Driving a convertible has always been about freedom, specifically freedom of choice: top up when conditions are unfriendly or unwarranted, or top down to soak in the warm summer sun or cool moonlit breezes. And today it seems there are more freedom-seekers than ever before, judging by the growing number of premium retractable-hardtop convertibles. Lexus' offering in this segment is the IS 350C. Like its rivals, the Lexus IS 350C combines the timeless allure of an open-roof car with the refinement and all-season functionality of a luxury coupe.
Closed up tight, the 350C looks like a resculpted coupe version of the IS four-door sedan, albeit one with a rather large rear end. At the touch of a button, the three-piece aluminum hardtop roof and side windows elegantly glide away in about 20 seconds, revealing an upscale cabin with high-quality materials. The IS 350C has some faults, but overall it should provide all the fresh air and four-season freedom that two occupants (four in a pinch) could reasonably desire.
Current Lexus IS 350C
The Lexus IS 350C is a four-passenger retractable-hardtop convertible. Power is supplied by a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. It's loaded with all the expected premium amenities, including dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry and eight-way power front seats with easy rear-seat access at the touch of a button. Pop-up rear rollover bars add an extra margin of safety, as do front and rear side curtain airbags, a rarity among convertibles. Major options include a 12-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, a navigation system, adaptive cruise control and heated and ventilated front seats.
In reviews, our editors have lauded the Lexus IS 350C's coupelike isolation with the top up, and we've also given high marks to its luxurious interior. The backseat is quite cramped, however, and while trunk space measures nearly 11 cubic feet with the top up, that shrinks to a measly 2.5 cubes with the top stowed. On the bright side, one golf bag will still fit with the top down, but don't expect to add anything else.
On the move, the IS 350C's handling is competent, and the ride is supple as long as you stick with the standard 17-inch wheels. Acceleration is also quite quick thanks to the strong yet still smooth V6. Overall, the IS 350 convertible's relaxed demeanor, sharp styling (except for that bulbous rear end) and Lexus' typical high-quality craftsmanship results in a very composed and classy way to enjoy the scenery.
Used Lexus IS 350C Models
The Lexus IS 350C debuted for the 2010 model year. There haven't been any significant changes to the car since.