2009 Lexus IS 350
The entry-level models from the majority of luxury automakers tend to leave most wanting more. More power, more capable handling, just more performance in general. So you have to give credit to Lexus who seems to have gotten things just about right with their newest IS sport sedans. Like many things in life, the key to their success is rooted in keeping it simple.
The IS “family” is actually two cars, the IS 250 and it’s more powerful sibling, the IS 350. For the sake of satisfying your performance needs, the IS 350 is the clear choice between the two versions, with a strong 3.5-liter V6 that produces 306 horses and 277 lb-ft of torque that utilizes Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i). Those numbers push the rear-wheel drive sedan to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds; as fast as many sports cars. Although a manual would be icing on the cake, the IS 350 only comes with a six-speed automatic with wheel-mounted paddle shifters. EPA fuel economy estimates are 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. Enhancing handling, the IS 350 comes with a double-wishbone front suspension, a high-mount upper control arm, and a liquid-filled bushing at the rear to minimize vibration and harshness. The multilink rear suspension emphasizes precise control of geometry in all dynamic conditions, helping make the Lexus IS sport sedans ultra-stable for confident driving. High-strength steel and aluminum suspension components reduce unsprung weight, helping the Lexus IS remain stable on bumpy surfaces and improving ride comfort.
IS 350 Interior
For better or worse, choosing a trim level is easy, there’s only one. Thankfully that includes a long list of amenities including 17-inch wheels, leather seats, power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, a moonroof and an audio system with a six-CD changer. A voice-activated navigation system is also available. As a separate Luxury package, buyers can opt for heated and ventilated seats and HID headlights with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) that light a curve as the driver steers into it. The optional Intuitive Park Assist (IPA) system uses ultrasonic sensors to detect objects close to the car’s front and rear bumpers, alerting the driver and showing distance to objects in the multi-information display within the speedometer. With the Sport package the wheels can be upgraded to 18 inches, sport tires and the suspension is tuned for more aggressive driving.
306 horsepower Lexus V6
Inside, the interior is everything you’d expect from a luxury brand, although many feel it leans a little too far towards comfort. In terms of an everyday driver, most will appreciate the comfortable seating, but when really pushing it the car’s less than supportive seats will come off a bit lacking. Small quibblings. The only other complaint is that while seating is stated for five, the backseat in particular is on the small side. On the outside, Lexus has tweaked an already attractive style that carries on from past years. Revisions for 2009 include the grille, both bumpers, taillight clusters and integrated turn signals in the exterior mirrors. The IS 350 comes with a strikingly wide and athletic stance that could almost be described as muscular. It culminates in a ducktail-style trunk. Starting at just over $31,000 the IS sedan is a decent attempt by Lexus to take on the BMW 3 Series. For those looking for an extremely driver-friendly sport option, it may be just the right fit.