The Lexus IS is all-new this year with an edgier exterior and a more refined interior than the previous model. The spindle grille is the most noticeable change outside and has it falling in line with the rest of the Lexus lineup. Inside, the upgrades make it more worthy of its luxury image, and although the engines carry over from last year, combined with the upgraded interior, it’s simply more fun to drive.
Driving the Lexus IS 350, which falls in the middle between the IS 250 and IS 350 F-Sport, it feels for all the world like they had a bulls-eye with a bunch of German manufacturers on the wall of the design team’s offices. Does it match up to the likes of BMW or Audi? Not quite, but it’s darn close and those guys might want to think about looking over their shoulders, just in case.
The IS 350 has a 3.5 liter V6 with 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque that easily propel this sports sedan along the highway. It’s nothing short of fun maneuvering into heavy traffic where the only thing holding you back is your own common sense. It’s hard though, especially in Sport mode, not to just mash your foot down on that pedal and let it go.
Steering is tight, well-balanced and very responsive so all that power is easily managed without feeling like the Lexus IS 350 is getting away from you. Even in the AWD variant tested, it has a performance vibe that will make you wish there was a manual transmission available instead of the standard 6-speed automatic.
The Lexus IS 350, as tested, comes in at $50,165 which isn’t a bargain, but compared to those German guys, it looks pretty darn good. Especially when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole is a member of the New England Motor Press Association and also writes for Automotive IT News, NerdApproved, and GeekMom. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.