Road Test: 2017 Lexus GS350 F-Sport

Modern classic luxury–three words that summarize the Lexus GS350 F-Sport in a nutshell.

The Lexus GS features a variation of the Lexus signature spindle grille, framed by satin chrome trim and flanked by distinctive standard Bi-LED headlights. Nighttime illumination is spectacular, and the automatic high beam feature works perfectly.

In the colors department, Lexus says all of the GS350’s Mica colors use an very complex multi-layered, twice-baked process previously used only for concept vehicles or custom cars.

Under the hood, the muscular 3.5-liter V6 produces 311 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque and is paired to a 6-speed automatic on our AWD tester (8-sp on RWD). The engine’s combination of direct fuel injection and sequential port fuel injectors provides instantaneous ample power and crisp responsiveness. Fuel economy is rated 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined and we averaged 25 throughout a week of commuting.

What makes the driving experience so great is that the car uses an electronically controlled center differential which provides a normal 30:70 torque split, with the rear-wheel bias favoring handling agility. The system reacts instantaneously to alter the split to as much as 50:50, depending on driving conditions, to help optimize traction.

For added grins when driving, the F-SPORT package combines track-tuned chassis enhancements with exclusive exterior and interior design features. It’s hard to believe this is a large sedan because it handles like its on rails, providing significant steering feedback and a controlled ride when Sport or Sport+ driving modes are engaged.

The GS cabin is comfortable and intuitive. Naguri aluminum spans across the dash and doors. The analog clock in the center of the dash is housed in a single piece of aluminum with LED indicators, and uses GPS for adjusting the time zone. We especially like the detailing in how the climate control temperature displays roll the digits up and down much like a mechanical system from the past did.

10-way power front seats, a 12.3-inch center screen, power tilt-and-telescoping steering column with automatic tilt-away, and a Lexus 12-speaker, 5.1 surround sound system are included on our GS350 F-Sport. The supply and supportive front seats are wonderful to sit in for long trips.

Lexus’ infotainment system is easier to use with the larger screen and Remote Touch Interface controller that’s similar to a mouse. We liked the crispness of the graphics and color choices.

Luxury is all about taking it one step further, and Lexus does with Enform Service Connect. The system connects to emergency services if needed, and can send alerts for specific factory recommended maintenance, while simultaneously alerting a preferred Lexus retailer. With Lexus Enform Remote, a mobile app allows remote door lock/unlock, remote start/stop for the engine and climate control; vehicle finder, guest driver monitor and more.

Speaking of safety, Lexus Safety System+ is now standard and combines Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam (IHB) and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

Radar Cruise Control works very well, if a bit on the cautious side, and we’d like to see settings for adjusting the responsiveness of the system in the future like other automakers do. Otherwise, we enjoyed using the system during daily commutes.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 10
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 10
Noise 10
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 10
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 9
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score  99

Make: Lexus
Model: GS350
Trim Level: AWD F-Sport
Engine: 3.5L V6
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: Cold Weather Pkg, Mark Levinson Sound, Heads Up Display, Power Trunk, Park Assist, Illuminated Door Sills

Base Price: $56,555
As-Tested Price: $61,950

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