Three or four times a season I go to the Big A to catch an Angels game. I take the same freeway exit, come through the same stadium entrance and park in the same general area.
I then gather my things–because sticking around a few minutes to shotgun beers would be oh so wrong, Mr. Security Officer–and make the long walk from the parking lot equivalent of the cheap seats up to the MLB equivalent of a TSA line.
Along the way, I pass a couple parking rows up front that are reserved for Lexus vehicles.
“Stupid Lexus drivers,” I mutter under my breath. “Why do they always get the sweet parking spaces?”
However, the last time I went to the ballpark, I did not ask that rhetorical question because I was one of the stupid Lexus drivers for a change.
Actually, the joke was on me because instead of a Halo red 2019 GS350 F Sport model, the loaner was Ultrasonic Blue Mica, which brings to mind (and eye) Dodger blue.
Actually, it was fitting, because accompanying my wife and me to the game against the Seattle Mariners was a couple who root for those Chavez Ravine Dogs. We and our friends had brokered a truce that had them joining us for a game in Anaheim, which one supposes means we’ll now have to go watch nine innings at their joint.
(Maybe we can trick ’em and make it the 2020 All-Star Game–presented by Mastercard. Because there’s somethings money can’t buy–another All-Star MVP Award for Mike Trout springs to mind–for everything else, there’s Mastercard.)
Anyways, upon seeing his Dodger blue-ish chariot to the Angel game, my friend Eugene remarked, “Nice calipers” of the GS350’s orange brake pad squeezers that are visible through the front spokes of the 19-inch alloy wheels.
The ride over was actually eventful because approaching the solo car-pool ramp that connects the 55 North with the 5 North, I opened up the GS350’s V6, 3.5-liter, 311-horsepower, direct-injection-and-port-fuel-injection engine. “Feel the power,” I maniacally instructed my white-knuckled passengers.
Little did I know at the time that just around the bend, traffic had come to a complete stop, forcing me to slam the performance brakes and halt mere inches from the SUV in front of me.
“Good brakes,” Eugene said matter-of-factly.
Many of the Lexus standard “safety features” are dedicated to stopping power: anti-lock braking, traction control, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, vehicle stability control, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management. Those prevent the sedan from becoming a squirrely little bugger.
The engine makes 280 pound-feet of torque, and if you really want to feel the power you can forgo the eight-speed automatic transmission in favor of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The GS350 can shift between eco, normal and sport driving modes. Part of the F Sport package, which comes at no additional charge, are a specially tuned Adaptive Variable Suspension and variable gear-ratio steering.
The same package also includes a black headliner, aluminum interior trim, rain-sensing wipers, a power rear sunshade, a performance driver’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats and F Sport unique front fascia and grille, badging, rear valence and rear lip spoiler.
The perforated, leather-trimmed driver’s seat feels as if it’s holding you in place as you scoot. That throne has a driver memory system to keep it where you want it and can be power adjusted 10 ways.
Power also applies to such standard features as the folding exterior mirrors; the tilt and telescopic steering column; and the one-touch, open-and-close, tilt-or-slide moonroof.
Standard also applies to the push button stop/start; carpeted floor mats; genuine wood interior trim; the shift knob and steering wheel being wrapped in leather; the dual zone climate control and automatic recirculation with a smog sensor and air filter; and the 12.3-inch touchscreen for navigation and entertainment (CDs, DVDs and SiriusXM).
The GS350 comes with a three-month trial subscription to the satellite radio service. Lexus also includes for the first 10 years (!) of ownership its Enform Safety Connect, a subscription-based telematics system that provides communications, roadside assistance, car safety, remote diagnostics, hands-free calling and destination-assistance services. You get a one-year trial of the Lexus Enform Remote also.
Standard safety features include a backup monitor; a tire-pressure monitor; an array of airbags; LED daytime running lamps; bi-LED dynamic auto-leveling headlamps; a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert; and something known as the Lexus Safety System. This features intelligent high-beam headlamps, an all-speed dynamic radar cruise control and lane-keep, lane-departure, pre-collision and pedestrian-detection alerts.
For all that, the base manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) comes in at $52,360.
However, my test vehicle also included extras, such as: illuminated door sills ($425); intuitive park assist ($500); a one-touch power trunk ($400); a color head-up display ($900); those orange brake calipers ($300); premium triple-beam LED headlamps ($1,600); limited slip differential ($500); Lexus Dynamic Handling with Dynamic Rear Steering ($1,700); an 835-watt Mark Levinson premium surround sound audio system with 17 speakers ($1,380); and $330 for a trunk mat, cargo net, wheel locks and a rear bumper applique.
With all of that, and a $1,025 fee for delivery, processing and handling, brings the total MSRP up to $60,980.
Lexus offers a four-year or 50,000-mile (whichever comes first) basic warranty, a six-year or 70,000-mile powertrain warranty and a six-years and unlimited miles corrosion perforation warranty.
Miles per gallon have been rated at 19 in the city and 27 on the highway for 22 combined mpg, with annual fuel costs pegged at $2,050. You’ll be spending $3,250 more in fuel costs over five years compared to the average new car. (Keep in mind you’ll be feeding that performance engine premium gasoline.)
The EPA smog rating on a one to 10 scale (10 being best) is a five, and for fuel economy and greenhouse gases it’s a four.
No Government 5-Star Safety Ratings for the 2019 GS350 F Sport were available at this Ride Me was written.
Postscript: Like I did with my sweet Lexus parking space, the Angels won!
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.