And we don't see much reason—other than price, perhaps—to get the IS 250 over the IS 350. While the IS 350's 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 gives this sport sedan truly strong acceleration and quick responses to go with its capable rear-wheel-drive platform, the IS 250 is another story altogether; its 204-hp, 2.5-liter V-6 is agreeable with the manual transmission but a little sluggish with the six-speed automatic. And the clincher is that in real-world driving, you won't see much of a gas mileage difference between the two models.
The IS models are sized about the same as the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is to say they're remarkably small and compact, and considerably less roomy than the larger, front-wheel-drive Lexus ES 350. The design is quite simple, but interior appointments are top-notch; many of the tech and luxury features of Lexus's larger sedans are offered here, too, including voice-activated navigation, ventilated front seats, and excellent Mark Levinson audio.
Browse the pages of our full review covering the 2011 Lexus IS 350 for up-close information about the entire IS line, including the high-performance IS F.