The Lexus GS is the brand's second-biggest sedan, fitting in below the LS. Going up against the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class, Lexus gave the GS better handling for the 2013 model year. The car comes in two forms, the GS 350 and GS 450h, the latter being a hybrid drive version.
Lexus restyled the GS, putting more of the design it pioneered in its LFA supercar into the grille, headlight enclosures, and front spoiler.
The GS 450h's engine is exceptional. It starts out with an Atkinson cycle 3.5-liter V-6 using a combination of direct and port injection. Lexus adds its excellent hybrid drive system to make a total system output of 338 horsepower. Fuel economy comes in at an average of over 30 mpg.
Although the GS 450h handles very well, its weight and size suits it best as a comfortable cruiser.
A few details around the car, such as this badge, proclaim its hybrid power train.
Lexus uses an adaptive suspension, which can be set in a sport mode for a more rigid response.
The trunk space is somewhat compromised, as the hybrid system's battery packs sit behind the back seat.
Although lacking some depth, the trunk comfortably fits one standard CNET editor.
One particularly nice detail of the hybrid GS is the matte bamboo wood trim in the cabin.
The rear seats offer more comfort than in your average sedan.
The navigation option brings in a 12.3-inch LCD. Mounted in the center dash, it shows all the infotainment functions, from navigation to app integration.
The power steering is not as overboosted as in previous Lexus models. Its heavier feel contributes to a more active driving experience.
In normal driving, the gauge on the left shows power consumption, but in Sport and Sport Plus modes, it changes to a traditional tachometer.
The shifter is really a drive selector, as the transmission is continuously variable, based on a planetary gearset. There are shift points, but they are programmed in. A dial below the drive selector puts the car in Eco, Sport, and Sport Plus modes.
This controller is a small joystick that moves a pointer around the 12.3-inch screen. It could use a little more weight to contribute to the car's luxury feel.
The main menu screen is nicely designed.
The navigation screens, which only show maps in 2D, occupy the left two-thirds of the LCD, with the remaining one-third left as an auxiliary for audio, trip information, or climate.
The GS 450h's turn graphics in the navigation system are not particularly refined, but make the next maneuver clear.
Lexus includes an excellent array of data feeds into the car. Most of these are delivered through satellite radio, but the Apps folder in the upper right opens up Lexus' Enform system, which includes Yelp, OpenTable, Facebook, Bing search, and others.
Lexus includes HD Radio, with a convenient button to listen to a station's multicasts.
The audio system connects to USB drives and iPods through the car's USB port, and also includes Bluetooth audio streaming.
The car treats iPods and USB drives in the same manner, building a full music library off the contents of each.
Voice command not only lets you place a call by a contact name, but also ask for music by artist or album name.
The phone system offers all the usual features, such as downloading a phone's contact list and making it available onscreen.
You can change the climate control systems through the screen, but Lexus also includes fixed buttons at the bottom of the center stack.
The rearview camera is not particularly advanced, merely showing distance lines.
There are a number of driver assistance features available for the GS 450h, but the most useful is the blind-spot detection system. It lights up an icon in the side mirror when a car is in the next lane over.