The adaptive variable front and rear suspension aids confident driving on highways as well as in periodic spirited driving.
If you are like me and want a quality car but would rather not stand out in the crowd, then the Lexus GS 350 all-wheel drive (AWD) should be of interest to you. This car has everything you want in a luxury car, all in a fairly compact package.
The GS 350 shares its platform with its larger engine sibling, the GS 450h. But the major difference, besides the larger engine in the GS 450, is the fact that the GS 350 is an AWD as compared to the rear-wheel drive GS 450. So, if you like to head out to a ski spot like Whistler in the winter, the AWD is a better choice. Also wet weather traction is far superior as I encountered this while testing the car.
As GS 350 is a powerful car you tend to drive it a little more aggressively and that is where the AWD really comes into its own as the grip on the pavement is superb. The adaptive variable front and rear suspension aids confident driving on highways as well as in periodic spirited driving. The optional 19-inch 235/40R19 tires also do an excellent job of gripping the road in both rain and dry pavement
Allowing you all this power is a 3.5 litre double overhead cam V6 configuration with a variable valve timing feature. This allows the engine to give the driver constant power right through the range instead of a more singular peek in cars without variable valve timing or turbos. All this amounts to a smooth 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. In testing up hills like the Capilano Road in North Vancouver, the GS pulled well up the incline. On the open road, the car is quick but very stable, which I really liked.
Transferring that power to the road is a six-speed sport transmission that shifted and downshifted very well even when pulling up hills or on the highway.
As you might suspect with a Lexus, the car is well-appointed with excellent adjustable front seating as well as good rear seating with adequate leg room. The leather (optional F-Sport) seating surfaces seems soft but durable for the long run which can be a letdown a few years down the road. One feature I liked is the dual heating and cooling climate control for the front passengers as my wife and I never agree on a temperature when driving any distance. Back seat passengers are treated to heating ducts as well.
My test car was optioned with the F-Sport-2 package which added a few more features to the car. This included a rear power sunshade for backseat passengers and a top end 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system just to name a few.
On the practical side of things, the car is equipped with multiple strategically placed air-bags for collision safety as well as cruise control that detects a slower moving vehicle and lowers your speed to avoid a collision. The truck has plenty of room to swallow an average family of four’s luggage or at least two sets of golf clubs.
My only criticism of the Lexus GS, or for that matter most of the line, is that they all basically look the same. But short of this, these cars have proven over the years to be solid and reliable vehicles. I was amazed at how many older Lexus models I still see on the road. Someone who worked for Lexus/Toyota said that they overbuild their cars so they will last and really please the owner. Seeing how well-equipped my test car was at $70,671, it is worth considering when looking for a quality luxury car.
MSRP: Base $60,071, as tested $70,671.25
Motor: 3.5-litre double overhead cam V6
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 12.4 L/100 km city and 9.2 L/100 km highway