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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 luxury sedan models, and the rear-wheel-drive Lexus IS line swings toward the performance end of the spectrum.
With its potent V6, precise steering and beautifully crafted interior, the Lexus IS 350 sedan is a compelling proposition for an entry-level luxury sedan. Earlier IS sedans were known for their cramped interiors, but the situation is much improved in the latest Lexus IS 350, making it more appealing for practical-minded consumers.
Used Lexus IS 350 Models
The current IS 350 was introduced for the 2014 model year.
The previous, second-generation Lexus IS 350 ran from 2006-'13. It was similar to the current model in its personality and amenities, but significantly smaller. Its V6 delivered quick acceleration, but lifeless steering meant this sport sedan wasn't particularly rewarding to drive. Inside, quality materials and excellent build quality helped the IS 350 feel luxurious even in standard spec. But taller drivers often took issue with the lack of headroom up front, while the backseat offered considerably less legroom than most competing luxury sport sedans of the same time period.
Throughout its run, this IS 350 came with a 306-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine. Rear-wheel drive was standard throughout the run, as was a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive was optional from 2011 and up.
Standard equipment varied over time but typically included 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, power front seats, leather upholstery and a premium sound system. Major options included xenon headlights, a Sport package (with 18-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension), heated and ventilated front seats, a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system and a navigation system.
Notable revisions for the second-generation models included a number of electronic technology upgrades in 2010 including a new iPod interface, enhanced Bluetooth and a hard-drive-based navigation system. The second generation's most marked visual changes came in 2009, when Lexus restyled the grille and added a two-tone interior option. Engineers also retuned the suspension that year in an attempt to make the IS 350 feel more agile.
Previously, Lexus offered the IS 300. It was available as a four-door sedan from 2001-'05, and a wagon from 2002 and up. This car was quick and fairly involving to drive, but it was even smaller than the second-generation Lexus IS. It wasn't particularly refined or luxurious either, as its cabin design was more reminiscent of a Toyota than a Lexus.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Lexus IS 350 page.