The 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport is a car for driving enthusiasts who put a priority on driving dynamics that go beyond the mundane. If you consider the drive half the fun of getting there, Lexus GS350 F Sport needs to be on your list of luxury sport sedans. It’s not as wild as the 2014 Lexus IS F we just tested last week, but it ranks up there with the sport sedans that are worthy of the name “sport.”
This week we’ll test drive the 2014 Lexus GS350 with all-wheel-drive (49,950), the F Sport Package ($5,695) and Navigation Package ($1,735).
What’s New for 2014?
The 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport gets a few tweaks on the exterior up front and we see a new more aggressively scooped and sculpted nose. Other optional additions include a new full-color readout for the head-up display, rear cross-traffic alerts for the blind-spot monitoring system and a power trunk opener. Siri Eyes Free debuts and provides enhanced voice control functionality for Apple users, and the night vision system has been discontinued for the new model year. Other noteworthy updates include the luxury package’s front seats that compete with the best in class and rear seat space has grown considerably.
Inside GS350 F Sport
As you would expect, the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport is inviting and a place where you don’t mind spending lots of time. It comes with the expected Lexus premium feel that the brand is known for. The GS350 cabin has lots of technology to keep you connected to the outside world. This tester came with the optional Navigation Package ($1,735) that includes a huge 12.3-inch screen, Lexus Enform with Destination assist, and eDestination, NavTraffic/NavWeather and Sirius XM radio.
The F Sport Package gives the GS350 a few more comfort features. Because it’s summer we didn’t get to try out the cold weather items like heated front seats, heated steering wheel and windshield washer deicers, but we did use the cooled front seats and power rear sunshade to keep things a bit cooler in the 90 degree heat this week. And the 16-way driver seat and power/tilt/telescoping steering wheel allows any driver to find exactly the right driving position to take advantage of the F Sports power.
F Sport adds sport seats and suitable for the sport sedan’s intended mission. The leather seats are extra comfortable and the wood on the dash, doors, and console add an extra luxury feel to the cabin. Door panel inserts, the instrument panel top, shift boot and the console sides are all contrast-stitched and padded faux leather for a welcoming feel. Rear seats get the lion’s share of bigger-cabin benefits, especially from the shoulders up. Two tall friends found the legroom and headroom sufficient and said the back seats were quite comfortable on our ride to lunch.
F Sport ($5,690) also upgrades with 19-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, unique suspension tuning with adaptive damping, larger front brakes, rear spoiler, aluminum cabin trim, black headliner, unique front and rear body panels and mesh grilles and water-repellent front door glass.
On the road
This GS 350 F Sport tester has excellent visibility which is a plus when your’e driving a sports sedan. Blind spots are minimal and the optional broad-coverage Blind Spot Monitor ($700) worked well in heavy traffic this week. The standard rear camera and bi-Xenon lamps helped as we drove at night and helped as we parallel parked in a tight spot in front of the Mexican restaurant near the trendy Highlands neighborhood.
GS 350 F Sport is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that has enough power (306 hp, 277 lb ft of torque) for a sports sedan and Colorado speed limits. It comes mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters to keep things fun. This car is deceptively faster than it appears because of the smooth nature the Lexus badge comes with. The six-speed gearbox was updated last year and offers quick shifts when you put the pedal down.
6-speed automatic performs well enough
The paddles on the steering wheel allow manual changes though electronics have the last word. The transmission may be a bit dated compared to other sport sedans, but shifts are seamless and well-timed and there’s nothing inherently wrong with the transmission. Others will provide more advanced technology and better fuel economy and performance.
In the Colorado climate this tester with all-wheel-drive is a welcome addition. Even if you live in a flatter part of the country, the AWD option is advantageous for the best performance on dry or wet surfaces. It will put down better acceleration when the roads get wet than its rear-drive counter part. The AWD system features a 50/50 split front/rear and varies automatically to 30/70 front/rear as conditions change.
The 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport is a car for driving enthusiasts who want more sport in their weekly commute. It’s a true luxury sports sedan and features all the creature comforts you want and need. It’s a bit less conservative than the standard GS 350 and offers level of driving dynamics that keeps thing interesting. The sport suspension is well-tuned but not so aggressive as to affect the ride negatively. It has a well-balanced level of sport and comfort for the performance enthusiast who wants to fly under the radar.
Our final score for the 2014 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: 4.0 out of 5.