2010 Lexus IS 350 Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
December 28, 2009

The 2010 Lexus IS gives BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Infiniti a real challenge, though it's still a little less performance-oriented than the competition.

TheCarConnection.com's editors get behind the wheel whenever possible in order to give you their firsthand impressions in the Bottom Line. TheCarConnection.com also researched road tests from many sources on the new Lexus IS to produce a conclusive review and help you find the truth where other reviews might differ.

Last year saw both the Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 pick up improved handling, revised styling, and an upgraded interior, and this year those changes carry forward as Lexus finally joins the drop-top party with the addition of the all-new hardtop convertible variants, the IS 250C and IS 350C. The convertibles are covered in a separate review.

The 2010 Lexus IS's exterior styling is attractive but not eye-catching. The basic exterior shape of the IS is sleek and fairly attractive, echoing the style of Lexus's flagship, the LS. Despite wood or aluminum-look trim on the console, the 2010 Lexus IS's interior is more mid-range than high-end. The four well-bolstered seating positions are split by a console that divides the cockpit.

Review continues below

With leather upholstery and a high grade of standard features in even the entry-level models, the IS is a luxury sedan from the start, and the typical Lexus materials and build quality will meet most people's baseline standards for the price. The car's not especially opulent, however, even with the optional wood trim packages, and though the front seats are roomy and well-padded, the rear seats are cramped and short on headroom and legroom both.

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.

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. Despite a comfy ride, the 2010 IS's handling is balanced and taut, with excellent braking ability.

The 2010 Lexus IS earns little praise for its safety, though it's not a dismal performer either. It rates just four stars for front, passenger side, and rear passenger impact ratings with five-star scores for only driver side impact and rollover despite standard stability control, six airbags, and anti-lock brakes. The IIHS rates the 2010 a bit higher, giving top scores of "good" in both front and side-impact tests, though it doesn't earn a Top Safety Pick.

One upside to the safety of the 2010 IS is that it can help you avoid a crash in the first place, thanks to the optional Pre-Collision System, which anticipates when a crash is imminent and reacts accordingly, applying the brakes if the driver does not respond quickly enough. Other available high-tech features include a rear backup camera, a voice-activated navigation system, ventilated front seats, and a Mark Levinson audio system.

8

2010 Lexus IS 350

Styling

The 2010 Lexus IS wears a familiar and comfortable, if somewhat unexciting look.

The 2010 Lexus IS's exterior styling is best summed up as attractive but not eye-catching.

The Orlando Sentinel calls the 2010 IS a "BMW Series-3 fighter," while Car and Driver also praises its looks: "the styling Lexus gave the new IS line turns the car from sharp to stunning." Cars.com points out that the 2010 Lexus IS's styling also "bears a strong family resemblance to its larger, GS series of sport sedans." As always, however, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; Kelley Blue Book finds the Lexus a bit short of its German rivals, and The Los Angeles Times describes the 2010 Lexus IS design as "crowded and turbulent."

The 2010 Lexus IS's interior gets top marks from most reviewers. Car and Driver finds the interior "has a more luxurious look, and the leather and plastic seem even better than those in the original model." ConsumerGuide also raves about the interior: "decor is the Lexus-typical mix of rich-looking upholstery, soft-touch surfaces, and high-grade plastics." Edmunds reviewers deem the cabin to be "impeccably finished."

Review continues below
8

2010 Lexus IS 350

Performance

The 2010 Lexus IS earns strong marks for performance from road-testers around the Web and the luxury-car experts at TheCarConnection.com.

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.

Review continues below
8

2010 Lexus IS 350

Comfort & Quality

The comfort and quality offered by the 2010 Lexus IS are typical of Lexus cars in general, except in the backseat.

With leather upholstery and a high grade of standard features in even the entry-level models, the IS is a luxury sedan from the start, and the typical Lexus materials and build quality will meet most people's baseline standards for the price.

Despite the pleasing interior styling, the car's not especially opulent, even with the optional wood trim packages, and though the front seats are roomy and well-padded, the rear seats are cramped and short on headroom and legroom both. The Auto Channel points out the IS's sport seats provide "very good side support, to hold the driver and passenger in place if the driver gets too energetic." They note, though, "rear legroom is tight." Edmunds similarly advises "adults or even large children may not be happy in the rear seat on long road trips." The Orlando Sentinel agrees, saying the 2010 IS is "comfortable up front, a little cramped in the rear." Kelley Blue Book also backs up the consensus, noting, "Comfortable and supportive power front seats" but "modest head and leg room" for rear seat passengers relegates it to kids-only duty.

Edmunds calls the interior materials "impressive," with "handsome design [and] impeccable fit and finish." There are downsides to the cabin of the 2010 IS: "Coarse-surface tire thrum is noticeable but not intrusive. Wind noise is modest," comments ConsumerGuide.

With 13 cubic feet of cargo room available in the sedan, the IS isn't too short on space despite its mid-size sedan class. This is due largely to the shape of the rear trunk lid, which "aids aerodynamics and also increases trunk room," according to The Auto Channel.

Review continues below
8

2010 Lexus IS 350

Safety

The 2010 Lexus IS 250 gets good-but not great-marks for safety from reviewers consulted by TheCarConnection.com.

The 2010 Lexus IS earns little praise for its safety, though it's not a dismal performer either. It rates just four stars for front, passenger side, and rear passenger impact ratings with five-star scores for only driver side impact and rollover despite standard stability control, six airbags, and anti-lock brakes. The IIHS rates the 2010 IS 250 and IS 350 a bit higher, giving top scores of "good" in both front and side-impact tests, though it doesn't earn a Top Safety Pick.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the anti-lock brakes provide brake-force distribution and assist, and the 2010 Lexus offers side and side curtain airbags, as well as knee airbags. The reviewer adds, "very BMW-like, there's a first-aid kit." Edmunds reports that these and the "full complement" of airbags are standard equipment on the 2010 Lexus IS, in addition to traction and stability control.

One upside to the safety of the 2010 IS is that it can help you avoid a crash in the first place, thanks to the optional Pre-Collision System, which anticipates when a crash is imminent and reacts accordingly, applying the brakes if the driver does not respond quickly enough.

The Pre-Collision System is also packaged with the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control feature, which uses radar to detect obstacles out in front. If the onboard computer determines an unavoidable collision is imminent, the system stiffens the suspension, tightens the seatbelts, and pre-initializes the brake assist in preparation for impact. According to Cars.com, a backup camera is available as well.

Review continues below
10

2010 Lexus IS 350

Features

Every review read by TheCarConnection.com heaps praise on the 2010 Lexus IS for its many useful and high-tech features.

Few new tricks join the 2010 Lexus IS's built-in bag, but that's not all bad, as the existing list of features is already strong. New for 2010 is the ability to stream audio from stereo Bluetooth devices like phones and MP3 players, voice dial contacts via the hands-free system, plus a new traffic-aware navigation system that can route around obstacles. Despite the standard and available options, however, it still lags a bit behind the feature sheets of the competition.

The Orlando Sentinel is especially complimentary regarding Lexus IS features: "Instruments and controls are thoughtfully designed, and the navigation system is very easy to use, one of the best offered." Edmunds's opinion is in line with that of the Orlando Sentinel, calling the Lexus IS's electronic interfaces "one of the best...in the luxury game, with easy to use controls all around." The navigation system of the 2010 Lexus, which can be a bugbear on many vehicles, is "particularly friendly," declares Edmunds. According to Cars.com, features include "a standard Smart Access keyless entry system with a push-button engine starter."

Audiophiles will enjoy the Mark Levinson sound system, though CNet notes, "At only 270 watts, the amplifier is a little weak."

Adding to the basics this year, the IS is now available with Lexus's Safety Connect service, enabling telematic emergency support through the car's navigation and communications system. The Enform system, also available as a subscription service, offers live help on the fly, including turn-by-turn directions and other assistance.

Optional upgrades for the IS range include a retractable moonroof, ventilated front seats, dynamic radar cruise control, adaptive front lighting, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and a backup camera.

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
USED PRICE RANGE
$14,599 - $18,599
Browse Used Listings
in your area
8.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 10
Fuel Economy N/A
Compare the 2010 Lexus IS 350 against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Lexus IS 350?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used