How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The 2014 Lexus GS350

Front view of the 2014 Lexus GS 350
The 2014 Lexus GS 350.

TireKicker Deep Truth #178: Where you drive a car has a lot to do with your impression of it.

That's not a huge secret.  It's why car companies spend kajillions of dollars to fly journalists from all over the country (and in some cases the world) to one specific spot to drive their newest machines.  Sedona, Carmel, La Jolla, Napa...almost always some wonderful scenic spot.  Rarely are there ride-and-drives in El Paso or Scranton.

Last year, I drove and wrote about the new-for-2013 Lexus GS350 and was somewhat let down...opining that the styling promised what the chassis did not delliver. Fortunately, I had driven the GS350 F-Sport the following week, wrote a combined review and found the F-Sport to be significantly more engaging.

At that time, I lived in Phoenix.  Although I am a careful driver (last ticket in 2002, last accident 1983, last at-fault accident 1977) I may in fact have been getting some agressions and frustrations out vicariously from behind the wheel and been looking for a bit of attitude, which the F-Sport happily provides.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Lexus GS350
2014 Lexus GS350.

But now, I'm home in my native California, specifically in beautiful Northern California, and I'm a lot more inclined to want to just enjoy the drive.  Easy to do when you're tooling along Highway 1 north of San Francisco, running through the redwoods on the Boonville road from Ukiah to Mendocino, or even just absorbing the green provided by the 10,000 trees in my new hometown of Sacramento.

A year, a relocation and a massive attitude adjustment all play into the 2014 GS350's favor.  Time has softened the novelty of the new GS styling.  I no longer see menace, just modern.  The 306 horsepower from the 3.5-liter V6 through an 8-speed automatic feels just right, as does the 19 miles per gallon city, 29 highway the EPA says you can expect.  And I've discovered the ECO/Normal/Sport switch isn't just for looks.  Select "Sport" and the shift points move up the tachometer, the suspension tightens up and you can feel a stronger connection between yourself and the road.

$47,700 (an $800 bump from 2013) buys you a list of standard equipment so long that rather than spark a worldwide pixel shortage by printing it in this space, we'll just link to it here.

Interior view of 2014 Lexus GS350
2014 Lexus GS350 interior.

The Lexus press fleet folks added some optional cherries on top, too: The Luxury Package (rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated front seats, rear sunshade, 18-inch wheels, adaptive variable suspension, Sport S+ Drive Mode, adaptive front lighting, LED fog lamps, Linear Espresso Wood trim, a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel, semi-aniline leather interior trim, 18-way power front seats with memory, a three-zone climate control system, and rear door manual sunshades) for $5,800...Navigation with a 12.3 inch screen and the Lexus Enform infotainment app suite including NavTraffic and NavWeather for $1,735 and intuitive park assist for $500.
With $910 delivery, processing and handling fee, the bottom line is $56,645.  And I can't find a thing wrong with it. Lexus' relentless pursuit of perfection may have reached its goal (at least until the next new technology or major shift in economy or consumer preferences comes along).  This year, I'm glad I recognize that.