Review: 2013 Lexus GS 350 Fsport AWD – Definitive Guide to the Flavors of the New GS

2013 lexus gs 350 gs350 fsport awd front
Lean mean – 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport AWD – machine

You have narrowed down your luxury sport sedan search to the new redesigned 2013 Lexus GS, but still having a difficult time figuring out which flavor of the GS to take home? This is understandable. Trying to decide which GS to get is not much unlike deciding between a selection of fine wines. Let me try to help with this decision.

The 2013 GS basically comes in three models: the standard GS350, the GS350 F Sport, and the 450h hybrid. You can tell these three apart visually, but you have to know what to look as the differences are subtle. The F Sport differentiates itself from the standard model with a more aggressive front bumper design that houses more pronounced air inlets as well as larger 19 inch sporty wheels and tires. This is where the differences end, as the two have identical profile and rear end treatments. One exception is the discreet trunk lid spoiler on the F Sport. The 450h has it’s own flare with yet another front grill design with the chrome spindle trim going all the way down to the bottom of the front valance. You can also tell the 450h coming and going because of the unique all LED headlights and its hidden tailpipes at the rear.

2013 lexus gs350 fsport awd interior

The interiors are nearly identical as well. Of course, the interior of the new GS is one of the best in the business. It has excellent materials, build quality, and functionality. The only way to identify the F Sport among the GS family on the inside are the aluminum racing style pedals. The F Sport also has a unique driver seat with power side bolsters, but visually it looks the same as in the other GS models. The hybrid differentiates itself with the optional real bamboo interior trim. Of course, the various models have some unique exterior and interior color and trim combinations.

What about under the hood and where the rubber meats the road? The standard GS350 and the F Sport have an identical 3.5 liter V6 motor, which is good for 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. However, the F Sport pushes the performance envelope with larger 14 inch ventilated brakes, sport tuned suspension, and the “Sport S+” selection on its Drive Mode Selector. The S+ mode goes a notch above where the S mode on the regular model leaves off. It further adjusts the throttle and transmission response and firms up the electrically controlled suspension. The S+ mode is also available on the hybrid model.

2013 lexus gs family
Big happy 2013 Lexus GS family

This is all great, but I still cannot tell the difference between S and S+ modes in every day driving. You may be able to tell on a race track by looking at lap times, but I could not tell on winding mountain road at legal speeds.

While the F Sport piles on the sports goodies, it also takes away some of the luxuries. If you are looking for the handy climate and audio controls in the rear arm rest – you will not find these on the F Sport. The sporty model also does not let you have heated rear seats or rear side window sun shades. The 450h gives you both: the sporty features and all the luxuries as well. There is a catch however. The hybrid GS 450h cannot be had with the AWD system. It sends all the power to the rear wheels.

The 450h propulsion system uses a special direct injected Atkinson cycle V6 engine, electric motors, and almost 400 lbs of batteries to produce a combined 338 hp. Lexus does not specify the combined torque of the 450h.  Despite the added weight – the hybrid is still very quick.

2013 lexus gs 350 fsport awd rear

How do all of GS models perform in the real world? I had the privilege of testing this GS 350 F Sport AWD and the 450h (please read 450h full review here). Both behave nearly identical in the corners and on some of rough pavement stretches of my regular driving loops. There is only about 200 lbs of weight difference between the AWD 350 and the RWD 450h. Both have practically identical Drive Mode suspension settings. It’s no surprise that both feel very confident around a curve, have well weighted steering, and very well balanced suspension. I have not sampled the standard GS350, but I imagine it’s not significantly different from these two.

TFLcar tirelessly performed 0-60 mph tests of all three of these models. These tests were performed at a mile above sea level and all three cars were within a fraction of a second from each other. We did have a very good result from the F Sport AWD. The all wheel drive system has tenacious grip and it helps produce a good 0-60 result. Please watch the videos at the bottom to learn the exact results.

The competition in this is segment is fierce.  I don’t mean to take you back to square one of the your sport luxury sedan decision, but this list of competitors is both impressive and daunting.

Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft  Passenger Volume cu-ft
2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport AWD $49,800 19/26 306/277
2013 Acura TL Sh-AWD $39,455 18/26 305/273 98.2
2013 Audi A6 3.0T Quattro $50,400 18/27 310/325  98
2013 BMW 535 xDrive $55,700 21/30 300/300 102
2013 Cadillac CTS 3.6 AWD $45,240 18/27 318/275  100.4
2013 Infiniti M37x $50,850 17/24 330/270 103.6
2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD $53,000 16/26 340/332 95.3
2013 Lincoln MKS 3.7 AWD $44,805 18/26 300/280  105.7
2013 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic $53,500 19/29 302/273 95.1
2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD $40,650 18/25 300/325 94

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Lexus GS350 F Sport AWD a Lease It! This was a tough decision to make. This $58,997 (as tested) GS is a very good car, but it lacks the top notch performance punch of some of its German rivals. The normally aspirated V6 left me wanting a little more in high altitude driving. Also, the 21.3 MPG average that I got after a week of mixed city/highway driving does not stand out from the crowd. I cannot believe I will say this, but I think it’s worth the extra $10,000 to get a top of the line GS 450h. The electrically assisted drivetrain feels quicker off the line and 30.5 MPG average is outstanding.

So, if you want to stay low key and get a very competitive sporty luxury sedan, then I would recommend the standard GS350. If you like the additional sporty flair that F Sport provides and do not mind missing a couple of luxury features, then F Sport is the ticket. And if you want to have everything (including excellent fuel economy) and do not need AWD capability, then it is very hard to beat the 450h.

Watch this GS F Sport take on the V8 powered Jaguar XF

Watch the standard GS 350 compared to the 450h

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.