastic about this aspect of the car. Voice control is an option, but as I’ve found in other cars, it doesn’t always respond to what I have to say.
Our passengers liked the back seat, though they complained that their view of the road ahead was blocked. There’s no theater seating here. The hump in the floor for the driveshaft of this rear-wheel drive car intrudes on foot space for the center passenger.
I liked that we could specify an “Economy” mode of operation. There is also a “Sport” mode and “Normal,” of course. “Sport” made the car feel livelier while the “Economy” dulled throttle response, though performance was still impressive. Noise levels are muted, but I did hear a bit more tire noise than in previous Lexus sedans. Premium fuel is required; we averaged 21.1 miles per gallon during the review period.
I give Lexus credit with the new GS 350. They have moved toward being sportier without abandoning comfort and luxury.