Performance » 7
Shopping for a new Lexus IS 350?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
uncommunicative steering and slow-witted automatic transmission
Shift throws are generally positive, but lack the precision of offerings from BMW -- or even Mazda for that matter.
superbly refined, supremely confident…and subtly uninspiring
Edmunds' Inside Line
It feels perfectly balanced, especially on twisty, downhill roads where multiple weight transfers -- some of them abrupt -- could cause a lesser automobile to lose its composure.
the IS 350 produces satisfying acceleration and a pleasing exhaust note to go with it
Lexus positions its cars along two tracks--one plush and detached, the other more visceral and sporty--and the 2012 IS sedans fit into the latter.
If you want to make the most of that performance feel, just don't go with the base 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6; it's smooth but remarkably short on power, especially with the automatic transmission. IS 350 models come with a much more enjoyable 306-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 but unfortunately only come with the (paddle-shifted) six-speed automatic.
The IS 350 models' powertrain is agreeable and responsive, and overall the IS feels quite agile but never quite on the same high dynamic ground as the BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G37. Rear-wheel drive IS models have a better steering feel than AWD versions, although across the model line it's one of the least communicative steering setups.
An F-Sport Package adds a host of appearance upgrades, including sport suspension, special steering tuning, and larger 18-inch wheels, to rear-wheel drive models with the automatic transmission.
The 2012 Lexus IS sedans aren't quite as much fun to drive as the top sport sedans in the class, but the IS 350 especially is a strong performer.