Most entry-level luxury sedans are a compromise between luxury comforts and performance attributes. The horsepower might be there, but the handling might be on the softer side to accommodate as many different tastes as possible. Lexus, however, provides a clever alternative to this compromise -- the company offers two entry-level sedan models, with the IS line specialized for performance.
With its potent V6 engine, sharp reflexes, aggressive exterior styling and the latest techno-gadgets, the IS 350 sedan is certainly compelling. There are some drawbacks, such as cramped rear legroom and uncommunicative steering. But if you're smitten with the IS 350's styling and refinement, it has just enough spice to keep things interesting.
Current Lexus IS 350
The Lexus IS 350 is in the middle of the Lexus IS line, between the IS 250 and the IS F. It features a robust 3.5-liter V6 that pumps out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel or all-wheel drive is offered, and a six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Picking out an IS 350 is pretty simple, as it comes fairly loaded. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, leather seats, power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, Bluetooth and a 13-speaker sound system. Optional items include a voice-activated navigation system, heated and ventilated seats, adaptive headlights, a Mark Levinson 14-speaker surround-sound system and an F Sport package that includes a sport-tuned suspension and sport seats.
In reviews and road tests, our editors found the Lexus IS 350 to be a dynamic sport sedan. As impressive as its quickness is the engine's broad and eager power spread. Handling is sharp, but the steering doesn't provide much feedback. The car's most significant drawback is a minimal amount of rear legroom, meaning the backseat is best suited for kids. Still, the IS 350 is a sport-oriented luxury sedan that's perfectly suitable for daily commutes.
Used Lexus IS 350 Models
The present-generation IS 350 was introduced for the 2006 model year. These earlier cars are pretty much the same as the current model, though there have been a few changes along the way. For 2009, Lexus restyled the grille, retuned the suspension and added a two-tone interior option. For 2010, there were a number of technology upgrades including a new iPod interface, enhanced Bluetooth and a hard-drive-based navigation system (compared to the earlier DVD-based unit). Notably, all 2006-'10 IS 350s were only offered with rear-wheel drive.
Previously, Lexus offered the IS 300. Available as a four-door sedan or wagon, the IS 300 was known for its outstanding driving dynamics but rather drab cabin. It also wasn't as luxurious, roomy or powerful as the current IS 350, but as an affordable used luxury sport sedan, it's worth a look. It was sold from 2001-'05.
Read the most recent 2014 Lexus IS 350 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Lexus IS 350 page.