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A Two-Year Assessment


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I recently posted a challenge to what I see as a lack of ferment in the forum, so am responding to my own challenge with this assessment of my '13 gs350 awd.

Background: I am a 70-year-old corporate retiree and lifetime auto enthusiast. I've owned something approaching 50 cars in my life, including everything from a new '68 Olds 442 to a turbo Corvair, Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Saab. I have lived on two continents and driven in 10 or so countries, both right- and left-hand drive. My younger years incuded hot rods and drag racing; later autocrosses and hillclimbs, and driving an open-wheel racer when I lived in the U.K. Generally, I lean toward European engineering, and my prejudices will show up in my assessment, no doubt.

Bought my car based on experience with my dealer in conjunction with my wife's '09 RX350, improvements in the current gs350 iteration, and an extremely attractive deal and a very professional business model.. Other factors include variable quality of, and distance from, the European car dealers, Saab's demise, and reliability ratings on the German three (including my own experience with my Z4).

Key points:

- Favorable: Very professional sales staff, selling environment, and business model; rock-solid, highly reliable car, '13 and later gs 350 highly competitive with Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

- Unfavorable: Erratic performance from start button -- does not always work first time, and may require 3 - 4 tries; under everyday driving conditions, the car displays little pizazz (does everything well, but no personality); navigation is unneccessarily complicated.

At two years and 13K miles (our driving is split among three cars), here is my overall assessment:

Generally, the car lives up to expectations. It is reliable (except for the start button problem), quiet, and solid. It is probably the best long-distance cruiser we've ever had, certainly the most comfortable. Seats excellent. High marks for handling and braking, and outstanding stability in bad weather. The car offers excellent acceleration when needed, and responds to spirited driving well -- especially in sport mode.

The electronics interface has been criticized in the magazine reviews, but I do not find it a problem -- at least, no more of a problem than any of the other interfaces. A little practice makes the controller pretty easy to use, and I like the integration of the screen in the dashboard. As noted earlier, I find the navigation system complicated and offering to many variations and features, although clearly superior to the '09 RX350. I find my clamp-on Garmin Navigator, which I used with my previous car, to be much simpler and far easier to use, especially as it allows on-the-go input that the passenger can make.

I like the heated steering wheel, but wish the seat heaters did not automatically turn off (federal requirement, I am told). The side-warning signals in the mirror are an extremely valuable feature, and the rear sunscreen is more useful than one would guess at first. I dislike that the cruise control turns off when the engine turns off; it needs to be like the European versions that allow it to stay engaged until turned off. It also needs to be better positioned for the right hand. Windshield squirters should be integrated with the wiper stalk.

Fuel consumption seems acceptable for a car weighing nearly 4000 lbs, although some of the German competitors appear to do a little better. In the winter and local driving, I drop below 20mpg sometimes. In good weather and under optimal conditions, I can hit 27 mpg. Most of my driving is suburban or highway. In freeway driving, I typically try to cruise at 70 - 75 mph, and closer to 80 where speed limits and traffic allow.

The car has required no maintenance other than the 10K service and the brake switch recall.

One of the strongest arguments for Lexus, in my view, is the business model. I appreciate doing business with professional sales people, and the Lexus care philosophy is highly valuable at this stage of life when reliability and dealer support are more important than, say, cornering power.

Styling is satisfying but perhaps bland, with no major faults, but no compelling design ques (e.g. Cadillac or BMW). Ergonomics get maybe nine point out of ten based on commens above, but are overall good.

Overall, I give this car high marks. In sport mode and with my foot in it, the car exhibits some flair, but is otherwise closer to plain vanilla than mint chocolate chip. Having said that, I perceive that Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have all moved in that direction, and without the reliablity of the Lexus, and in some cases, without the resale value. Those considerations are big compensation for any loss of "personality," whatever that means to different folks.

So, approaching two years, let's call the total score about 9.5 out of 10, or maybe a little higher.

Would be interested in hearing other assessments. Anybody else have a problem with the start button? It was listed as an item in the Lexus questionnaire I received after purchase, but there is no service bulletin issued and the dealership has not earmarked it as problem.

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I too have the same vehicle.. (G350 AWD) with 12k miles on it and I have a few years on you (72)....I find your comments very realistic and to the point. I get into it a bit more than you and enjoy the roar of the exhaust and snappy high speed pickup. Jumps from 50 to 100 in a flash.

The nav system is horrible compared to my IS350 (2008) system....I see the newer SUV now use a touch screen pad in the console area. I bet we see that in all the new vehicles. (Lexus finally woke up). The GS has great seats. They grip you and hold you in place. .The gs corners nicely and holds the road around corners like a cat. I tend to speed up for all exit ramps and love to down shift as much as I can. The Tires are really bad and always develop flat spots when left for an hour or so....I understand from TIRERACK that these are one of the worse tires out there. I cannot wait to replace them. No problem with the start button, but do notice that sometime the GS does not respond as well as it should. Tends to think to much before acting...no always, but more than it should. Overall quality is excellent ( that is why I bought it)..MPG is poor compared to my wifes ES350...which has reached 36mpg several times...lucky to hit 27 on the GS. Hope Lexus ups the ante with a V8 or supercharges V6....if not my next Lexus will be German.

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You are lucky that you had a good sales experience. My salesman was the worst I ever dealt with and I actually had to get a friend of the owner of the dealership to intervene. If i do buy another Lexus, I won't use that salesman. If they insist I do, I will buy something else.

My IS has its own set of problems. The carbon build up issue, and bad window rattling (I have a convertible). Other people I have talked to on other sites have had the dealer correct these problems. My dealership is trying to make me feel like a dumb girl. I'm going to have to go over their head for satisfaction, I can see that.

Thank goodness, my cooling/heating seats will stay on. I do keep them on too. Maybe the government doesn't care about ISs. :-). That is OK, I don't think much of the government either.

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Overall, I think the Lexus business model is pretty good, although a bit more nanny-ish than I'd like. But the intent seems to be a high-quality, professional selling environment. That's been consistent with my dealership, with the dealership my daughter and son-in-law used in Chicago, and my brief experience with the dealer in Spring, TX. I got my car washed there while traveling recently.

If nothing else, the Lexus promise, or implied promise, and the number of dollar you lay down for the car allow you to be fairly demanding. I usually bypass car sales people and go directly to the sales manager with my pitch: I want to look at car, and if I like it, I will ask for your price. If I like it, I will write a check. If not, say thanks and walk out the door, but I won't sit and bicker about a couple of hundred bucks at a time. Fortunately, there was no requirement to do that when I bought the GS. Maybe being a service customer with my wife's RX350 helped. It came from an estate sale in the family, so was not sold orginally by my local dealer.

Best dealership I have had was my Mercedes dealer when we lived in the U.K. Talk about first class, that place wrote the book. Was sorry to leave it when we moved back to the States.

With respect to the seat heaters, I am informed that there are two kinds, and that the type in the GS require auto shut-off. Maybe that's associated with the winter package on the car and the higher capacity heater, but I don't see why. The seat heaters on my Saab were equal in performance but did not require auto shut-off. It's an inconvenience, but not a show-stopper. We almost never use the seat cooling function, so I have no criticism of it.

Given my automotive preferences, I would have gravitated toward the IS if it had been in the 2014 configuration. I looked at it, and thought that's what I wanted, but there were additional cash incentives for the GS, and it appears to have very strong resale value. Although its a littlel bigger and heavier than I like, I've got to say that the excellent back seats and rear legroom are really nice when we have other folks in the car.

My wife never liked the Saabs as well as I did, but she likes the GS somewhat better than I do. I guess it's a keeper. I recently drove a new LS460. It is a magnificent automobile, but lacks the immediacy of the GS, especially in braking -- more closely related to the soft braking feel in the RX350. The F-sport presumably fixes that, but I'm not sure I like the F-sport version, and I a not likely to lay out LS dollars. So agaiin, looks like the GS is a keeper.

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Lexus of Memphis had the only ISc with the F-sport package within a 300 mile radius. I saw it on the showroom and I had to have it. I still have the video I took of the car the day I first saw it. I had to have the rims, the grill, the aluminum pedals and the trim package. There was no settling for a non F-sport vehicle.

I'm quite the opposite about the washing. I always tell my dealership DO NOT WASH MY CAR!!!!!!!! I don't want them washing my wax off and I don't want them messing up my emblems that I Plasti-dipped. I don't like anybody messing with my car. I have always done my own detailing.

My best purchasing experience was with the Infiniti I bought. They were so awesome. The salesman kept in touch with me and even sent me personal Christmas cards.....not corporate ones. I'll never buy another Infiniti. The quality just isn't there. It sure was fast though. Yee Haw!!!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

My Lexus sales esperience is very good at one particular Lexus dealership that I work with exclusively. When I want to test drive a car, they just give me the keys, no dead weight salesperson in the car, no prob.

The Mercedes dealership a couple doors down the street gives similar level of customer service, very good. I think they learned from the Lexus dealership.

As I mentioned in another post for Lexus and added personality, F-sport helps a lot. Just like M stuff helps BMW and AMG stuffs help Mercedes cars become more entertaining. The customer can configure some tasty premium cars from all 3 of these major brands, and still not go to expensive extremes like IS-F, E63, M5, etc.

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