Test Drive Notes Library
- Interior. The interior is den-like. Makes you feel like putting your feet up and cracking open that long dormant copy of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. This thing is so den-like there ought to be a fireplace log option on the Lexus infotainment screen. It feels cozy and well appointed. Lots of black, perforated leather surfaces. All the stuff you touch, from the steering wheel to the armrests, is soft and inviting.
- Exterior. The IS is sharply designed. It’s small but has sporty lines and still looks good from its 2014 redesign.
- Power delivery. The Lexus, 3.5 liter V6 is nothing if not smooth. It provides 311 hp via an 8-speed automatic. There are three engine options. There’s an inline 2.0 liter, 241 hp four cylinder option in IS300. There’s a 260 hp V6 for the base all wheel drive IS300. And there’s the IS350’s 311 hp V6. Like most Lexus drivetrains, this one is easy-going, and should run trouble-free for a long time.
- Standard safety. The IS350 comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Blind spot and cross traffic are options on the lowest trim models.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Small. The IS350 is small on the inside. The front seats provide adequate but not spacious comfort. Head room is limited for those who have sprouted beyond 6-feet. Hip and shoulder room are just OK. If you like the feeling of spaciousness, you won’t like the IS. The back seat is also tight for two adults. Getting in and out is a bit awkward due to the low seating position and shape of the doors. Practically speaking, it’s a one- to two-person car.
- Handling. The IS350 holds the road well, but the steering still feels a bit numb. And the roadholding seems to come at the expense of comfort. The IS does fine on smooth pavement, but hit a pothole and the impact is transmitted up through the comfy perforated leather seats right to your backside.
- Outdated. The IS350 F-Sport, $52K as tested, feels like it’s due for an update to compete with the likes of the Audi A4 and BMW 330i. Those cars feel more spacious, have better combinations of ride and handling, and get better fuel economy. The IS350 has more power, but other than that, doesn’t seem like it’s more fun to drive. Or more pleasant to live in every day.
- Mouse.The IS350 uses Lexus’ execrable mouse controller to use the infotainment screen. We were constantly trying to get it to select the right menu item on the screen, and going past it . . . then overcorrecting and going past it in the other direction. Aside from the pure annoyance of trying to use it, it forces you to take your eyes off the road for too long.
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