Performance » 7
Shopping for a new Lexus IS 350? MSRP: $40,320 - $42,780
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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 has been pushing its vehicles in two different luxury directions--some toward comfort and plushness, others toward performance. And the IS lineup is part of the latter--although in IS 250 form it would be a stretch to call it a sport sedan.
In fact, we recommend skipping the base 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 entirely, as while it's smooth, it just doesn't have enough power (especially with the automatic transmission). With their 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, IS 350 models are much more enjoyable, but here the six-speed automatic is mandatory.
The IS models feel quite agile, but they're not quite on the same dynamic ground as the BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G37. We've noted that rear-wheel-drive models do have better, more communicative steering than the other models, and steering-wheel paddle-shifters help make the most of it.
The F-Sport Package that's available on rear-wheel-drive models includes plenty of appearance upgrades, but with a sport suspension, special steering tuning, and larger 18-inch wheels, it does sharpen the driving feel somewhat.
The 2013 Lexus IS 350 especially is a strong performer, although the IS 250 isn't as athletic as other base sport sedans.