The Lexus IS is getting previous. The Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and newcomer Genesis G70 provide a more energizing expertise — even the present BMW three Sequence, which is definitely a 12 months older than the IS, feels newer inside, with extra up-to-date tech. The Lexus model as a complete is a powerhouse within the luxurious automotive area, but the IS posts decrease gross sales numbers than all of its German opponents.
However that is to not say it is not aggressive — perhaps simply neglected. If you happen to’re in search of a substitute for these different compact luxurious sedans, there are methods by which the Lexus IS remains to be fairly interesting.
Pleasurable to drive, however missing motivation
Even with out the zippier F Sport package deal that I will get into later, the usual IS 350 is sporty sufficient. It could have been round longer than its stablemates, however the IS’ chassis nonetheless feels segment-competitive.
As an alternative of sending shockwaves via the automotive’s skeleton, an errant pothole can hit the automotive’s competent suspension and journey no farther than that. Because of this, the occasional bump within the street does little to distract my enjoyment behind the wheel. My delight is elevated by the IS’ steering, which presents nice heft to its motion and enough ranges of communication about what’s taking place at street stage. That culminates in a automotive that makes me need to drive it with gusto, even throughout mundane A-to-B journeys. That is how a sport sedan ought to make you’re feeling.
On paper, you would be led to consider that the IS 350 is a fast automotive, with its 5.6-second Zero-60 time. Its three.5-liter V6 engine is sweet for 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, which is sufficient energy for respectable preliminary acceleration, however for midrange punch, this V6 is sluggish and boring.
The eight-speed computerized transmission is in charge right here. On the freeway, whenever you put your foot down, the Lexus would not discover the gear that’ll put you within the coronary heart of the facility band. This transmission not often will get downshifts proper. If something, the transmission is programmed with an effectivity bent, however the IS is not that environment friendly. After per week and 461.2 miles of testing, I averaged 24.2 miles per gallon throughout largely freeway driving. The IS 350 is EPA-rated for 20/28 metropolis/freeway mpg.
The IS 350’s three.5-liter V6 lays down respectable horsepower and torque numbers, nevertheless it nonetheless feels sluggish.
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If you happen to’re in search of extra effectivity than what the V6 presents, the bottom IS 300 is supplied with a 2.Zero-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is a tad lower than different turbocharged four-cylinders within the class. However with two fewer cylinders, the IS remains to be not that environment friendly with simply 21/30 metropolis/freeway mpg. Plus, it is lots slower, with a Zero-60 time of 6.9 seconds.
For individuals who need one thing a skosh extra fascinating, the IS 350’s non-compulsory F Sport package deal incorporates a barely extra aggressive exterior, as nicely completely different suspension tuning, distinctive wheels with summer time tires and a limited-slip differential. Inside, the F Sport is just a little racier-looking, too, with distinctive gauges, aluminum pedals, a black headliner and sportier entrance seats with heating and air flow. That stated, as good because the F Sport pack is, given how properly tuned the IS 350’s chassis is from the get-go, I might go away this package deal — and its $three,195 value premium — on the desk.
Excessive-quality inside with a bevy of normal security tech
The Lexus IS presents extra commonplace security know-how than most of its opponents. Collision-mitigation braking, lane-keep help, computerized high-beams and adaptive cruise management all come at no further price. The adaptive cruise management solely works above roughly 30 miles per hour, nevertheless it’s a pleasant contact that it is even provided on the bottom IS 300.
This stage of normal driver-assistance tech is extra sturdy than what Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz provide within the base variations of their opponents. Even so, the IS’ $38,310 base value (plus $1,025 for vacation spot) is increased than many opponents’ beginning MSRPs. Solely the Genesis G70 presents the identical stage of driving support programs — and for much less cash, too.
The IS 350’s high-quality cabin is an enveloping and comfy place to be.
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Regardless of its quite a few security tech options, the place the IS falls flat is within the infotainment division. Heck, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t even provided, so that you’re simply left with Lexus Enform, which is probably the trade’s worst infotainment interface. Graphically, the system is agreeable, however your blood would possibly start to boil as quickly as you must work via Enform’s menus. That is as a result of the IS’ infotainment is managed via a joystick/mouse-based controller referred to as Distant Contact. Utilizing it’s as irritating as making an attempt to take away a thorn out of your foot with regionally anesthetized fingers. Subsequent variations of Distant Contact now use a touchpad-based controller, which is dangerous in a completely completely different method.
Fortunately, the remainder of the IS’ inside is a pleasing expertise. The cabin is remarkably enveloping due to the excessive middle console, nevertheless it by no means feels cramped from any seat in the home. The motive force’s seat, particularly, left me feeling recent after a protracted drive via the mountains. As well as, my back-seat passenger was additionally happy with the quantity of consolation she felt after our prolonged Sunday drive. In true Lexus vogue, the standard of supplies is on par for the section.
The 835-watt Mark Levinson premium audio system is a good complement to the cabin’s consolation, however there’s nonetheless room for enchancment there. The 15-speaker system is among the clearer and extra enveloping models available on the market, however the subwoofer typically sounds small and overburdened by heavier low frequencies. In reality, audio programs in vehicles extra just lately redesigned — even non-luxury automobiles — have impressed me extra as of late.
In spite of everything these years, the IS’ headlamps nonetheless look bizarre.
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The Lexus IS has been on sale in its present, third-generation type since 2013 and obtained a light-weight serving to of updates for 2017. But it nonetheless looks like a throwback when put next with the Audi A4, BMW three Sequence, Genesis G70 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Excluding the Mercedes, the opposite three vehicles have decrease base costs than the IS. Excluding the Genesis, although, you continue to must choice them to cost factors increased than that of my $48,444 (together with vacation spot) tester. However if you happen to’re keen to pay a number of thousand further, they will provide extra fashionable infotainment and driver-assistance options and most of them are extra fuel-efficient as nicely.
All these vehicles drive fairly nicely, too, and none of them have bizarre design traits about them. Odd appears to be like in all probability do not assist the IS transfer off showroom flooring. That spindle grille is way from universally praised and it is flanked by headlights which can be method too upright for the svelte and swoopy LED daytime operating lamps that accompany them.
The 2019 Lexus IS 350 is a enjoyable automotive to drive, however it will take an entire redesign to face shoulder to shoulder with the section’s finest gamers. The Audi A4, BMW three Sequence and Genesis G70 all have decrease beginning costs, but really feel higher executed from the get go.
Till a next-generation IS arrives, you would possibly need to give this automotive a cross and look as an alternative on the comparably priced 2019 Lexus ES. It is bigger and never as inherently sporty, however the ES presents related efficiency to the IS, all whereas being extra refined, spacious, tech-laden and comfy. Proper now, the IS simply leaves the center empty.