Lexus builds the luxury-auto world’s biggest multi-display screen—and even goes high-def.

It’s over a foot wide—and nobody has ever made one this big for a premium car before.

We're talking about Lexus’ new 12.3-inch high-resolution multimedia display, which becomes available with the optional navigation system in the 2013 GS. To give you an idea of the screen’s size, picture an iPad 2 held horizontally, and then lengthen the iPad about three inches.

Functionally speaking, though, the screen’s industry-first breadth serves a purpose—several of them, actually.

For starters, it allows for a higher resolution—Lexus’ best yet—which makes the screen’s content extremely sharp. It also allowed Lexus to introduce high-definition graphics that are much more advanced than what you’re used to seeing on a typical navigation display.

“The large 8-inch-wide screen that we introduced on the CT was as close to high definition as we could get,” says Charles Hubbard, senior dealer education administrator at Lexus College. “But this one goes even further,”

Additionally, the GS screen is wide enough to redefine how a driver interacts with multi-display functions, which is to say, it allows for more info to be shown at one time via a split-screen format.

In other words, picture your navigation screen on one side, taking up about eight inches as it normally does on a Lexus display screen, with other multi-display functionality on the other side, such as climate control and audio. With this setup, the driver and front passenger have a better, quicker view of more screen-operated functions.

Here’s another benefit: Many drivers would agree that it’s an axiom of life that the moment they most need the navigation will be the exact same moment the front passenger wants to access a different playlist on the iPod® or enter a different band on Pandora®. Now two screen views can co-exist in harmony, and for that matter, so can the driver and passenger.

If you’re a veteran Lexus GS owner, one of the first things you’ll notice when you test-drive the 2013 model (it arrives in February) is that the navigation screen has been relocated; it’s now positioned higher on the dash, making it easier to view.

The wider screen, of course, works in conjunction with the vehicle’s standard next-generation Remote Touch system, Lexus’ computer-mouse-style control device situated in the center console. The new version, among its other upgrades, allows the driver to control more functions, like climate, control, audio, and the optional navigation, without having to tap menu items in the display screen.

The higher screen positioning also looks good: the location is optimized for the driver, with an asymmetrical elegance that seems, at least to me, inspired by modern aviation design. Contributing to the aviation vibe are such additional touches as machined aluminum audio dials.

And realize this: For all that this new wide-screen provides, including the ability to simultaneously view navigation and adjust controls, you may just want it for the thrill it provides every morning when you get in and start the car.

“When you press the info button and fire this thing up, it just lights up across the dash. The wow-factor is huge,” says Hubbard. “To me, a big thing about it is aesthetics; this is just a neat, neat looking screen.”

Legal Disclaimer

Vehicle may be shown with optional equipment.
iPod is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
Pandora is a registered trademark of Pandora Media, Inc.