Lexus wants to be a serious contender in the compact luxury segment, and that means doing battle with the likes of the Audi S4 and the BMW 335i. Accordingly, it has endowed the new IS350 with more aggressive styling and plenty of standard features -- this makes the IS 350 attractive to buyers who want to go quickly and look sharp for less money than comparable sedans.
The IS 350 sticks with the previous generation's 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Rear-wheel drive models get a new eight-speed automatic transmission, while those equipped with optional all-wheel drive stick with the six-speed automatic.
On the list of standard features are 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, leatherette upholstery, LED running lights, a power sunroof, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, keyless entry and start, an 8-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, HD Radio and a 7-inch color screen that controls the satellite radio, iPod connectivity and Lexus Safety Connect telematics.
Options include a navigation package, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, a backup camera, rear cross-path traffic alert, lane departure warning, a collision mitigation system and Lexus Enform suite of telematics. The available F Sport package includes revised front and rear styling, a sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, bigger brakes, adaptive dampers and steering settings on rear-wheel drive models.
The Audi S4 -- as well as being stylish and well-built -- packs a more powerful supercharged V6, standard all-wheel drive and is available with a manual transmission, but it's more expensive and has more complicated controls. The BMW 335i has a sweet turbocharged six-cylinder and an available manual transmission. It's also more efficient and spacious than the Lexus, but has blander styling and is much more expensive. The Cadillac ATS is striking to look at and has sharper dynamics, but the 3.6-liter V6 is not as refined, the CUE controls are frustrating and it has a tight back seat. The Volvo S60 has standard all-wheel drive with its powerful T6 turbocharged engine, is oozing with style and quality, but it's not as sharp to drive as most in the class.
The bottom line: The IS 350 is a well-appointed sedan in keeping with the Lexus tradition of refinement -- for buyers looking for balance between performance and luxury, it's worth a look.
The IS 350 is Lexus' compact performance sedan, boasting generous equipment and power levels. The new car uses the previous generation's 3.5-liter V6 with 306 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive models get a new 8-speed automatic transmission, while ones equipped with optional all-wheel drive stick with the 6-speed automatic.
Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, leatherette upholstery, LED running lights, a power sunroof, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, keyless entry and start, an eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, HD Radio and a 7-inch color screen to control satellite radio, iPod connectivity with USB and the Lexus Safety Connect telematics.
Options include a Navigation Package with a navigation system displayed in a 7-inch color screen with backup camera and Lexus Enform telematics that includes apps such as Bing and Pandora. A 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with surround sound is available with the Navigation Package. The Premium Package adds LED headlamps with heated and cooled front seats. The Luxury Package bundles leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, adaptive cruise control and a collision warning system. The Luxury Technology Package, available only with navigation, goes further with lane departure warning and intelligent high beams.
The F Sport package includes special front and rear styling and 18-inch wheels, an upgraded suspension and brakes, aluminum trim in the cabin, sport leather seats and an adaptive instrument cluster. F Sport rear-wheel drive cars are also equipped with an adaptive suspension, steering and drive mode system that tailors handling characteristics.
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|Build & Price|
Powerful, with standard all-wheel drive and immense style inside and out, but isn't the cheapest and controls are hard to use
Strong and smooth engine, relatively efficient and roomy, but has bland styling and a high price tag
Stylish, strong engine and a sharp handler, but the V6 isn't as refined by class standards, controls are confusing and back seat is tight
Great power from the turbocharged six-cylinder, stylish, well-made interior and standard all-wheel drive on T6 cars, but isn't the best handler