New Car Test Drive Previews the 2013 Lexus GS 350

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Lexus has always been about exceeding expectations. Two decades ago, the LS 400 proved a Japanese company could craft a world-beating luxury car–and now the 2013 GS 350 is poised to take its place in the company’s inspired history. That’s good news for Lexus fans, because the stakes have never been higher.

The latest incarnation of Lexus’s GS 350 sedan was unveiled against
the drizzly backdrop of Pebble Beach ahead of the 2011 Concours
d’Elegance. Styling cues are reminiscent of the LFA supercar and include a
redesigned front fascia with an hourglass-shaped spindle grille, flanked
by twin angular chrome strips.

LED daytime running lights that run horizontally beneath the
headlamps create a distinct nighttime silhouette. The new signature
design will carry over into future Lexus vehicles. At a rare U.S.
appearance, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said the upcoming Lexus GS is one of
nine new or updated Lexus models to hit the market over the course of
the next year.

2013-Lexus-GS-350---Rear-Angle-685x513.jpgUnder the hood, the 2013 Lexus GS 350 keeps the same 3.5-liter V6 engine
but with a slight power increase to 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet
of torque. The same 6-speed automatic transmission also remains. Lexus
claims the new GS 350 will pull off a 0-60 mph time of around 5.7
seconds and have an electronically limited top speed of 142 mph. Tough
luck for fans of the V8 engine, though, as Lexus is killing that option.

The GS 350 will remain available in both rear-wheel- and
four-wheel-drive variants.The 2013 GS will offer three driving modes, including an ECO mode for
fuel savings, and a Sport S mode that shifts at higher revs, tightens
steering and suspension, and eases up on traction control.

Later, a hybrid version of the GS is expected to follow, we’re guessing with the powertrain found in the current GS450h. A high-performance F-Sport version of the GS is also expected, with
19-inch wheels, bigger brakes, sportier tires, and adaptive suspension.

2013 Lexus GS 350 Interior (3).jpgThe interior of the upcoming 2013 GS 350 reflects a shift in Lexus
thinking from passenger-oriented design to a driver-centric focus with a
lowered steering wheel and more supportive seat design for enhanced
comfort. The GS will be chock-full of techno-goodies, including standard
Bluetooth and audio streaming capabilities, in addition to a
text-to-speech function that reads text messages to drivers and allows
them to respond with pre-programmed responses. An upgraded, 835-watt,
17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system will be available, along with a
huge split-view, 12.3-inch high-definition display. Rear cargo space is
respectable for the segment at 18.7 cubic feet.

The 2013 Lexus GS will be available this fall, with all variants expected to be in dealerships by early 2012.

By Laura Burstein

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