2017 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Test Drive

2017 Lexus GS350 F Sport

“Geezer cruisers” once clung to Lexus like an old brown sweater.

While exquisitely built, the luxury brand’s big, squishy sedans felt absolutely geriatric, attracting some of the oldest buyers in the industry for years – my, uh, fellow geezers.

Typical Lexus buyers didn’t hop behind the wheel. They slid in with a grimace.

They never ripped down streets in angry clouds of dust and tire smoke. They tended to ease away from stops silently, gathering just enough speed to match the wind.

The 2017 GS350 looked like a quiet athlete in an expensive jogging suit just waiting to run.

Woo, doggies.

Then along came the thoroughly restyled, re-engineered Lexus GS350 in 2011 and suddenly Lexus began rolling with newfound vitality.

I sure wish they would share some with me. I’ve got a date Saturday night.

The 2017 GS350 I had recently – despite its somewhat somber metallic-gray paint – looked like a quiet athlete in an expensive jogging suit just waiting to run.

Granted, you still have to deal with an exaggerated spindle grille in front that I am pretty sure could be removed in an emergency and used as a snow plow. Pretty handy stuff, I say.

The silly, exaggerated grille on the GS seemed less objectionable to me because the rest of the car – unlike the frantically angular RX350 crossover – glimmered with subtle styling and well-placed lines.

Three-projector headlamps, for example, with stylized Audi-like check marks beneath them flanked the blacked-out grille, which unfortunately was surrounded by equally awkward body work.

From there, though, things got better. A long, slightly raised hood conveyed upscale power, while the seemingly flat sides sported slight curves that kept them interesting.

I could almost feel my gray hair getting darker just standing next to the GS350.

Meanwhile, an understated character line above the door-handles on my F-Sport model gained a bit more definition as it cut across the rear fender.

In addition, a sleekly curved top eased down onto a relatively short trunk, capping a classically proportioned body that rested tautly on 19-inch silver and gray wheels shod with 235/40 tires in front and 265/35s in back.

I could almost feel my gray hair getting darker just standing next to the GS350.

With 311-horsepower and a slick 8-speed automatic, the two-ton GS moves with more spirit than sizzle, but it does reasonably well against competitors.

It also gets 19-miles per gallon in town and 27 on the highway, which is not bad for a luxury sedan.

The GS’ healthy 3.5-liter V-6 has been around for years, though, and now doesn’t seem quite as insistent as BMW’s turbocharged 3-liter six.

Although the two engines generate similar horsepower, the BMW six blasts out 300 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,400 rpm, compared with Lexi’s 280 lb.-ft. at 4,800 rpm.

If you really nail the GS – strictly for test purposes, of course – its full-throttle response feels kind of sluggish until 3,500 rpm.

If you really nail the GS – strictly for test purposes, of course – its full-throttle response feels kind of sluggish until 3,500 rpm.

Here’s where seat-of-the-pants sensations, so to speak, can be misleading. As the revs quickly build in the GS, the car feels increasingly more potent, grabbing 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

That just happens to be 0.3 of a second quicker than the vaunted BMW 535, by the way. The GS just doesn’t seem to push as hard.

Nonetheless, the rear-wheel-drive GS also offers a better blend of decent ride and sporty moves at moderate speeds, turning into corners and rotating through them with muscular grace.

Push it hard and the GS will plow some with understeer and lean a bit more, which can draw a shrill and sudden reprimand from your Significant Other.

The steering also felt really quick in sport mode, but was kind of thick and couldn’t tell me much about what the front wheels were doing.

Still, Lexus demonstrates with the $62,000 GS that it can run with the big dogs – or at least keep them in sight.

When I drove my first GS six years ago, its interior seemed as big a step forward as the much-improved driving dynamics.

It continues to look upscale and well executed, but I didn’t see a lot of differences between now and then.

The most dominant feature remains its broad, highly horizontal black dashboard, cast in smooth pliable plastic with stitching on the edge.

A 12.3-inch display screen indented about six inches to shade it from sunlight looked better than some screen hanging out of a center-stack.

Silver knobs beneath the screen took care of tuning and volume for the radio, while a panel under it provided buttons for climate control.

The GS offered a wonderfully positive automatic shift lever and not some bizarre electric unit.

Unlike its German competitors, though, the GS offered a wonderfully positive automatic shift lever and not some bizarre electric unit.

Also, the car’s smooth black door-panels featured centers similar to the pliable plastic on the dash with more white stitching.

Its black leather seats also were mostly smooth, with perforated centers and stitching on the edges, providing good head-room and reasonable leg-room in back.

Even though aging a little, the GS along with the IS sedan and new GC coupe remain my favorite Lexis – by a wide margin.

Now if I could just talk Lexus into giving the GS another 50 to 75 horsepower and other tweaks, it might outrun the big dogs.

2017 Lexus GS 350 F Sport
  • What I liked most: The GS’ refinement and spirit.
  • What I would change: I might seriously consider adding a turbocharger to the six-cylinder engine and tightening the suspension a bit.
  • MSRP: Base price, $54,910; as equipped, $61,955.
  • Fuel economy: Rated at 19 miles per gallon in town, 27 on the highway and 22 mpg overall with filler on the left.
  • Official color: Smoky Granite Mica.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 3,658 miles.
  • Weight: 3,877 pounds.
  • Length-width-height: 192.1 inches long/72.4 inches wide/57.3 inches tall.
  • Fuel-tank capacity: 17.4 gallons.
  • Towing capacity: Not available.
  • Spare tire: Temporary compact.
  • 2017 Lexus GS350 F-Sport in a few words: A thoroughly pleasant luxury sports sedan that could use a few more tweaks.
  • Warranty: 48 months or 50,000-mile basic, 72-month or 70,000 miles powertrain.
  • Final assembly location: Aichi, Japan.
  • Manufacturer’s website: Lexus
  • E-mail me at terry@carprousa.com

Photo Credit: Lexus

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1 Comment
  1. Fred forshey 3 weeks ago

    Thank you, Terry! Ten minutes after I showed a 2017 GS 350 to some very interested folks, I received your review in the Car Pro newsletter. I just sent them the link to the review and they called back to make an appointment to come back a select one. Everyone I have mentioned the Car Pro Show and newsletter to have thanked me for directing them that way.

    Thanks for all you do ~

    Fred

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