IN A QUIET PURSUIT
Lexus GS 350
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Mon, Oct 19, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By John Grafman Can perfection go too far? Yes, we’ve seen it before when awesome cars are “refined” to the point that all the characteristics we loved, wrinkles and all, get ironed out. Is Lexus flying a bit close to the danger-zone? The Lexus GS over the years has been a favorite, with the right size, easy to use technology, power when optioned appropriately, and it’s even easy on the eyes. The latest Lexus GS Crafted Line doesn’t fall far from the Toyota tree. This sedan is seamless, and embraces the virtues we’ve grown accustomed to from Lexus. And, the Crafted Line just adds a bit more personality to mid-luxury car. That’s a good thing. This addresses any of the consumer comments that the product line could use a little jazzing-up. Even though the GS comes with a 3.5-liter, 306 horsepower, V6 engine, the interior is as quiet as a depravation tank. The dual overhead cam, six-cylinder engine comes with 24-valves and dual continuously variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), and a fairly high compression ration of 11.5 to 1, which creates more bang. Yet, the Lexus is as quiet as a mouse. The lightweight asphalt sheets, smooth underbody, fluid-filled front engine mounts, and even the minimal body gaps all contribute to an eerily quiet cabin. Additional credit goes to the 8-speed transmission with paddle shifting, which handles the 277 pound-foot of torque. Power is delivered smoothly, as is the brand’s tradition. This comes complete with a Drive Mode-Select switch, allowing the driver to choose from ECO, Normal, Sport S, and Sport S+ settings. The automatic transmission is coupled with pleasing suspension set-up. The front suspension of independent double-wishbone paired with a rear independent multi-link set-up is a time-honored winner. All of this creates a silent cocoon for the occupants. There was a time in Los Angeles where enthusiasts had well-paved, open roads, and suspensions of many sport sedans and coupes were decidedly firm. The rides were indeed harsher, but tolerable. The road noise, unsuppressed by firm suspensions, seemed completely normal. And, we relished this masochistic behavior. This complemented the growling coming from under the hood and from exhaust. Grudgingly, we’ve come to realize that beckoning open stretches of highways come by far too infrequently, and smooth stretches of roadway come up about as often as 00 does on a roulette wheel. As life is no longer what it used to be, our idea of what an everyday performance sedan is keeps morphing to keep step. The 2015 Lexus GS hits our mental reset button, and makes us see our world in a different way. At first this exceedingly well-mannered Lexus didn’t stimulate our senses like sport sedans of yore. After-all, where’s the noises and bucking? Nevertheless, after a few days I began to understand that the Lexus GS 350 just makes life better in L.A. The GS is very soft-spoken, and drives with ease, and doesn’t hint at the potential that lies within. This is sort of the Rolls-Royce for the under $60K crowd. In the movie Swordfish, John Travolta arrogantly states, “Don’t confuse kindness with weakness.” The same could be said about the Lexus GS. Hit the pedal on the right and the tiger comes out of the cage. And, like a big cat, this comes on in a graceful manner, unlike a muscle car. The GS manages to pull off a 0-60 sprint in a brisk 5.7 seconds*, and achieve a top speed of 142 mph.* The typical Lexus GS has nice interior, albeit conservative. The Crafted Line series “Kicks it up a notch,” and could be nicknamed the Emeril Lagasse of the Lexus brand. A sporty black and scarlet leather seating trim, contrasting stitching on the door trim, center console, and dash, along with Linear Espresso Wood accents punctuate the inside of the Crafted Line. On the exterior, Ultra White and Obsidian black paint distinguish this, as does the F Sport front grille, and black painted 19” split 5-spoke alloy wheels announce that this isn’t a typical GS. But, this does so without looking garish or trying too hard. The GS interior is well sorted. However, the mouse-like control unit for the onscreen menu doesn’t want to cooperate as easily as one would hope for. Perhaps a bit more feel in the steering would be a plus too. Neither of these points are showstoppers, nor is it difficult for the driver to get used to these little nuances. While the Crafted Line does offer a bit of an upgrade, even the everyday, garden variety Lexus GS is a treasure trove of features including a multitude of premium pieces like Bi-High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, Heated electrochromic auto-dimming retractable outside review mirrors with reverse tilt-down functions and puddle lamps, Optitron analog instrument cluster with color TFT Multi-Information Display, 8-inch high resolution central control screen, 10-way power driver and front passenger seats, One-touch open/close moonroof, SmartAccess keyless entry and push-button engine start system, genuine matte walnut wood trim, steering wheel multimedia, cruise control and multi-information display controls. The audio system comes with 5.1 surround sound and Sirius Satellite Radio. This includes rear glass-imprinted radio antenna. Some of the standard tech goodies include Bluetooth® phone capability, Lexus Enform Remote® mobile app for remotely viewing and controlling some features, and the Siri Eyes Free Mode that uses iPhones for many smart phone related activities. This model we tested has the optional, $500 Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and power-folding mirrors, which are indeed useful. Other optional goodies include Intuitive Park Assist, Full color Heads Up Display, Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning, Mark Levinson® Premium Surround Sound Audio system, Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Driver’s Eyes Monitor, Forward Collision Warning, Pre-Brake and Adaptive Cruise Control, Adaptive Variable Suspension with Sport S+ mode, and more options than you can shake a stick at. Maybe this is a stepping-stone in getting us consumers to rethink what transportation is all about. However, this Lexus GS 350 is still far too enjoyable to turnover the “chore” of driving to an autonomous vehicle. But, that day might not be far away if this gets any more refined! SUMMARY JUDGMENT Another quiet Lexus success. Got something to say? Add your Facebook comment regarding this article here. For more information about Lexus products, go to lexus.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2015 Lexus GS 350 Price: Price: Base $55,070 as tested $57,260 EPA fuel economy rating: Combined/City/ Highway: 23/19/29 Engine: Engine type: 3.5 Liter, V6, aluminum block and heads, direct and port fuel injection, DOHC, 24 valve with dual continuously variable valve timing Horsepower: Horsepower: 306 @ 6,400 Torque: Torque: 277 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm Transmission: Transmission type: 8-speed (RWD) and 6-speed (AWD) sequential-shift Automatic with paddle shifters; ECO, Normal, Sport S, Sport S + (some models) and Snow modes Drive configuration: Drive configuration: Front engine / rear-wheel drive Suspension Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with driverselectable shock absorber damping (standard on available F SPORT and Luxury packages) Front: Double wishbones with high-mount upper arms, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Rear: Multi-link, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Brakes: Front: 13.1 in./1.2 in. (F Sport RWD: 14.0 in./1.2) Rear: 12.2 in./0.7 in. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS); Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD); Brake Assist (BA); and VDIM Wheels and tires: Front: 18x8 in. (standard), 19x8 in. (F SPORT: Staggered Fitment RWD only); 235/45R18 (standard), 235/40R19 All Season Tires (AWD) 235/40R19 Summer Tires (F SPORT RWD) Rear: 18x8 in. (standard), 19x9 in. (F SPORT: Staggered Fitment RWD only), 235/45R18 (standard), 235/40R19 All Season Tires (AWD) 265/35R19 Summer Tires (F SPORT RWD) Dimensions Overall length: 190.7 inches Overall width: 72.4 inches with mirrors folded Overall height: 57.3 inches Curb weight (lbs.): 3,726 Performance 0-60 mph: 5.7 sec Top speed: 140mph