The 2010 Lexus IS 250s is available with 2.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 204 horsepower in rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations, while the rear-drive-only Lexus IS 350 gets a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 powerplant. For all IS 350s and the all-wheel-drive IS 250s, power is sent to the wheels through a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic. The rear-drive Lexus IS 250 is the driver's car, offering a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or the six-speed auto.
Kelley Blue Book says the 2010 Lexus IS 250 feels fairly "quick around town" and, although it's rated at just 204 horsepower, "easily copes with the cut-and-thrust of daily commuting as well as freeway passing moves." The Orlando Sentinel disagrees, finding the smaller V-6 is "taxed a bit," under daily duty. Despite the "silky automatic transmission," the 2.5-liter unit is "sleepy on takeoff, strained up steep grades, and...shy on midrange passing power," cautions ConsumerGuide. Maintaining that comfort level in the IS C means "the ride is a little mushier so the body will flex less," according to Car and Driver.
Between the two engines, TheCarConnection.com's editors prefer the note of the bigger V-6, not to mention the extra power-especially since there's not much of a fuel economy penalty. Paired with the manual transmission, the 2.5-liter engine gets 18/26 mpg according to the EPA, while the bigger V-6 scores 18/25 mpg driving the automatic transmission. The larger, 3.5-liter engine is "strong in all situations," says ConsumerGuide.
Despite a comfy ride, the 2010 IS's handling is balanced and taut, with excellent braking ability. Car and Driver says the electric power steering is easy around town, but makes the 2010 Lexus IS a "less enthusiastic apex duster than an Infiniti or BMW." According to ConsumerGuide, the Lexus IS 250's handling "trails the benchmark BMW 3-Series" but "corners with little body lean, secure grip, and an agile feel." However, they also report the optional sport suspension and 18-inch tires "furnish little cornering advantage, nor does AWD on dry roads." Edmunds describes the 2010 Lexus's handling as "capable." Braking is "swift" and free of "drama," but ConsumerGuide warns, "pedal action was slightly grabby in some test cars." ForbesAutos remarks that it "strikes a balance between ride comfort and cornering abilities that will appeal to more casual motorists."
All 2010 IS models feature Lexus's Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, which brings together the car's dynamic-control systems to improve handling and traction.