2009 Lexus GS350 AWD redesigned and advanced
The Lexus GS model was redesigned in 2006, and is one of Toyota's most advanced vehicles in technology. For 2009 there have been no significant changes made to the GS luxury sedan. I test drove the all-wheel drive model for the week which is well suited for Denver's climate and mountain roads along the front range.
The GS 350 is thoroughly enjoyable to drive. The V6 is quite responsive, and according to Lexus, the GS 350 will go from 0 to 60 mph in an impressive 5.7 seconds and with all-wheel drive it gets an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg. The all-wheel-drive GS 350 features a fast-acting, clutch-type center differential that sends 70 percent of the power to the rear wheels under normal circumstances to help foster the dynamics of a rear-wheel-drive car. When wheel sensors detect slippery road conditions, as much as 50 percent of engine power is diverted to the front wheels to increase the car's overall traction on the road.
I felt completely safe in a recent snowstorm up near Evergreen.
The GS 350 features a 303-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic with manual shift gate. The V6 is very responsive and just plain fast. The six-speed automatic transmission goes through the gear changes virtually undetectable. The GS is a performance car, and with 303 horsepower, it will appeal to driving enthusiasts. The all-wheel-drive version of the GS 350 handles a wide range of weather conditions well and doesn't seem to offer many compromises in terms of speed, handling or even fuel economy.
I like the GS 350 for its balanced handling and overall performance. The 17-inch wheels provide good ride quality but 18-inch tires are available to provide more cornering grip for drivers who feel they need it. The all-wheel-drive model feels surprisingly maneuverable due to its rear wheel drive bias under normal conditions.
Inside, the Lexus GS comes very well equipped. Standard equipment on the GS 350 includes thick leather upholstery and color-coordinated wood trim (golden or gray bird's-eye maple, or red walnut); dual-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; power tilt/telescoping wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; heated 10-way power-adjustable front seats; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel; trunk pass-through; heated auto-dimming power exterior mirrors with tilt-down back-up aid; power windows; power locks; SmartAccess keyless access and starting; sunroof; remote engine starting; auxiliary audio input jack; vehicle information system with a seven-inch touch screen; Bluetooth wireless cell phone link; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; power trunk closer; automatic HID headlights; theft-deterrent system; fog lights. The GS 350 AWD has P225/50R17 all-season run-flat tires.
My test vehicle was equipped with the optional Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound system ($3,630), developed especially for the GS interior. Utilizing 5.1 surround sound playback via a 7.1-channel speaker topology, its 330-watt amplifier sends the sound through 14 speakers via 11 channels of amplification. It even plays DVD movies on the seven-inch screen when the car is parked.
The technology in the GS is the most advanced in the industry. The Car DVD-based navigation system is impressive with its information for more than 6 million points of interest, and the route searching is conducted at ten times the speed of previous-generation systems. The screen has excellent resolution and the map images have three-dimensional shading to aid recognition. Voice recognition makes the system completely hands-free once you figure out how to use it. For me, one week with the car is not enough time to understand all the technology.
The Bluetooth-compatible telephone system can be operated by voice command also, or through the seven-inch touch screen. The Lexus GS combines all this technology with lavish, luxurious appointments. The Lexus GS may be finally catching up with its German competition.