We were pretty giddy when we heard we were going to spend a week with Lexus’ new IS 350. The new IS is more than just an exercise in ‘look at me’ styling. It’s actually capable– more so than many new luxury vehicles on the market. The 3 Series has become too popular to be unique, the C-Class has been out shined by the CLA, and everything else just seems irrelevant.
The new IS is good, really good. And if you don’t believe us, even the fellas at Esquire named it their car of the year for 2013. But here’s some merit to just why the IS got us all riled up (in a good way):
It’s Surprisingly Fun
If you haven’t already heard the news, Lexus isn’t boring anymore. Or at least, that’s the impression they’ve been shoving down our throats with ‘Sport’ this and ‘F’ that. The promotion of it is all a little much, to be completely honest. But in this particular case, they can back it up.
The new 3.5-liter V6 puts down 306 horsepower at the rear wheels. A very driftable luxury sedan — although don’t tell Lexus that. Sport mode is actually sporty, Eco mode is somewhat more eco, and in Normal driving mode you still get a sense of get up and go. 8.5 out of 10 in the performance department for the luxury sedan.
It Has Eight Speeds
A lot of people gripe over 8- and 9-speed transmissions. But you want performance, right? You want efficiency, right? And you don’t want to be plagued with a hybrid badge either? 8-speeds, problem solved.
Now if only they could find a way to let me shift gears myself. Hmmmm…
It’s Insanely Comfortable
If you like comfortable things, the Lexus IS is one of those things. The soft leather seats hug you, but not too much. They support you, but are not overly supportive. You really fall in love with just how darn soft and supple those seats are, especially on long drives.
Other amenities include heated and cooled seats (front and rear), electrically adjustable seats, voice control, a blind spot monitoring system, and room for five normal sized adults, just to name a few. Comfort, security, and fun, all in one four-door package.
It’s Handsome (To Some)
There’s a lot of debate as to whether the new IS is a good looking car. The answer to that debate is yes and no. On one hand, it’s a very exciting car to look at, it grabs your attention and keeps you curiously examining every angle. But in the other sense, the spindle grille is mostly ridiculous, the backside looks like a melted candy bar, and inside, the dashboard juts out at you and gives you all sorts of strange angles to overcome. I especially hated the dashboard. (ed. note: the “character line” that runs form the running boards, up the bottom of the rear door and continues again into the taillight, makes the rear wheels look incredibly small)
But I can say this: the IS 350 we received was NOT an F Sport edition. Having seen the F Sport editions, I can say without a doubt that that is a fine looking piece of machinery. But sans F Sport package, it’s angular and weird, but not completely terrible.
So here’s our final thought on the new Lexus IS 350: it’s fun, it’s comfortable, it has a lot of speeds, and it’s interesting to look at. That’s why it’s one of our favorite cars to buy right now. This ain’t your momma’s Lexus anymore.