The Lexus GS is arguably responsible for setting the performance trajectory of Lexus automobiles. While the first version of the car (offered in 1993), offered only mild performance leanings, the second generation of the car—with its V8 option—really gave the enthusiast driver cause to take notice of the brand previously praised primarily for its quiet and comfortable demeanor.
Its success squaring off against cars like BMWs 5 Series, emboldened Lexus to offer more performance-oriented models such as the IS F and the LFA. Performance has indeed found a home at Lexus and the contemporary version of the Lexus GS (introduced in 2011 as a 2013 model) is the most capable GS ever. While the V8 engine was dropped with the current version of the car, today’s V6 engine has more horsepower than that V8—with even better fuel economy.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Models & Prices
The 2014 Lexus GS 350 is offered in three versions; base ($47,700), F Sport ($53,390), and the GS 450h hybrid ($60,430), which we will review separately.
Within the base model’s offerings are a $1,400 Premium package and a $5,255 Luxury package. Standard features include a set of seventeen-inch aluminum alloy wheels, automatic xenon high-intensity headlights, a sunroof with a sliding shade, a set of auto-dimming mirrors (interior and exterior), keyless start and entry, leather upholstery for the seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a power adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and a pair of eight-way power adjustable front seats with powered lumbar adjustment and memory settings.
The electronics suite includes Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming; Siri Eyes Free voice command for iPhone integration (new for 2014); an eight-inch display monitor for the rearview camera and the Lexus Remote Touch interface, and a twelve-speaker surround-sound audio system supporting a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, and a USB/iPod interface port.
The Premium package adds heat and ventilation for the front seats, smart windshield wipers, and a power-operated sunshade for the rear window. Building upon this, the Luxury package folds in smart headlights, LED foglamps (also new for 2014), a fourteen-way power adjustable driver’s seat, memory settings for the passenger, and rear control panels for the climate and audio systems.
The F Sport package fitted to our test car adds a set of nineteen-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a more aggressively performance-oriented tire package, more acute suspension and steering calibration, a more robust braking system with larger front brakes, a tail spoiler, and a multi-adjustable power actuated sport seat for the driver.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Design
Its look at once sleek and substantive, even the base model 2014 Lexus GS 350 has considerable presence. When you see the car, you’ll know it cost some dough, even without observing the flying “L” logo in its signature Lexus spindle grille. The long hood and short rear deck telegraphs a powerful engine and rear-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is an available option), while the subtle aerodynamic enhancements tell you the Lexus is designed to harness the slipstream to the car’s benefit.
Hunkered low over its aluminum alloy wheels, the look of the GS also says the car’s designers took its handling quite seriously. The fluidity of the Lexus GS 350’s design is both inspiring and enrapturing. In an age when it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate cars because of the constraints of regulations and aerodynamics, the Lexus design team managed to carve out a look—while mildly derivative of the leaders in the category—still stands out as being unmistakably Lexus.
BTW, that was just the base model we’re were talking about there; our GS 350 F Sport test car with its even more aggressive front end dominated by huge air intakes and a mesh grille projects an even more intimidating glower into the rear view mirrors of slower moving cars. Also gracing its exterior are a more pronounced lower valence design for the side skirts, a lip spoiler on the rear decklid, and an exhaust diffuser with aero fins in the rear bumper.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
The polarizing interior design of the 2014 Lexus GS 350 is endearing to some and off-putting to others. The multi-tiered design places significant emphasis on the video display dominating the upper dash. This is even more apparent when the optional 12-inch screen is fitted. That said, a universally agreed-upon nice touch is the round analog clock residing between the two air vents. A classic feature, it is at once elegant and functional.
Speaking of the air vents, they duct ventilation from what Lexus marketers term the “S-Flow” climate control system. This determines the presence of a front passenger and restricts airflow to the driver’s vents if no one is in the front passenger seat.
The steering wheel is thick with a nice heft, inspiring confidence even as it speaks to the performance intentions of the car. It does get a knock for its plastic (trying to make you think it’s metal) insert, (same goes for the doors and dash) but at least the plastic has a nice glow to it. Housing controls for the audio system, voice activation, and cruise control the steering wheel offers a high degree of functionality in addition to its eye-pleasing design.
Classic analog gauges are readily visible behind the wheel, offering at-a-glance information about speed and the status of vital systems. Another polarizing feature of the interior is the Lexus Remote Touch interface. While most of us find it intuitive and easy to use, there are a few among us given to grumbling about its distracting nature. The critics decry its lack of precise control—particularly when the car is in motion.
The voice control system on the other hand gets praise from all around as being one of the more intelligent systems we have encountered. Similar applause goes to the redundant dash-mounted controls for the climate and audio systems.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
The red perforated leather upholstery in our test car adds considerable excitement to the interior while the seemingly infinitely adjustable sport seats do everything imaginable to provide support and comfort. The adjustable side bolsters accommodate a “broad” range of body types, while the extendable lower cushions support legs both long and short.
The rear seats, while lacking the range of adjustments of the fronts, are sculpted in a manner so as to provide good support as well as adequate containment when the Lexus is called upon to do its performance thing.
Legroom is good all around, as well as head and shoulder room. The GS 350 provides quite the comfortable seating environment. While the trunk offers a reasonable 14.3 cubic feet of storage, the rear seats are fixed into place, so that’s all you get.
Still, the interior is a wholly comfortable place, enhanced with fine materials, hand stitching, and rich wood trim. Even before you drive the Lexus GS 350 F Sport, looking around the inside of the car, you have a very good idea of where your money went.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings
Leading off the array of standard safety kit featured on the GS 350 are 10 airbags, and Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats. The GS also features antilock brakes, traction control, and stability control. Integrating the capabilities of all of these features is the Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). The system can anticipate a loss of vehicle control and assimilates the functions of the aforementioned systems, along with the electronic throttle control to help the driver take evasive action with higher dynamic capability.
If all of that doesn’t work, and you wind up hitting something anyway, Lexus Safety Connect provides automatic collision notification to summon help. LSC also incorporates a stolen vehicle locator and an emergency assistance button.
Safety-related options include a color Head Up Display, a Blind Spot Monitor for detecting vehicles in the Lexus’ rear and side blind spots, along with Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning. The GS 350’s optional Pre-Collision System uses the sensors for the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control System to provide early warning of upcoming objects that might result in a collision. It actually uses a camera to monitor the driver to determine if the potential obstacles have been spotted. It literally looks to see where you’re looking.
If the system decides you’re not paying attention, it issues aural and visual warnings. If the driver doesn’t respond, it will activate the brakes in an attempt to lessen the severity of the collision.
The IIHS rates the Lexus as ‘Good” (its highest rating) in all categories, while NHTSA has yet to test the car.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Engine & Fuel Economy
As we mentioned before, this iteration of the GS came to market as a V6 proposition only. The 3.5-liter powerplant produces 306 horsepower and 277 ft-lbs of torque, which it routes to the rear wheels of our test car through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The eight-speed gearbox is a new addition for the 2014 model year. All-wheel drive versions of the GS 350 continue to employ the six-speed.
The previously mentioned Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system offers performance benefits too. Integrated with the drive mode selector, which alters throttle response and transmission behavior with “Eco”, “Normal”, and sport settings, the VDIM adds a sport-plus setting to the dial and sets the suspension, steering, and stability control systems for more aggressive driving.
The EPA says to expect 19 miles per gallon in the city, 29 on the highway, and 23 combined.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
Without question, this is the most exciting iteration of the Lexus GS ever offered. It sounds wonderful, accelerates with considerable purpose, and brakes and turns with a high degree of athleticism. The 2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport is a world-class sport sedan, easily capable of taking on all comers. Acceleration to 60 from rest takes just over five seconds, which is very competitive for its class. Running the quarter in just over 14 seconds, it's firmly in the hunt alongside the BMW 5 Series, Audi’s A7, and Infiniti's Q70.
Happily, even with all of that dynamic ability, the GS 350 F Sport still manages to live up the reputation Lexus has established of providing a smooth and comfortable ride. Yes, the electronic steering could be more communicative in terms of the feedback it provides the driver, but it is highly responsive and confidence inspiring. This is a car does exactly what you expect it to do, when you expect it to do it.
Our rear-drive F Sport tester was also set up with the rear-steer option, which helps it track through corners with more precision. How much more, we’re at a loss to say as we haven’t driven the car without it. We’ve seen varying reports on it however with some saying it’s well worth the $1,700 Lexus charges for it. Our advice would be to try it before you buy it to see if it’s right for you.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
If any car could ever be said to be well-rounded, it is certainly the 2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport. Powerful, agile, luxurious, and (if past its prologue) exceptionally reliable, the Lexus is a very compelling choice for the enthusiast driver.
Yes, the Germans do still best the Lexus in the cachet department, but for those in the know, the GS 350 F Sport represents an excellent value.
Bottom line, we like it.
2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
Pros: Solid build quality, strong performance story, equally compelling luxury quotient
Cons: Interior design is a bit polarizing, as is the Remote Touch interface