Roadshow Video Reviews
2013 Lexus GS350Nice car, but enough to help put Lexus back on top of BMW and Mercedes?
This 60 came up in no time. There's ample power here. And all the users that do Car Tech here at CNET, I can't recall a car that's had more advanced e-mails from viewers than this one. It's the new Lexus GS, the 2013 GS 350. Let's take it for a ride, find out what all the anticipation is about and check the tech. Now this, believe it or not, is perhaps the biggest headline on the new GS. It's Lexus new face, this so-called spindle grill that kinda gathers in the middle like a waist line here. The rest of the car is not so remarkable. Okay. Here we are inside the new GS and it tells you that this car is I think more luxurious that sporty. How do I know that? Because look at the dash, this big strong horizontal pronouncement here. This is kind of more borrowed and there I say it from the El Dorado's, Imperials and Continentals of York. Nice, clean gauges, Lexus did a great job of that great typography. Very clear, very crisp and then you got this guy. That is a huge screen. BMW has some that are that wide but I'm not sure they're that tall. That's a big boy, 12.3 inch diagonal. The map hasn't changed. It's still 2D only, flat view. They don't have a bird's eye view or a 3D or a satellite-rendered thing. I can live without that. To the right though, you now got a fixed second part of the screen. It's always there. It let's you get to your music menu, put up a climate screen or an efficiency screen. Hit the radio button here and of course that brings that up over the map and you got all your entertainment sources there on the top. My iPod is plugged in here, my Bluetooth audio streaming is available. I can put an optical disk in here. You've got standard AUX and then that brings us to the apps. You've got Pandora and iHeartRadio here as media apps. Pandora of course is internet predictive music. iHeartRadio is clear channel stations but if you noticed anything different while I'm touring all these with you. Look how I'm doing it. This is a very different interface from Lexus in the past and a very different controller and it's a disaster. All you do with this thing is overshoot what you want. Now, you can't see this in the video but it's got haptics. That means as I move across each thing on the screen it kinda goes chunk, chunk, chunk and you feel that on the little controller here but it's just so badly calibrated. I'm constantly missing what I want and I'm not the only person who found this. The most glaring thing is there's no back button so I find myself going back to the home menu all the time which looks like this which is over-stylized. What does this one mean for example? Go to my iPod? I can't do that. Visit the Supreme Court? I'm on the wrong coast. Call a telemarketer to get a pitch for land in Florida? Those don't tell me anything. Now, here I've got satellite-delivered stuff from Lexus in form. Sports of course, fuel prices can be handy as is weather then you dive in another level and you get apps. There's a weird hodgepodge of distraction prevention here. For example, I can go to Yelp which is nice to have. For some reason, they decided that you can look at two pages while driving but you can't look at 3 or more like there's a big difference distraction there. It's just frustrating. Also frustrating is the fact that some of these apps have voice command, some of these don't. I can't operate Yelp with voice but I can operate Bing and open Table with voice and the voice command of this call, while it's pretty good. It's still nowhere near as good as my $200 phone. I mean not even in the same universe. This is your drive train mode knob. Push it to go into normal mode, kick it counter-clockwise once for Eco mode. It will dial back to Performance and push up the MPG. Now, turn it clockwise once for Sport mode. That's gonna aggressivize the throttle mapping as well as the shift profiles. And then kick it one more time to Sport+ and that's going to get the active suspension to be much more aggressive and also gonna dial-in a more aggressive profile on the electric power steering. You'll only get Sport+ if you have an F-Sport car because that's where you get the active suspension. Right above that of course is our shifter. One choice only, 6-speed automatic in all GS cars. That's getting a little bit of criticism in the car world because it doesn't have 7 or 8 or 9 clogs. We'll be in the road in a minute and find out if that's worthy criticism. On top of the steering wheel here, check this out. Two little I think they're little red infrared things behinds this lens. That's part of the Don't-fall-asleep technology and it supposedly can tell if your eyelids are down and you have fallen asleep. I found no reasonable life-preserving way to test it so I'll it that they work. The LKA button here in the wheel enables the Lane Keep Assist which will gently tug you back into your lane if you drift with the signal off. Works most of the time. And BSM over here. That turns on the Blind Spot Monitor. That's the passive system. It gives you an indicator in the mirror that someone is tucked away back there. By the way, navigation on this car is actually optional. I doubt many of them will ship without it but it's technically an option as part of a package. Then they got a confusing array of pricey packages for this car. Still a 3.5 liter longitudinally-mounted V6 rear-wheel drive base, all-wheel-drive optional. Compared to the last GS 350 which was a model year 2011, the differences are slim. 303 horsepower has grown into 306, the torque has grown from 274 foot pounds to 277 and the MPG is crammed up slightly as well, 19/26 to 19/28 comparing rear-wheel drive cars. Horsing 2 tons or about 4,000 pounds or more curb weight on this car. That's one of my first questions is would you load up a 2-ton, 4-horse Sedan with a F-Sport packette? I don't know. This thing pulled different directions in my mind. The right quality of course is Lexus light without being it as floaty as Lexus has been in the past. Thank the F-Sport package for that. It's a V6 car without any kind of turbo or super charger on it. But what I do like about this engine is that it's happy to rev. As a result, this motor is responsive more than it's powerful. That said, we have that 6-speed manual in here that a lot of the auto rider can just meer at. The MPG on this vehicle is not great. I'm not sure two more gears would fix that. Okay. Pricing this car makes me crazy. It's about $48,000 for a base GS 350 rear-wheel drive bottom level. Then there's that F-Sport package which we have here for about another 6 grand. I wouldn't do it. It doesn't make sense to put a bunch of go-fast stuff on a car that's already 2-ton 4-horse Sedan. Then there's Lexus mini chunky packages from 8 to $11,000. This is where you roll in the stuff you want and the stuff you don't want like that gastly interface. You're basically stuck with it. This car is gonna ring you somewhere a high 50's to up 60 grand done up CNET-style.