The 2015 Lexus IS 350 Review: The IS is Lexus answer to the BMW 3 Series, along with other contenders in the compact luxury sports sedan field. It flaunts dramatic styling, with the official Lexus spindle grille up front. This is as dramatic and imposing as the 1958 Edsel’s vertical slit must have seemed, and it’s more stunning than beautiful. It juts out defiantly, and the rest of the car is hardly a shrinking violet either.
The side panels are sliced and worked like the clay models they used to use for auto designs, there’s even a line tracing along the lower body sides and right up into the sharply-terminated tail lamps. Someone was having a good time in the Lexus styling studios and their directive was surely, “No boring cars, please!”
All IS models have V6 engines. The IS 250, which I drove at the beginning of this year, comes with a solid 204-horsepower 2.5- liter mill. The IS 350, like my Ultra White test car, drops in the 306-horsepower 3.5-liter version, so it moves the same sized (but 132-pounds-heavier) car from zero to 60 mph more than two seconds faster (5.6 seconds).
The IS 250 and 350 come as rear-wheel-drive cars, like the 3 Series, and also offer all-wheel drive (AWD), which they call “all-weather drive.” This nomenclature helps you understand that it’s all for extra safety and not about going off road to your favorite campsite. The AWD system normally divides power equally between the front and rear, but can go as much as 30-70 when needed for better traction in bad weather.
When you select the brawnier IS 350 over the IS 250, you pay at the pump for it, but not as much as you might think. My IS 250 tester gave me 21.8 miles per gallon while the IS 350 delivered 18.8 mpg. That 3 mpg difference adds up over the years, but you’ll be having more fun for the entire length of the lease.
The IS 350 gets EPA Green Scores of 5 and 5, decent for a relatively high performance car.
You can add the F Sport package for $3,740 to dress up your IS. Naturally, there’s all the leather covered stuff and electronic wizardry for entertainment and safety. The eight-inch display screen in my tester is controlled by the Remote Touch Interface (RTI) joystick on the console.
There’s a mind-boggling set of choices for entertainment and other options, especially if you order the Navigation system ($2,995), which comes with Mark Levinson super audio, with its 835 watts of power through 15 speakers.
2015 IS 350s have some nice little upgrades after the redone 2014s stretched the wheelbase three inches and delivered the bolder styling. One is the Siri Eyes Free, which leverages your phone’s brain to let you perform some functions hands-free as you’re driving. Other updates this year include gridlines in the rear-view backup monitor, and Lexus Enform Remote, which ties the already sophisticated electronics to a phone app (iPhone or Android), so you can do things like unlock the doors or start the climate control from your phone.
The IS comes with an alphabet soup of safety acronyms, such as ABS (anti-lock braking system), EBD (electronic brake distribution), TRAC (traction control), and VSC (vehicle stability control). It’s also equipped with electronic power steering, which lightens the car by removing the hydraulic steering pump from the engine, improves mileage a little too, and lets you choose how much or little power assist you’d like.
Then, there’s VGRS, Variable Gear Ratio Steering. Along with the Adaptive Variable Suspension, VGRS lets you set up the IS 350 just the way you want it. We live in a world of mass production but endless customization. Adaptive Variable Suspension gives you the choice, from a console-mounted dial, of selecting Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport +. You find the road and then select the appropriate setting.
On the way to a five-star (top) U.S. Government safety rating, other safety acronyms come into the picture, too, such as BSM (blind spot monitoring), LDA (lane departure alert), and much more. All of the electronic marvels of an IS 350 cannot be contained in one review.
My IS 350 test car, with the F Sport Package, Navigation / Audio upgrade, and a few other goodies, came to $48,725. My IS 250 tester from before, which looked much the same, totaled $40,870. You decide if the eight grand difference is worth it for the 2.1 seconds of speed and the F Sport features.
By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net
The 2015 Lexus IS 350 Bottom Line Review provided by:
Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
The Bottom Line: The Lexus IS 350 is comfortable to ride in, fun to approach in the parking lot, and loads of fun to drive. It is not a BMW, but you could easily cross-shop it, and possibly choose it over the 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class, or other compact sport sedan. And maybe, just for those reasons alone, you should “Drive one, Buy one, Today ©”. Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
“Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net - And remember: “You Are What You Drive ©”
Column Name: The IS is Lexus answer to the BMW 3 Series
Topic: The 2015 Lexus IS 350
Word Count: 951
Photo Caption: The 2015 Lexus IS 350
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