Friday, December 7, 2007

2007 Lexus GS 350 Review

2007 Lexus GS 350

Lexus redesigned its GS sport sedan for 2006. For 2007, it gains a bigger 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 303 horsepower and necessitates a name change. The newly dubbed GS 350 also gets new high-friction brake pads to accompany its bigger engine.

All-wheel drive is available for the GS 350. Hydraulic controls in the system vary the front/rear torque split from 30/70 to 50/50 and provide what Lexus calls the performance advantages of rear-wheel drive with the confident traction of all-wheel drive. The related V-8-powered GS 430 sedan comes only with rear-wheel drive.

An option group includes adaptive laser cruise control and a pre-collision system that helps determine if a crash is imminent and takes appropriate steps if it is. Other options include Intuitive Park Assist and adaptive headlights that swivel in accord with the front wheels.

Lexus says the sedan has a futuristic look, though the vertical grille and four independent headlights are reminiscent of its predecessor. Featuring uncluttered sheet metal, the GS 350 has a long hood, a very short rear deck and wide tapered C-pillars that flow back to the rear of the car. For 2007, Lexus adds Starfire Pearl, Obsidian, Black Sapphire, Smoky Granite Mica and Verdigris Mica paint options.

Long side glass and a steep back window enhance the GS 350's performance image. The sedan is 190 inches long and 71.7 inches wide with a 112.2-inch wheelbase. Aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. Options include a moonroof and a power rear sunshade.

As with many other Lexus models, the GS 350 gets an updated optional navigation system for 2007 with Bluetooth, voice activation and a rearview camera. A 7-inch dashboard screen works with the navigation system and also serves as a monitor for the Intuitive Park Assist system. A 10-speaker sound system is standard, and a Mark Levinson surround-sound system with 14 speakers is optional. Trunk space totals 12.7 cubic feet.

Five occupants fit inside the GS 350, which features leather-trimmed seats. Heated front seats are standard, and fan ventilation is an option. Premium wood and both polished and leather accents round out the upscale cabin. A Smart Access keyless entry system includes new push-to-start ignition, and the new gauge cluster features aluminum faces. A variable transparency lens reduces glare on the gauges on sunny days. A power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is installed. Hidden panels to the left of the steering wheel hold infrequently used controls.

The 3.5-liter V-6 engine produces 303 hp at 6,400 rpm and 274 pounds-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. The six-speed automatic transmission includes Power, Normal and Snow modes.

Front knee airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard. Lexus' optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions.
Source: cars

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here is some feedback from a real owner/driver of a 2007 Lexus GS350 AWD.

Recently I was in the market for a new Luxury Sedan to be used as an everyday driver. I have owned several Luxury Sedans and SUV’s over the past 20 years and consider myself fairly knowledgeable about this class of automobile. I considered Infinity, Acura, and Lexus. After a few test drives in various Infinity models they were removed from the search. I looked at the Acura RL for several months but could not get past the uninspired exterior styling. That left the Lexus GS350. The GS350 is a gorgeous automobile and after a test drive and some internet research my mind was made up. Basically, I like the GS350, it is comfortable, and has good performance. My only reservation was that the Acura RL seems to be a better designed automobile. But the GS350 is more attractive and appears to have all the same features; so I bought the GS350.

But, the honeymoon was over in a matter of weeks. I have since learned this beautiful lady has some serious drawbacks that compromise her standing as a serious Luxury Sedan and direct competitor to the Acura RL. Here are my observations after driving the GS350 for the past several months. Also, please note that I live in the Pacific Northwest; that means rain and less than optimal road surfaces.

Rain Sensors
The Rain Sensor subsystem is not sensitive enough to activate the wipers frequently enough to keep the windshield clear in light or misty rain, even with the sensor set to max sensitivity. This forces the driver to frequently activate the wiper blades manually. Not only is this annoying, it is absolutely unacceptable in this class of automobile. As with other manufacturers (Acura RL), this problem is easily resolved with a manual override to enable manual intermittent operation. Why Lexus chose to ignore this configuration option is a puzzle, but it is most likely a result of a lack of attention to detail.

Auto Headlight Sensor
Depending on the available ambient light, the GS350 headlights will automatically switch on and off several times over short periods of time (30 seconds). This behavior is exacerbated in early morning shadowy grey light. This is annoying because it looks as if I am flashing my lights at other drivers. This problem seems to be unique to the GS350 and is likely a result of a low threshold light sensor setting combined with a short sampling period. This is easily resolved with a software upgrade to fine tune this subsystem. Again, Lexus engineers are not paying attention to details.

Navigation System
I won’t go into detail here as it is well known that Lexus disables several Navigation, Telephony, and other NAV subsystem features while the car is moving. And forcing the driver to acknowledge the “safety” message each and every time the car is switch on is one of the most annoying and insulting features I have ever seen in an automobile. What’s more, after the driver is forced to acknowledge the safety warning, the Nav system is basically rendered inoperable anyway when the vehicle is in motion. So what is the point of acknowledging the safety message? I should also mention safety warning acknowledge touch point on my Nav touch screen is getting worn out. The Lexus Navigation System needs some serious rework.

AWD Steering
I have driven the same roads to the office over the past 12 years. Since driving my new GS350 to the office I have notices all sorts of imperfections on those familiar roads because the GS350 just loves to follow those imperfections at lower speeds. Further, if I do not have a reasonable grip on the steering wheel while braking on an imperfect road surface, the vehicle will sometimes veer sharply, pulling the steering wheel from my grip. I have had this unique experience several times over the past few weeks. This is a very annoying and unsafe characteristic of the GS350. I have also noticed the front wheels tend to track like in an inexpensive front wheel drive car, transmitting that familiar front wheel drive “tug” to the steering wheel. And quick acceleration from a standstill can result in unexpected veering unless the drive holds the steering wheel straight and tight. Again, not what I expect in a $50K AWD automobile. Something is not quite right with the steering subsystem on the AWD GS350. It just feels odd. Advice…. keep a firm grip on that beautiful slippery wood steering wheel.

Steering Wheel
The GS350 comes with a beautiful lacquered rosewood accented steering wheel. Although visual pleasing and a pleasant to the touch experience, the finished wood is also very slippery. And slippery steering wheels can be dangerous because they will and do slip out of your grip. Lexus should remove the wood and go with an all leather steering wheel. Or perhaps provide leather grips on the backside of the wood.

Also, it seems to me the control switches on the steering wheel are poorly lit and difficult to see at night. Was this an oversight by Lexus engineers? Again, lack of attention to details?

Auto Mirror Tilt
The GS350 has a bizarre feature of tilting down both side rear view mirrors while in reverse. Luckily this feature can be disabled, but is re-enabled when the mirror is adjusted. Yes, I understand that this may be useful on one way street parking. But, the mirrors don’t tilt down far enough to be useful for curb parking anyway (can’t see the curb). Although this could be a useful feature for the curb side mirror while backing into a parallel parking spot on a two way street, tilting the driver side mirror poses a safety problem when trying to exit a tight curb side parking spot because it restricts rear view vision on driver side mirror (remember, the nose can pull out into traffic when backing up). Make this feature programmable. This is yet another poorly thought out feature.

Cassette Player
Cassette tape is a dead medium. Why Lexus would elect to include a cassette player in a 2007 automobile is beyond me. It is also a waste of precious console space. I have received blog comments from a few geezers claiming to have lots of cassette tapes they want to play in their GS350. Get or make CD versions folks! This is yet another indicator that perhaps folks at Lexus are out of touch with their target market.

Ash Tray
The ashtray is waste of space for non smokers and like other manufactures, Lexus should offer a storage compartment/ashtray configuration option as a standard feature. And the over priced $300 aftermarket ashtray conversion kit is an insult. As with the cassette player, this is yet another indicator that perhaps folks at Lexus are out of touch with their target market or just don’t care.

Drop Down Console
Although the drop down console may seem like a good concept, it is poorly executed in the GS350. I don’t like the GS350 drop down console at all. Simply put, the steering wheel obstructs the driver’s view of the switches in the drop down console and this is a safety hazard. I have had to memorize the switch locations by feel in order to use the more popular switches while driving. This configuration is ridiculous in this class of luxury automobile. Again, Lexus engineers have overlooked an important detail.

Instrument Cluster Illumination
The GS350 has several instrument cluster lighting adjustments in the visually inaccessible drop down console. It seems to me the Manual 1 – Manual 4 options have virtually no effect on the instrument cluster variable transparency glass, nor is there a satisfactory explanation of these setting in the owners manual. Like the tilt down driver side mirror and cassette tape player, this seems to be yet another useless Lexus feature.

Seat Memory
It seems normal that a driver will fine tune seat and mirror adjustments as they are driving. And it seems useful to be able to commit those setting to seat memory as fine adjustments are made. Unfortunately, the GS350 deactivates setting seat memory while the transmission is engaged. I agree that pressing a different seat setting button while driving can be a hazard; so disable that function while the car is in motion. But saving a seat setting (a two button procedure) is not a hazard while driving. But, trying to access the seat memory buttons on the door when the door is closed is a job better suited for a contortionist. That is, it is very difficult to access the seat memory buttons when the door is closed. Again, lack of attention to details.

There is a common thread that runs through most of the issues cited above; lack of attention to details. It seems that Lexus has over looked some ergonomic issues and put lots of energy into over engineering unnecessary safety into some of its subsystems. Unfortunately, these oversights and over engineered safety features diminish the driving experience one would expect from this class of Luxury Automobile. Most of these problems are not difficult or expensive to resolve, and in most cases can be resolved with a simple software upgrade.

Bottom line, today these flaws are annoying but tolerable. My concern is that with time they will become very annoying and intolerable.

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