2008 Lexus IS 350 Review

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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Powerful V6 engine, high level of refinement and interior quality, advanced safety technology.
  • Legroom is tight in back, headroom is tight everywhere, no manual transmission is available.

The 2008 Lexus IS 350 is one of our top choices for a small luxury sport sedan, thanks to its 306-horsepower V6, sophisticated suspension and generous list of features.

Vehicle overview

Earlier this decade, Lexus decided to try its hand in the ultra-competitive compact sport sedan segment by introducing the rear-wheel-drive IS. But as most folks know, squaring off against the perennial champ, the BMW 3 Series, is like stepping onto a tennis court and seeing Roger Federer waiting for you on the other side.

The IS 300 was a solid performer with sharp reflexes, but it wasn't really a threat to the benchmark Bimmer. Its lackluster cabin was more glorified Toyota than true Lexus, and its shortage of legroom in back didn't help matters either.

A couple of years ago, Lexus improved its ranking by replacing the IS 300 with the IS 350. More luxurious and more sporting than their predecessor, the 350 and its less powerful 250 twin are pretty much identical except for their V6 engines. As one might surmise, the IS 350 has a larger, more powerful engine. Either way, the cabin in the IS is a model of refinement and classy design, while most cutting-edge luxury features are either standard or optional.

For the 2008 Lexus IS 350, a handful of changes take place, such as a new "Liquid Graphite" finish for the wheels, recalibrated steering for better feel and revised front seatbacks to allow more rear legroom. Still, don't expect the IS to challenge a Maybach any time soon.

Being a member of Lexus' dedicated sport sedan line, the IS 350 packs a sophisticated suspension, powerful brakes and a ripping, 306-hp V6 under its neatly tailored sheet metal. From a performance standpoint, the IS 350 simply rocks -- it sprints to 60 in 5.6 seconds, sticks in the corners like a cat to a screen door and stops in short order.

In addition to facing the BMW 335i, the 2008 Lexus IS 350 slugs it out with other top entry-level luxury sport sedans like the Audi A4, Cadillac CTS and Infiniti G35. It's pretty much a toss-up except for the Bimmer, which noses ahead of the pack in acceleration and the more esoteric areas of chassis response and driving enjoyment. In reality, it's hard to go wrong with any of these great machines. With its athletic moves, generous features list and impressive overall quality and reliability record, the IS 350 is one of our top choices, and sport sedan shoppers should definitely give it strong consideration.

2008 Lexus IS 350 models

The 2008 Lexus IS 350 is a compact luxury sport sedan. Available in a single trim level, its standard features include 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, leather seating, power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control and a premium audio system with a six-disc CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack.

Optional features (mostly offered through packages) include heated and ventilated front seats, memory function for the driver and passenger seat, adaptive bi-xenon HID headlights, a power rear sunshade, 18-inch wheels and rain-sensing wipers. Also available are a navigation system, a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, active cruise control, parking assist and a sport-tuned suspension.

2008 Highlights

For the 2008 Lexus IS 350, a handful of minor changes take place, including a new "Liquid Graphite" finish for the wheels, recalibrated steering for better feel, a new coin holder and revised front seatbacks that provide more rear legroom.

Performance & mpg

A 3.5-liter V6 that makes an impressive 306 hp and 277 pound-feet of torque drives the rear wheels. The sole transmission choice is a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The IS 350 accelerates with the verve of a sports car, as zero to 60 mph takes just 5.6 seconds. Although the transmission offers quick manual-style gearchanges, it doesn't match revs on downshifts like some of its rivals' automatics do.

Revised fuel economy for 2008 is 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, which is on par with the rest of this class.


Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control and a full complement of airbags (including front-seat side and full side curtain) are all standard. Optional is a pre-collision system (PCS). PCS comes packaged with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which uses the radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car. If the computer determines that a collision is unavoidable, it pre-emptively stiffens the suspension, retracts the front seatbelts and pre-initializes brake assist so full braking is applied the instant the brake pedal is depressed.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the IS earned the best-possible rating of "Good" for its performance in both frontal offset and side-impact tests.


With more than 300 hp, a finely tuned chassis and spectacular brakes, the IS 350 is an undeniable performance car. There's no discernible exhaust note, so don't expect aural delight, but the IS 350 effortlessly leaps to speed. The chassis is buttoned down, grip is impressive and although there isn't a manual transmission, at least the automatic's paddles add some involvement to the driving experience. Though steering feel is somewhat lacking, the action is laser-beam precise, making it easy to choose and hold a line through the curves. Should the standard chassis setup still not be enough, die-hard enthusiasts may opt for the optional X Package that includes a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch summer tires.


The 2008 Lexus IS 350 boasts impressive interior materials, an attractive cabin design and plenty of luxury amenities. Everything from the wood-tone and metallic accents to the supple leather upholstery exudes high quality. Lexus also offers one of the best electronics interfaces in the luxury game, with easy-to-use controls. The optional navigation system and accompanying touchscreen are particularly friendly.

Most small luxury sport sedans' rear seating isn't exactly palatial, but this is particularly true with the IS 350. Even with this year's marginal improvement in legroom (that comes via scooped-out front seatbacks), adults or even large children may not be happy in the rear seat on long road trips -- especially with a taller driver up front. Headroom is also in short supply in both the front and rear. If you're at all above average in size, the IS may prove to be no more spacious than a luxury coupe.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Lexus IS 350.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

5 out of 5 stars
Very fine vehicle
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
I just bought a 2008 loaded Lexus IS350 w/7,000 miles...this is my 5th Lexus, the others being SUV's, but have also owned 3 BMW's, including a wonderful M3. The IS350 is a great car. 98% of my driving is city, suburb or highway and it performs flawlessly. If I drove major "twisties" everyday, maybe I would have bought another BMW, but few of us have the "true" abilities to push either Lexus or BMW to their honest limits... It has 90% of the BMW capabilities, IMHO, plus a quieter ride, better interior, better exterior, more reliability and at least an equal resale value. It doesn't scream "look at me"...hey, even the engine and muffler are quiet, but power is vastly available when you want it.
4.88 out of 5 stars
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
This car is beyond words. I just purchased this car and I can not stop driving this thing. It is my first luxury sports sedan and first car I am owning. I have to say I am very impressed with the overall quality of this car. It is 4 years old now (2008 model) but shows terrific condition and durability. The car has a stunning look and turns heads everywhere I go. The interior is Lexus quality at its finest. They put top notch materials in this car and the cabin is a pleasure to be in. Waking up every morning to this car is like a dream come true. Get this car you will not regret it!
4.5 out of 5 stars
IS 350
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Have only put 500 miles on our new black with cashmere interior. Initial observataions: build quality excellent, power dramatic. Interior very comfortable for two in the front seats; I think the back seats are for children only. The placement of the driver's power window buttons is odd and uncomfortable to access, otherwise interior layout is good. Despite the large engine, I have so far averaged 26 mpg for mostly highway driving. That is outstanding! Test drove one with the sport suspension; the wife thought it was much too harsh - there really is quite a difference so you should try both.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Great Car
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Bottom Line- Ultimate compromise between sport and luxury. Very quick, smooth, glides over nicks and crannies in the road. I spend plenty of time on the road- love the silent ride! On the contrary, when the pedal hits the mat, the engine makes an extremely defined roar. Comfortable as hell up front, not so in the back. If I was at the track every day, 335i would be my choice. If I needed a car that would accommodate my daily driving with comfort and performance- no brainer- IS350. Excellent Audio.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Lexus IS 350

Used 2008 Lexus IS 350 Overview

The Used 2008 Lexus IS 350 is offered in the following submodels: IS 350 Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A). The Used 2008 Lexus IS 350 comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2008 Lexus IS 350 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 6 yr./ 70000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Lexus IS 350?

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Which used 2008 Lexus IS 350s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Lexus IS 350 for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Lexus IS 350.

Can't find a used 2008 Lexus IS 350s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Lexus IS 350 for sale - 2 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $13,334.

Find a used Lexus for sale - 6 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $9,364.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus IS 350 for sale - 2 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $11,991.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus for sale - 8 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $22,127.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 Lexus IS 350?

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.

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