2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport Review: An Overachieving Luxury Sedan with a Sports Car Spirit
When the current Lexus GS350 F Sport was introduced for the 2013 model year, it brought a whole new level of aggressive design to the luxury lineup – a look that we would see spread across the entire brand. A brand that was once looked at as being little more than chromed out Toyota sedans has grown and evolved to become what is arguably the most aggressively designed luxury brand on the market today…and the GS350 F Sport launched that look.
The only significant change for the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport is the new 8-speed automatic transmission which, oddly, doesn’t improve the performance numbers but it does slightly increase the fuel economy figures. Fortunately, the GS350 F Sport is good enough that “only” adding a new transmission and 1mpg is more than enough to keep this sexy sedan at the front of the midsized luxury segment.
My 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport test car was pretty much loaded to the hilt, with the F Sport package being joined by the Blind Spot Monitoring system ($700), the heads up display ($900), a premium Mark Levinson sound system with 17 speakers ($1,380), a premium navigation system ($1,735) and the Lexus Dynamic Handling system ($1,700) – all of which add up to a final sticker price of $61,155. That is a lot of money, but the GS350 F Sport is a lot of car…one that is worth every single cent.
The exterior of the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport hasn’t changed any and I consider that to be a very good thing. While the aggressive, angular design of the F Sport front end might be too much for some – I think that it is the best looking Lexus model on the market today. I like all of the F Sport sedans, but I find the GS350 to be the model that wears this look the best.
Up front, the 2014 GS350 F Sport package adds a super aggressive lower front fascia with unique grille mesh filling while a touch of chrome around the upper part of the spindle grille design keeps you reminded that this car is as much luxury as it is sport. Adding to the high tech aspect are the angular headlights with projection and LED trim. They provide great light at night and they look freakin’ awesome day or night. Along the sides, this GS350 wears the unique 19 inch wheels wrapped in high performance summer tires along with some subtle badging and a package specific lower side sill with a more sharply sculpted form.
Out back, the 2014 GS350 F Sport has a lower diffuser area in contrasting matte black with integrated chrome dual exhaust tips. The highlight of the rear end is the ultra bright, beautifully designed LED taillights with the unique “L” design that flows into the chrome strip that connects the two sides, just below the low profile rear spoiler.
Things haven’t changed on the outside of the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport, but it is still one of the best looking cars in the segment and, in my opinion, this is one of the best looking cars that Lexus has ever offered up. The design of this car is a home run in every way.
To say that the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport has a beautiful sport sedan interior is almost an insult, as there is a certain negative connotation with “sedan interiors”. The GS350 F Sport has a beautiful sports car interior from front to back, top to bottom, and it just happens to have space for four adults in a cabin that is packed full of every bit of high end luxury technology. The interior looks gorgeous, with black leather seats featuring white trim matching the massive amounts of black leather found throughout the cabin from the dash to the door panels to the steering wheel to the arm rests. Joining this predominantly black cockpit is a scattering of silver trim here and there – providing subtle accents to dark, sexy interior layout.
First up, the front seats of the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport are deep, sport buckets with adjustability that allows the driver to move the seat to the perfect position including a thigh pad extension, making the car super comfortable whether the driver is very tall or very short. The back seat offers a solid amount of leg, knee, shoulder and head space and the back seats are as plush and padded as the front seats, but the back seats don’t offer the same deep bolsters as the fronts so there is less support during spirited driving.
The next most significant aspect of the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport interior is the infotainment which is centered around the 12.3” navigation screen that is mounted high on the dash, in a position that allows the driver to look at the screen without taking his or her eyes far from the road. This screen has a split design that allows you to keep one type of information such as the sound system information, the climate control bits or fuel economy figures while the large left side screen offers a more detailed look at every aspect of the system – from the navigation to the climate control system to vehicle settings and, most importantly, the stunning Mark Levinson 17 speaker sound system. Whether you listen to classical, heavy metal or rap, this sound system pounds out the sounds like few other stock systems I’ve experienced. This is an optional sound system that is a must-have feature, as is the 12.3 inch navigation system screen which, surprisingly, is not operated via a touch screen. Instead, Lexus integrates voice controls, a collection of buttons on the steering wheel and a computer mouse like control interface that is located where your right arm rests when driving so without lifting your elbow from the center arm rest, you can control every aspect of the interior You just use the pad on the center console to move the mouse pointer around the screen and you click on whatever you want to change It’s Genious. Of course, if you don’t like the computer type interface, the voice controls or the steering wheel controls, there is a small collection of buttons and knobs low on the center stack that allows some control of the sound system and full control of the climate system.
While most luxury sedans have gone to the full customizable TFT gauge clusters, the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport uses a more traditional setup with two large gauges – a tachometer and a speedometer – with a small screen in the middle that offers up information on the drive mode chosen and other vehicle information. However, while there is no fancy gauge setup, my GS350 F Sport test car was fitted with a heads up display that I really liked. More and more companies are introducing the heads up projection display and Lexus is one of the brands that really does it well and if you don’t like it, you can easily shut it off.
In the world of midsized luxury sport sedans, the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport leaves little to ask for in terms of space or comforts. This is one of the most comfortable interiors in the segment with the most impressive collection of technology in the segment. It is an interior fitting of a luxury sport sedan, perfectly combining “luxury” and “sport”.
The 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport is powered by a 3.5L V6 that sends 306 horsepower and 277lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels by means of a new 8-speed automatic transmission. If you were wondering about the “overachieving” part in the title comes into play, this is it. Even though the GS350 F Sport “only” has 306 horsepower – a number which is somewhat low relative to some of the other headliners in the luxury sport sedan segment – it feels incredibly strong in any driving situation. When launching hard from a stop, the GS rips quickly through the gears and for a vehicle of this size, it turns in a very impressive quarter mile time that ranges from the high 13s to the low 14s. Those are some pretty strong numbers, but that is actually the area in which the GS350 shines the least.
During my time with the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport I made a long highway drive to visit family and having made the trip many, many times before, I’ve never had the trip be as comfortable as it was in the GS350 F Sport. Some folks have complained about the race style seats but having spent 4 straight hours in the driver’s seat, I couldn’t find a single thing to complain about. I could see driving this car across the country in total comfort and while on the highway, the GS350 F Sport offers a super smooth ride fitting of a modern luxury car. Very little of the road noise wind noise or road surface harshness makes it into the cabin, making the drive whisper quiet. Also, while traveling on the highway, the GS350 F Sport will cruise very comfortably at very, very high speeds so if you live near the Nürburgring or some other area with no real speed restriction – this midsized Lexus will always be up to the task.
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At the same time, the Dynamic Handling System allows the driver to switch from Normal mode to Sport or Sport+ modes improve performance in every way, most notably altering the shift schedule, sharpening up the steering response and stiffening up the suspension to really bring the car to life. Honestly, I was so taken by how the GS350 F Sport rides and handles in Sport+ mode that I spent the vast majority of my drive time in that mode…shy of some time spent in highway traffic in Eco Mode. Even in Normal mode, the GS350 F Sport handles well but moving to Sport or Sport+ modes enhances the handling enough to let you confidently cut through twisty back roads as very high speeds with the assistance of the variable ratio steering system. Also, should you get into a turn a bit too fast, the big front brakes of the F Sport package bring the GS350 to a stop in a serious hurry. Also, the steering wheel mounted shift paddles allow the driver to make quick, accurate upshifts and downshifts, which can also help you carve through the canyons of life with an extra measure of fun.
The new GS350 F Sport’s key addition is the new 8-speed transmission which, surprisingly, doesn’t improve acceleration figure according to Lexus, but it does improve fuel economy a bit. The EPA expects 19 in the city, 29 on the highway and 23 combined. On the course of my long road trip, I was able to average 33.1 miles per gallon with literally nothing but highway driving. That long highway trip also allowed me to beat the EPA combined figure comfortably, averaging 25.1mpg overall. When I was really pushing the GS hard around town, I did see the numbers fall hard, but I don’t expect that most drivers will push their Lexus as hard as I did…at least not on a regular basis. The important part is that when you are driving the GS350 F Sport normally on a long, flat highway run through Ohio – you will be able to get very, very good mileage for a vehicle with such strong driving characteristics.
The only complaint that I have with the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport is that I would like a little more power out of a high end sport model like this, but unless you are focusing strictly on drag racing, the GS350 F Sport will almost certainly quench your need for premium luxury speed. I absolutely loved driving the GS350 F Sport in every situation. This car is so much fun to drive and so comfortable that whether I was sitting in rush hour traffic, blasting down the highway or zipping along a back country road – I loved being behind the wheel of the 2014 GS350 F Sport.
The Final Word
The 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport isn’t the fastest sport sedan on the market – not by a long shot – but it is a stunning example of a true luxury sport sedan. This isn’t a high performance sedan with some leather seats and carbon fiber dash panels being labeled as a luxury car – this is one of the most impressive midsized luxury cars on the market with a drivetrain and suspension system that make it a total blast to drive. Most importantly, Lexus has given the GS350 F Sport this impressive fun to drive feel without compromising any of the qualities that make it, in my opinion, the best midsized luxury sport sedan on the market today.
If you want a midsized luxury sedan that might not be the fastest, but one that offers an interior that can outclass anything in the segment with aggressive, sporty design inside and out – the Lexus GS350 F Sport is the car for you. This is a beautiful, sporty sedan with an interior spread that is hard to beat – even if you look to far more expensive sport sedans. It isn’t the most powerful sport sedan but for the price, this Lexus offers more driving excitement than in the segment so while you won’t kill it at the drag strip, you will be able to rocket down the highway and blast through the turns with the best of them. A little more power would be nice, but that is the only thing that I can even remotely complain about with the 2014 Lexus GS350 F Sport and I bet that if you’re shopping for a luxury sedan, this is a car that you will never want to get out of or stop driving.