What's New for 2007
Introduced last year, the Lexus IS 350 heads into 2007 with a few changes meant to further its sporting credentials. A new "X" Package features a sport-tuned suspension and the possibility of deleting the moonroof. There's also a cutoff switch for the stability and traction control systems this year, a response to complaints from critics and consumers who felt the systems were too intrusive when maximum performance was desired.
Lexus is rather unique in that it happens to offer two entry-luxury sedans. The ES 350 is designed for optimum comfort and coddling, while the IS line is specialized for performance. This tactic allows the automaker to avoid the "jack of all trades" approach that other automakers must use with their singular entry-level offerings and therefore more directly appeal to consumer wants.
As the dedicated athletic sport sedan, the 2007 Lexus IS 350 carries on the tradition of the Lexus IS model. Along with its lesser-horsepower sibling, the IS 250, the IS 350 replaced the original IS 300 last year when it debuted as an all-new design. From a performance standpoint, the IS 350 simply rocks.
This rear-drive sedan packs a 306-hp V6 engine capable of propelling the car to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. Strong brakes allow short stopping distances and a double-wishbone front and independent multilink rear suspension, along with optional 18-inch wheels with performance tires, provide significant agility. Until Lexus' new flagship sports car arrives, the IS 350 is the most enjoyable model to drive in the brand's lineup.
In the entry-luxury sport sedan segment, the IS 350's strongest competition comes from the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G35. Finding a winner isn't easy. The Lexus excels in power, comfort and features. Only in the more esoteric areas of chassis response and driving enjoyment does the 330i prove to be superior. In reality, it's hard to go wrong with any of these great machines. The 2007 Lexus IS 350 is one of our top choices, and sport sedan shoppers should definitely give it strong consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Lexus IS 350 is a compact luxury sport sedan. Its singular trim level comes standard with 17-inch wheels, a moonroof, leather upholstery, power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control and a premium audio system with a six-disc CD changer and an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players. Additional features are mostly offered through optional packages. Heated and ventilated front seats, three-position driver and passenger seat memory, xenon HID headlights, adaptive front lighting, a power rear sunshade, 18-inch wheels and rain-sensing wipers are all available. So is a navigation system, a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, dynamic cruise control, parking assist and a sport-tuned suspension.
Powertrains and Performance
A 3.5-liter V6 drives the rear wheels. It makes 306 hp and 277 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is standard. Acceleration is quicker than that of many sports cars, and zero to 60 mph takes just 5.6 seconds.
Safety equipment for the 2007 Lexus IS 350 includes front and rear side curtain airbags and front-seat side airbags. Also standard is a full suite of electronic technologies -- traction control, stability control, brake assist and antilock brakes. Lexus groups them together as the "Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management" (VDIM) system. Optional is a Pre-Collision System (PCS) -- packaged with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control -- that uses a radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car. If the computer determines that a collision is unavoidable, it preemptively stiffens the suspension, retracts the front seatbelts and pre-initializes brake assist so increased braking is applied the instant the brake pedal is depressed. In crash tests, the IS earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for its performance in IIHS frontal offset and side-impact testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2007 Lexus IS 350 boasts impressive interior materials, an attractive cabin design and plenty of luxury amenities. Everything from the soft-touch dash and door panels to the supple leather seats exudes high quality. Like a lot of small luxury sedans, however, rear seating isn't as palatial, and the IS 350's wheelbase is 1.2 inches shorter than the 3 Series'. If you regularly carry adults -- or even large children -- in the rear seat, they won't be particularly happy back there.
With more than 300 hp, a great chassis and spectacular brakes, the IS 350 is an undeniable performance car. There's no discernible exhaust note, but it builds speed easily, the chassis is tenacious, and if there isn't going to be a manual transmission around, at least the paddles add some involvement to the driving experience. Though steering feel is somewhat lacking, the car's handling capabilities have been furthered this year via an optional sport-tuned suspension and a cutoff switch for the stability and traction control systems.