By KBB.com Editors
Fresh from a complete transformation in 2006, the sporty and affordable Lexus IS touts an aggressive look, a more responsive chassis and a choice between two potent six-cylinder engines. With its increased interior volume the rear-wheel-drive IS is now better situated to compete with the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G35 and Audi A4. While some purists will grumble about the availability of a manual transmission and all-wheel drive only on the less-powerful IS 250, the IS 350's 5.6-second zero to 60-mph time and advanced VDIM (Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management) stability system should go a long way toward pleasing most. The availability of such uncommon options as Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) place the IS a step above the competition.You'll Like This Car If...
If you consider your car as not just a transportation appliance but, instead, as a piece of sporting equipment, you'll feel right at home behind the wheel of the IS 250 or IS 350. An added benefityou won't see clones of your car on every street corner.You May Not Like This Car If...
You might be convinced that no Japanese car, no matter how competent, can match the driving enjoyment delivered by the BMW 3 Series. And if you seek a car with styling so distinct you can discern its brand without seeing its badging, the IS's handsome but derivative styling might not push your buttons.What's Significant About This Car?
A new X Package is offered on rear-wheel-drive models and includes a sport suspension, five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, sport pedals and illuminated door scuff plates.Driving It Driving Impressions
Test drives quickly revealed that both the IS 250 and the IS 350 offer significantly better-than-adequate acceleration. Of course, the IS 350 is the hot rod of the two, boasting a laudable zero to 60-mph sprint of 5.6 seconds. In around-town, freeway commute and open two-lane touring, the IS 250 feels completely in its element, but we have to admit the added 102 horsepower of its IS 350 sistership is appealing.
Steering is sharp and direct, although some might complain of a bit too much boost. With a double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear, plus either Vehicle Stability Control (IS 250) or the more sophisticated Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system (IS 350), the car has both traditional and New-Age technology to foster superior handling.
Paddle-Shift Automatic Transmission
The sequential-shift six-speed automatic, offered in the IS 250 and standard in the IS 250 all-wheel drive and IS 350, allows you to cruise in full automatic mode, or shift it yourself via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters or an up-down push on the console-mounted gear lever.
The Back-Up Camera system, which displays its view on the dash video screen, comes on automatically when you shift into reverse.