KBB Editors' Overview
By Bob Nagy
- Updated Date: 2/16/2012
A complete recasting takes the 2013 Lexus GS into a new and impressively elevated plane of existence. Now available in GS 350 or GS 450h hybrid guise, the fourth-generation of this midsize luxury-sport sedan boasts far bolder styling, a more luxurious interior, enhanced driving dynamics and a significantly upgraded powertrain. Those fundamental improvements are complemented by notable new options that strengthen the GS's overall desirability while imparting a more driver-focused character, whether in standard rear-drive (RWD) or available all-wheel drive (AWD) configuration. With this comprehensive redesign, the new Lexus GS series appears ready to mount a serious challenge for the hearts, minds and wallets of sport sedan buyers who might otherwise be considering prime rivals like an Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Infiniti M or Jaguar XF.
You'll Like This Car If...
The new look and more sharply honed character finally makes the 2013 GS the kind of first-rate luxury-sport sedan that it could – and should – have been from day one.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Those not sold on the appeal of its L-finesse styling or who still feel that a sport sedan in this segment must have a V8 engine under hood will likely find their happiness lies with GS alternatives like a BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M, Jaguar XF, or Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
What's New for 2013
A full restyle, inside and out, gives the 2013 Lexus GS sedans an edgier appearance an adds new levels of luxury, while extensive re-engineering efforts yield a car that's both more economical and more fun to drive, particularly when fitted with the optional F Sport Package.
An inside-out redesign expands the total performance envelope of every variation in the 2013 GS lineup. A stiffer, stronger unit body, lighter-weight suspension components, and wider track dimensions impart a more confident feel, while the driver-selectable, 3-way (ECO/Normal/Sport) Lexus Drive Mode controller contours the throttle, transmission and power steering maps to make it all the more engaging. Luxury Package/F Sport Package variants feature model-specific variable adaptive suspension tuning with a dedicated "Sport+" setting that increases steering effort and recalibrates limit levels on their respective Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management systems. Adding the optional Lexus Dynamic Handling system that includes both Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Dynamic Rear Steering to a rear-drive F Sport positively transforms the car, making it stunningly agile in transitions. Interestingly enough, the new GS 450h is quicker in a straight line than any GS 350 iteration.
Lexus Drive Mode
Offering ECO, Normal and Sport settings, this user-selectable electronic assist can fine-tune the throttle and transmission response in all GS sedans to accommodate owner preferences. The Luxury and F Sport Packages add a Sport+ setting that also modifies the adaptive variable suspension and Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management systems.
F Sport Package
Beyond adding visual punch to the GS 350, the chassis/suspension upgrades included in the F Sport Package impart an exhilarating new dimension of dynamic capability to the car – particularly on rear-drive models paired with the Lexus Dynamic Handling system that brings Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Dynamic Rear Steering.
The GS remake brings improved people packaging and an even more impressively appointed, better-isolated cabin. Richer-looking wood and leather, and a more sophisticated dash design, convey excellence to the interior. That dash features clear Optitron main gauges and an 8.0-inch multifunction LCD screen accessed by the latest iteration of the Remote Touch Interface controller. Even the base GS 350 boasts things like 10-way power front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering column and LED ambient lighting as part of its luxury-oriented roster of standard features, while the GS 450h adds its own special touches, including bamboo wood trim on the steering wheel and dash to denote a greater emphasis on sustainability.
Lexus' latest take on the L-Finesse design philosophy brings new visual intensity to the 2013 GS sedans keyed off of its dramatic Spindle Grille treatment that's destined to become the signature "face" of the division. Complementing that unique cue, the GS series gets edgier, model-specific front and rear styling that brings distinctive bi-xenon headlights and LED taillights. On a practical level, revisions to the roof and A-pillar configurations improve driver sightlines while larger door openings ease entry and exit for all. Both the GS 350 and GS 450h come with 225/50 tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, while the GS 350 with F Sport Package rides on staggered-width 19-inch upgrades wrapped in 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) performance rubber.
Notable Standard Equipment
An expanded feature set in all GS models is headed by leather upholstery, wood/metallic accent trim, a full range of power assists, power moonroof, multifunction steering wheel, and energy-saving S-flow auto climate control. Your entertainment needs are covered by a 12-speaker Lexus 5.1 Surround Sound Audio System with AUX/USB/iPod inputs, SiriusXM satellite radio (90-day free subscription), 8.0-inch high-resolution center-console screen, and Bluetooth connectivity. Meanwhile, standard cruise control, keyless remote/push-button start, Lexus Drive Mode and a backup camera enhance the ease of owning a GS. Safety elements include the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system with integrated traction/stability control and antilock brakes, Safety Connect with Automatic Collision Notification and 10 air bags. The GS 450h adds adaptive variable suspension and electronically controlled regenerative braking.
Notable Optional Equipment
Beyond all-wheel drive, the 2013 Lexus GS line can be ordered with a Premium Package (GS 350) and a Luxury Package that adds Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), semi-aniline leather upholstery, 18-way power front driver/passenger seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and more. The F Sport Package brings unique exterior/interior styling items, a 16-way driver's sport seat, custom-tuned AVS, bigger wheels/tires/brakes plus variable gear ratio steering (rear-drive only). Rear-drive F Sports can be further enhanced with the Lexus Dynamic Handling system with Dynamic Rear Steering. Prime single options include an HDD Navigation system with 12.3-inch screen, 835-watt Mark Levinson premium audio, Head-up display, Night Vision, Blind Spot Monitor, Intuitive Park Assist and Pre-Collision.
Under the Hood
The 2013 Lexus GS series offers two distinct powertrain variations. The GS 350 is fitted with a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that features Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and the Lexus D4-S direct+port fuel-injection system. The GS 350 is matched with a 6-speed, paddle-shiftable sequential automatic transmission that now delivers quicker upshifts and performs rev-matching throttle blips on down changes. The new GS 450h pairs a modified version of the 3.5-liter with efficiency-enhancing Atkinson-cycle timing technology and the latest iteration of Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive in a combo that cranks out 339 horsepower. Backed by a continuously variable automatic transmission, the GS hybrid earns projected EPA numbers of 29 city/34 highway mpg versus 19/28 mpg (RWD) and 19/26 mpg (AWD) for the GS 350. And at 5.6 seconds, it's also 0.1 tick quicker to 60 mph.
306 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
277 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy (est): 19/28 mpg (RWD), 19/26 mpg (AWD)
3.5-liter V6 plus electric motor and battery pack
286 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm/180 hp - 338 net system horsepower
254 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy (est): 29/34 mpg
Despite numerous improvements, base price on the all-new 2013 Lexus GS 350 remains exactly the same as its predecessor, opening just under $48,000. Although the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) in the GS 350 AWD has risen by a modest $600, it still starts under $50,400. Those figures give the GS 350 an edge in the bottom-line department versus all of its primary competitors. While there are no hard numbers yet on the new GS 450h, which won't arrive in dealerships until later this spring, expect the hybrid variant to follow a similar value-oriented approach pricing approach. In the past, the GS series has not done as well as its German and Japanese rivals when it comes to long-term retained value. However, while KBB.com has yet to rate projected resale percentages for either member of the 2013 Lexus GS family, there's a good chance that residual gap will narrow as the result of its makeover. To see what other Lexus buyers in your area are paying for their GS models, check out the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase on this site.