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  • 2017 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

    Posted on November 20th, 2017 ninarussin

    Midsize sport sedan

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Lexus GS 350

    2017 Lexus GS 350

    It’s rare to find a car in the fifth year of its lifecycle that doesn’t feel dated. The Lexus GS is one of those rarities. When the fourth-generation car debuted for the 2012 model year, those of us familiar with the outgoing model were stunned by its performance, not because the outgoing version of the car was bad, but because the newest GS elevated Lexus to a new level. This as a car that could compete on a global stage with the best of what Germany had to offer.

    What makes the GS special is not just its power: that part is relatively easy. In the case of the 350, a 3.5-liter V-6 engine delivering 310 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift option. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 5.7-seconds according-to the manufacturer.

    The magic behind the GS is its balance. Whether the buyer opts for the rear-wheel drive model tested or the all-wheel drive version offering enhanced traction on wet roads, the sedan’s front-to-rear weight balance is close to perfect.

    2017 Lexus GS 350

    2017 Lexus GS 350

    Power into a decreasing radius turn at speed and its balance makes the Lexus GS ride on rails. The sedan becomes an extension of the driver: all he has-to do is point the car where he wants it to go.

    That kind of precision handling doesn’t come along every day; it’s what gives the GS sedan its staying power.

    The F Sport package adds special wheels, adaptive suspension, variable gear ratio steering with a sport plus mode, bigger brakes, special badging and interior trim. Base price is $54,810. Other options on the test car include a limited slip differential, Mark Levinson audio system, intuitive park assist, black brake calipers, four-wheel steering, leather steering wheel, floor and cargo mats. Final MSRP including the $975 destination charge is $60,305.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2017 Lexus GS 350

    2017 Lexus GS 350

    Over the past week I drove the GS sedan through Phoenix, Arizona and east valley cities, as well as through sections of the Gila River Indian Community south of town. This year the GS gets Lexus’ new Safety System+ as standard equipment: a suite of active safety features including pre-collision with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, intelligent high beam headlamps, lane departure alert and lane keep assist with steering assist.

    The new safety package makes what was already an excellent choice for the daily nine-to-five even better, reducing driver fatigue and protecting tired commuters from inattentive moments with costly consequences. LED headlamps and daytime running lamps deliver bright beams of light to make night driving safer without draining the battery, while blind spot monitoring makes it easier to weave through dense, rush-hour traffic.

    The V-6 block and heads are aluminum, minimizing weight gain to the front end. Surprisingly, curb weight for the RWD GS 350 is actually-less than the 200t with a two-liter turbocharged engine. Direct injection gives the six-cylinder block quick throttle response for aggressive acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic.

    2017 Lexus GS 350

    2017 Lexus GS 350

    Drivers can alter shift patterns for the eight-speed automatic transmission by opting for the Sport+ mode that holds onto gears longer. An ECO mode keeps the engine revving lower to conserve fuel on long road trips. Formula-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel enable the driver to snap through the gears on winding two-lane thoroughfares.

    The suspension consists of a compact double wishbone setup in front and multi-link in the back. The F Sport model comes with adaptive variable suspension that allows the driver to modify damping according-to his needs. The suspension delivers the compliant ride Lexus is known for on chewed up city streets, but comes to life in sport mode, rendering the sedan track-ready.

    An electric power steering system offers ample assist for low-speed maneuverability with precise on-center performance on the highway.

    Large ventilated disc brakes on all four wheels stop the GS in firm, linear fashion.

    Visibility around the car’s perimeter is good. I had no problems monitoring traffic to the left merging onto the highway. The blind spot monitoring system illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. A rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle when the driver shifts into reverse, eliminating blind spots in the back corners and below the rear glass.

    Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing engine, road and wind noise intrusion to the interior, enabling both rows of occupants to converse with ease or enjoy the Mark Levinson audio system.

    Upscale interior

    Lexus GS 350 Interior

    Lexus GS 350 Interior

    The GS interior lives up to Lexus’ reputation for superior craftsmanship and quiet, elegant style. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob after dark. I found the power driver’s seat offered plenty of lower lumbar support, though I would have liked to be able to adjust it slightly upward. I tend to favor a high seating position for the best forward view.

    A power tilt-and-telescoping steering column enables smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view and a safe distance from the front airbag.

    I found both the center console screen and gauge cluster easy to see in bright sunlight as well as after dark. Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. Dual-zone automatic climate controls keep front row occupants comfortable in temperature extremes.

    Heated and ventilated front seats make a huge difference with leather upholstery which can become uncomfortably hot during the southwestern summers.

    The optional Mark Levinson audio system is one of the best on the market, producing symphony hall quality sound. The sound engineers at Mark Levinson have figured out how to decompress digital files to give classical music depth and fullness. Satellite radio is standard equipment.

    Lexus Enform adds an app suite as well as Safety Connect that automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious collision. Drivers can program directions to a destination into the standard navigation system or use Lexus Enform, connecting to an off-site concierge who downloads turn-by-turn directions into the vehicle.

    Standard safety

    The Lexus GS comes with ten airbags, antilock brakes, vehicle dynamics control, traction control, Lexus Safety System+, daytime running lamps, rear backup camera, LED auto leveling headlamps and tire pressure monitoring.

    Lexus builds the GS at its Toyota Aichi, Japan assembly plant.

    Like: A sport sedan with exceptional balance and performance.

    Dislikes: None

    Quick facts:

    Make: Lexus
    Model: GS 350 F Sport RWD
    Year: 2017
    Base price: $54,810
    As tested: $60,305
    Horsepower: 311 HP @ 6400 rpm
    Torque: 280 lbs.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 5.7 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Towing: No
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 19/27 mpg city/highway
    Comment: The manufacturer requires 91 Octane premium unleaded gasoline.

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