Pros Much better value than it's competitors
Read my review
Cons A couple cheap feeling parts
A couple features missing
Summary First I would like to point out a couple errors in the Cnet review:Writing a review during an insomnia attack is not recommended, as the grammatical and spelling errors in my above review clearly illustrate. My apologies to the erudite, and those that have respect for proper English and the written language.
eDestination is not new, it's been out since 2009 (model year 2010).
Navigation does have text to speech. It will say the street names. If they were referring to reading text messages, the car will do that too, but the phone has to support Bluetooth MAP (message access profile). The iPhone does not support that, but many Android and Blackberry phones do.
iPhone does not need to be connected through USB for use with Enform App suite. Blackberry is also supported.
In the Cnet video review they also said that to get the AVS (Adaptive Variable Suspension) you had to get the F-SPort; not true. The Luxury package also gets AVS. I think what they meant was LDH (Lexus Dynamic Handling). That will give you AVS, VGS (variable gear ratio steering), DRS (dynamic rear steering) and is only available on the F-sport.
It's a shame they only got to test the AWD because the RWD is the more fun car on the track. It exhibits less understear and the car rotates through the turns so nicely it really puts the BMW 5-series to shame (I got to drive both back-to-back on the track). The Lexus stability control was much less intrusive.
As much fun as the F-Sport was on the track, I bought the Luxury package because it had more features that I thought would benifit me more in my real world commute. One thing especially is those 18-way adjustable seats for both driver and passenger. The F-Sport gets 16-way driver and only 10-way for the passenger (WHY?). I do wish they offered the cabernet leather in the luxury because it looks SHARP. Although I do love the quality of the semi-aniline leather in the luxury (remakably soft). I also really appreciate the additional sunshades for rear passengers and the true 3-zone climate control (not only is the temperature independant, but vent selection is too).
Selecting Sport S + on the F-Sport feels firmer than on the Luxury, but it might just be the 19" wheels vs. the 18" on the Luxury. It's definately firm enough to have occasional fun on the commute. In normal mode the ride is sublime.
I really like the engine in this car. I prefer it over the turbocharged BMW engine. I have always been a BMW fan (had 7 of them) but on the track I found the turbo inline 6 to me a bit frustrating when exiting slow, sharp turns. There was lag and the boost would kick in (and it was strong) right when it was time to slow down again. Plus the Lexus engine sounds much better (they use a similar trick to what BMW has used to get a nice engine sound into the cabin).
Cnet says they would like to see only direct injection on this engine, but the current setup has its advantages. Using direct injection and port injection simultaneously facilitates more precise mixing of air and fuel under low and medium load conditions for greater efficiency, while high load conditions dictate the use of direct injection alone for maximum power.
I agree that the transmission might benefit from an extra cog or two. The gas mileage is just OK, but my car is still green, plus I enjoy listening to that engine a little more than I should. It would have been really nice if they would have put the IS-F 8-speed in this car (maybe just the F-Sport). That transmission is phenomenal. The car has plenty of power, and when placed in manual mode the transmission will do just what you ask, when you ask. I prefer the paddle shifters on the column, but I guess the steering wheel is more common.
It's not a perfect car though. There are a couple areas that irritate me. One is the moon roof sunshade; it feels really cheap (like Toyota Corolla cheap) and is just out of character in this car. The moonroof sunshades in the competitors are much nicer, and are either powered, or have vents in them so that when you tilt the moonroof up you can leave the sunshade closed. The other is that the trunk really needs to be slammed (there is no power option, or even assistance like on the previous GS. It is really annoying when your arms are full and you have to put everything on the ground just to close the trunk. Another irritation is that mirrors don't power fold in. The Kia Optima has power fold in mirrors.
All-in-all, this car suited me much better than the others in this class. And comparably equipped, about $10,000 less than the BMW 535i (it's actually less than a comparably equipped 528i). Plus I have the luxury of knowing that it is less likely than any other to give me reliability issues.
Updated on May 3, 2012
Pros The Lexus GS matches the BMW 535i in 0 to 60 times; it is faster in the 1/4 mile and out brakes the BMW from 60 to 0! It also will spend much less time needing repairs.
Cons The smartphone linked apps for all cars is a gimmick. Using expensive data minutes to search for a restaurant, buy movie tickets or a Bing search will be very expensive and dangerously distracting. Voice command features are still cumbersome.
Summary I drove the Lexus GS F Sport and a BMW 535i at the Lexus Performance Tour in a head to head comparison at the Fontana Raceway in February. I now own a GS 350 F Sport. My observations differ somewhat from those of Mr. Cunningham. While I agree with most of what has been reported in the C-NET review, I found several differences. First, comparing the GS 350 with the BMW "M" or Mercedes AMG is comparing two different classes of cars. Lexus aimed at and beat the BMW 535i in most categories. This was proven in actual road tests conducted by two different auto enthusiasts magazines.
My iPhone 4 does link via Bluetooth and performs all of the functions of an Android phone.
My overall MPG figures are much higher than Mr. Cunningham's. My combined city and highway (70+ MPH) has been running 23.5 MPG. My highway MPH has been running 26.5 MPG and will improve with a few more miles. It is possible C-NET's MPG was lower because of numerous heavy throttle performance tests as compared to my "normal" driving.
As a personal observation, my reason for choosing the Lexus GS instead of a BMW 535i was one of simple ownership history. I've owned 2 BMW's and 2 Lexus's. My BMW's were frequently in the shop with problems, some of which were never resolved even with factory intervention. Both of my prior Lexus's have been basically trouble free other than an airbag recall and a computer update for the brake/throttle override. I've given up on the "status" of driving a BMW for the reliability of the Lexus, and now with the GS-350 F Sport I have BMW-matching performance.
Pros Lexus still has the motto of being the "L" in luxury
Cons Car enthusiast might search for something more unique
Pros The acceleration is much better than it's predecessor, the new navigation is much better once you figure out how to use the mouse stick. Voice activated features are much more clear but some of the old commands are gone, still learning the new ones.
Cons The apps feature at first I thought was great. Playing Pandora through the navigation etc etc, I'm coming to find out I'd rather just stream pandora and control it from my phone instead of paying 2-300 per year for that feature.
Summary Big step up from the 3rd Gen GS350, handles better, pickup is great, the styling was so attractive that I totalled my 07 GS350 and I was so excited I could go buy a new one that I didn't miss the last one.
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