Lexus’ GS 350 has only been on sale for a year but the car is already receiving its first round of updates, just in time for the start of the 2014 model year. The highlight is the addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters instead of the previous six-speeder.

The eight-speed auto is only available on rear-wheel-drive models and is said to boost performance as well as improve fuel economy. EPA figures are yet to be released, but Lexus says owners of the GS 350 with the eight-speed auto can expect 19/29 mpg city/highway and 23 mpg combined.

Drivers can select a SPORT S mode, where the transmission will hold gears longer under acceleration. The engine’s throttle mapping will also deliver a sharper response and the instrument cluster will glow red.

No changes have been made to the engine of the GS 350, which remains a 3.5-liter V-6 that delivers a peak 306 horsepower. Those seeking more power should look elsewhere or wait for a new GS F model currently in the works.

Also new for 2014 is the addition of Apple’s Siri Eyes Free function. Compatible with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 models forward, Siri lets you call contacts, select and play music from iTunes, get turn-by-turn navigation through Siri and Apple maps, and much more--hands free. It will also read notifications and allow you to add reminders, calendar appointments and notes.

Other changes for the 2014 GS 350 include flush mounted sensors for the parking assist, a color display for the head-up display, rear cross traffic alert for the blind sport monitor, a powered trunk opener, and a new Luxury pack with LED foglamps, chrome finished alloys and an audio control panel for passengers in the back. The Lexus Night View system has also been discontinued.

For more information, check out the full review on our sister site The Car Connection.


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