2012 Lexus IS 350 Performance

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Performance

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 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.

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.

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