Pros-Upscale. Fast. Roomy. Smooth Ride. Good handling and more distinctive look with optional F Sport package. All-wheel drive.
Cons-Long, heavy front doors. Hard center rear seat. Outdated infotainment system.
Bottom Line-Posh upscale sporty sedan.
The 2019 Lexus GS350 F Sport AWD
makes a good argument for buying a sporty, luxurious midsize sedan.
There are various GS models, but the $54,105 GS350 F Sport AWD is among the most attractive. It has a potent, smooth 3.5-liter, 311-horsepower V-6, roomy interior and a calm demeanor under trying circumstances with its optional F Sport tuned adaptive variable suspension and all-wheel-drive system. Lexus calls this model a "sporty sedan" but it's more sporty than "sport," if you know what I mean.
The engine, which has 280 lb.-ft. of torque, shoots power through a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission with a lightning quick manual-shift feature via steering wheel paddle controls.
Estimated fuel economy is 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on highways. Premium fuel is called for to fill the 17.4 gallon tank..
Upgrading to the $290 F Sport package combines "track-tuned" chassis enhancements with exclusive exterior and interior design features for a more striking look and feel.
The package includes the above-mentioned adaptive variable suspension, 19-inch split spoke alloy wheels, Sport Plus drive mode, special instrumentation and sports seats with a 16-way power adjustable driver's seat that includes power side bolsters, thigh support and four-way lumber feature. There's also subtle F Sport badging on the body sides and rear and the tuned adaptive variable suspension.
Styling enhancements include a unique front bumper, revised grille with F Sport inserts and a rear valence with nicely integrated chromed twin exhaust outlets and a subtle rear lip spoiler. The super-quiet interior has striated aluminum trim, 'F Sport" aluminum pedals and door scuff plates, perforated leather trim and a black headliner.
My test car's bottom line list price was $58,835 without a $1,025 delivery charge because it had a bunch of options, besides the F Sport package. The extras included an all-weather package, Mark Levinson premium surround sound audio system with 17 speakers, power trunk opener/closer, intuitive park assist and a heated leather steering wheel.
A driver can select various drive modes from "economy" to "sport plus" via a console dial. The GS350 F Sport AWD is such a smooth cruiser that even the Sport Plus mode doesn't cause the car to be uncomfortable on imperfect roads, although this mode sharpens the car's reflexes by controlling the engine, transmission and steering. Lexus recommends this mode for "mountain driving," but no mountains exist in the Chicago area where I tested the car. I found it did fine in "Eco" mode.
The steering is precise in any mode, but a driver should be careful because it's faster than one might think it would be. At least its connection to the road is moderately good.
My test car's roadability also was helped by a vehicle stability control system and traction control. The nicely calibrated front independent double wishbone and independent multi-link rear suspension help out here.
Safety features include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, which can warn a driver of a possible collision and initiate automatic braking if necessary. There's also a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and a backup monitor.
The brake pedal has a progressive action, and the brakes have electronic brake force distribution for surer panic stops.
Safety features include 10 air bags and side curtain protection.
The GS350 F Sport AWD's interior has high-quality materials with attractive stitching, easily read gauges and handy dashboard manual temperature controls. There's a one-touch open/close sunroof with a shade but the infotainment system is outdated with a distractive mouselike controller. And there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality.
The large power outside rearview mirrors can be folded against the front windows to help prevent parking area damage, but the window controls on the driver's door can easily mistakenly lower the rear windows instead of the front ones. Also, a driver must get used to the fact that the turn signals don't emit a "click" when their lever is moved to signal a turn. The steering wheel has an automatic tilt/slide feature.
The front doors are long and heavy, and rear door openings are rather narrow. Even the rear seats offer good side and thigh support, but the center of the rear seat is too stiff for comfort and best used for the pull-down armrest that contains a shallow storage area and pull-out cupholders. There's a fair amount of cabin storage area, but the front door pockets don't hold water bottlers and the console shifter gets partially in the way of the twin front cupholders.
The enormous trunk has a low, wide opening, but there are no folding rear seat backs to enlarge the cargo area-just a narrow ski pass-through.
The hood slides opens on twin struts to reveal a large plastic engine cover and one of the world's longest oil dipsticks. Lexus quality is such that it's doubtful that anyone but Lexus service technicians will ever need to open the hood for routine maintenance.