Used 2010 Lexus IS 350 C
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2010 Lexus IS 350C offers the refinement and sophistication expected of Toyota's luxury division, but its transformation from sedan to convertible isn't as graceful as other brands' entries.
A classic convertible should exude an undeniable grace. It should make you feel good about yourself, the world around you and the car that's taking you through it. The 2010 Lexus IS 350C certainly has the ability to do all that as a luxury retractable-hardtop convertible with a comfortable ride and world-class interior craftsmanship. However, a classic convertible must also exude classic styling and have the ability to minimize the compromises inherent to any vehicle that's had its roof lopped off.
The IS 350C is based on the Lexus IS sedan and features the more powerful of two available engines (the IS 250C is covered in a separate model review). As with any convertible, the roof is the big story here. With a touch of a button located to the left of the steering wheel, the three-panel roof gracefully folds and tucks itself down into the trunk in an impressively quick 20 seconds.
With the roof raised, the cabin quells wind noise almost as well as a traditional coupe and better than other retractable hardtops. Unfortunately, this roof design and convertible transformation isn't as elegantly executed as on competitors such as the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and Volvo C70.
From a strictly aesthetic standpoint, the car's hind quarters have been engorged to swallow the roof, creating the appearance from profile that the front of an IS sedan was welded to the back of a much bigger coupe. From a more practical perspective, the rising beltline and tall tail limit visibility and make the cramped backseat even more claustrophobic. And despite this big back end, trunk space is no better than in competitors (it's actually a bit worse in some ways).
Therefore, the IS 350C makes more concessions to top-down motoring than its rivals. However, there is still plenty to like if Lexus' reliability, service, comfort and quality are top priorities. Indeed, the cabin boasts flawless materials and construction, while a long list of standard and optional features provides goodies one expects from a vehicle in this price range.
The 306-horsepower V6 is energetic to say the least, easily matching or bettering its competitors' acceleration. While the IS 250C's smaller V6 boasts better fuel economy, the 350C is the choice for those who need that extra bit of get-up-and-go. And although acceleration may be brisk, the IS is still tuned for comfort rather than spirited driving.
Overall, the 2010 Lexus IS 350C is a civilized touring convertible that'll make you feel good about a weekend drive through the country. However, the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and Volvo C70 will do that for about the same price without the functional and styling compromises the IS C makes. In this way, the IS C doesn't quite clear the bar for a class-leading classic convertible.
2010 Lexus IS 350 C configurations
The 2010 Lexus IS 350C is a four-passenger convertible with a fully automatic retractable hardtop. It is technically available in a single trim level, but there is also an IS 250C available that is essentially the same car with a smaller engine and fewer features.
Standard equipment on the IS 350C includes 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated side mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, a power tilt-telescoping steering column, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming mirror, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer and USB and auxiliary audio jacks.
The Luxury Package adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights, automatic wipers, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, automatic seat return for rear seat entry, upgraded leather upholstery, driver memory settings, heated and ventilated front seats and different wood trim. The bi-xenons and heated/ventilated seats are available as stand-alone options. A navigation system with real-time traffic and a back-up camera is also an option and can be bundled with a 12-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system. Other extras include 18-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control (includes collision preparation features) and a variety of Lexus F-Sport performance upgrade items.
Performance & mpg
The rear-wheel-drive IS 350C is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 good for 306 hp and 277 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with shift paddles is standard. Lexus estimates a 0-60 time of about 6 seconds, which is on par with the Infiniti G37 convertible. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined.
The 2010 Lexus IS 350C comes standard with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, front-seat side curtain airbags, front-seat knee airbags and Lexus Safety Connect emergency telematics. Included with the optional adaptive cruise control is Lexus' Pre-Collision System, which can retract the front seatbelts and activate brake assist immediately when the driver presses the brake pedal if an impending collision is detected.
The 2010 Lexus IS 350C offers the sort of refined ride you'd expect from Toyota's luxury division. Wind noise is impressively hushed for a convertible, even the hardtop variety, and the structure feels tight over body-bending road imperfections. While a less powerful IS 250C is available, the 350C is the car you want if anything close to rapid acceleration is in order. This 3.5-liter V6 is a truly sweet engine, providing smooth, seamless power. The IS C isn't exactly a blast to drive, though, as it's hampered by slow, lifeless steering and a suspension setup tuned more for comfort than handling. A variety of F-Sport accessories are available to spice things up should you so desire.
The IS 350C boasts a finely crafted interior, with top-notch materials, excellent fit and finish, and an attractively sporty design. Cars with the navigation system have an easy-to-understand electronics interface that utilizes both physical buttons and a touchscreen display. However, we'd prefer a redundant display for climate and audio readouts, as both disappear when you're viewing the navigation system.
Lexus thoughtfully programmed the ventilation system to automatically adjust itself based on whether the top is raised or lowered, altering the volume and distribution of air. The same goes for the audio system, which automatically changes the equalizer settings based on additional wind noise.
You expect backseats in a convertible to be small, and the IS C obliges -- it's notably cramped for leg- and shoulder room compared to its competitors. Rear visibility is also compromised by a rising beltline, large rear headrests and a small rear window. With the roof raised, the trunk offers a decent 10.8 cubic feet of capacity, but it shrinks to a puny 2.4 cubic feet with it lowered. That's too small for a standard roller suitcase, but the remaining space has been precisely shaped to accommodate a golf bag.
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More About This Model
Like the career stats of Barry Bonds, this test-drive of the 2010 Lexus IS 350 C comes with a great big asterisk. You see, our test car was pumped full of performance-enhancing features from the Lexus F-Sport catalog, altering virtually every aspect that would affect one's driving impressions of this all-new hardtop convertible.
Indeed, this showcase proved the IS C has fun-to-drive potential when equipped with the right bits and pieces, but is ultimately unrepresentative of the car that will leave the dealer lot 99 percent of the time. As such, this review will focus more on those non-performance aspects the F-Sport accessories didn't affect.
As its name would suggest, the IS 350 C is based on Lexus' compact IS sedan and features a fully automated retractable hardtop. From the front bumper to the driver door, the C appears identical to the sleek, wedgelike sedan. From the driver door back, things get awkward, with a bulbous rear end that's more Chrysler Sebring than BMW 3 Series.
Not only is the styling less than elegant, but the roof design limits visibility more than most hardtop designs. On the upside, the trunk has been specifically designed to accommodate a set of golf clubs (though nothing else) when the roof is lowered, something not possible in any other solid-roofed rival.
F-Sport accessories aside, the 2010 Lexus IS 350 C is an impeccably built luxury convertible that'll make for classy warm-weather transportation. It boasts more refinement than the Infiniti G37 and Volvo C70 hardtop convertibles, while the stylish forthcoming ragtop variant of the Audi A5 only comes with a cloth roof. Yet there's little that sets this Lexus above BMW's more practical, more attractive and more capable 3 Series convertible. Indeed, with or without the asterisk, the IS 350 C isn't quite a hall of famer.
Used 2010 Lexus IS 350 C Overview
The Used 2010 Lexus IS 350 C is offered in the following submodels: IS 350 C Convertible. Available styles include 2dr Convertible (3.5L 6cyl 6A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2010 Lexus IS 350 C?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.