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2011 Lexus IS

Overview
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2011 Lexus IS Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.8

In the hotly contested compact premium sedan market, cars such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 are commonly mentioned as the class leaders by both buyers and journalists. However, both groups forget a very strong contender: The 2011 Lexus IS. The 2011 Lexus IS 250 and 2011 Lexus IS 350 offer rear- and all-wheel-drive models, a choice of two state-of-the-art six-cylinder powerplants and youthful styling. While driving enthusiasts may argue that the Germans reign supreme, the IS twins are no slugs. Also, they have a reputation for longevity and low maintenance costs few others in this field can equal. If you can work around its small rear seat and lack of a manual transmission on the 350 models, the IS can be a thoroughly satisfying premium performance sedan.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're stuck on Lexus' quality, sales experience and resale value, but you find some of their offerings a bit tame, test drive a 2011 Lexus IS 250 or 2011 Lexus IS 350. The sharp styling, impressive handling and potent engine choices may change your mind.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're a driving purist who can't live without a manual transmission or thickly bolstered sport seats, the BWM 3 Series or Audi A4/S4 might be a better fit. The IS' cramped rear seat might also be a deal killer, especially if your passengers vertically surpass the six foot mark.

What's Significant About This Car?

Lexus adds optional all-wheel drive to the 2011 Lexus IS 350. Rear-wheel drive versions of the 2011 Lexus IS 250 and 2011 Lexus IS 350 get a new F-Sport Package. In addition, all 2011 Lexus IS models receive a slight front and rear makeover and some minor interior upgrades.

Driving the IS

Driving Impressions At the heart of the 2011 Lexus IS is a sport suspension that does an admirable job minimizing body roll and lean without also delivering a jarring ride. The IS'...

steering is positive and linear, and the brakes and electronic stability control system work effortlessly to keep the car in check. While the 2011 Lexus IS 350 is the prime mover of this family, even the 2011 Lexus IS 250 feels fairly quick around town. Both models easily cope with the cut-and-thrust of daily commuting as well as freeway passing moves. For the ultimate performance driving experience, opt for the F Sport Package (rear-drive cars only).

Paddle-Shift Automatic Transmission
Optional in a base Lexus IS 250 but standard on the Lexus IS 250 AWD and Lexus IS 350, this slick sequential six-speed allows you to use the fully-automatic mode or shift for yourself.

Optional F Sport Package
While the well-tuned standard suspension will likely please most buyers, the F Sport Package is firmer and includes an 18-inch wheel and tire upgrade that elevates any rear-drive IS model – but especially the 2011 Lexus IS 350 – to near-BMW 3 Series levels of agility and fun without detracting from the basic ride comfort.

2011 Lexus IS Details
Interior

Simple, clean and tasteful, the interior of the 2011 Lexus IS is the epitome of Lexus' restrained approach to cabin comfort. Soft touch surfaces abound, and leather seating is standard on all models. The 2011 Lexus IS' instrument cluster contains Lexus' Optitron electroluminescent gauges, which glow brightly even in full sunlight. The same cannot be said, however, for some of the secondary readouts and the navigation screen display. Tall drivers will appreciate the front seat's long travel and the tilt and telescoping steering wheel, but rear seat passenger may find both head and legroom at a premium.

Exterior

The 2011 Lexus IS' slight wedge profile has a muscular appearance that is accentuated by blackout B-pillars that blend glass and metal into a single visual element. Prominent shoulder ridges run atop the IS' fenders and highlight a subtle power bulge on the car's hood. The treatment is finished off with a set of well-defined fender flares and lower side sills. The look is completed by 17- and 18-inch wheels surrounded by performance V-rated tires.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Even the baseline 2011 Lexus IS 250 with 204 horsepower and six-speed manual transmission (or optional six-speed paddle-shifted automatic) has a comprehensive array of standard equipment that includes numerous power assists – including 10-way power driver's and passenger's seats – plus dual-zone automatic climate control, power moonroof, SmartAccess remote keyless entry and start and a 194-watt 13-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer. The 2011 IS 250 AWD adds a sophisticated all-wheel drive system, heated front seats and an automatic transmission as standard equipment, while the 306-horsepower 2011 Lexus IS 350 is available with the automatic only. The IS 350 features HID headlamps, larger wheels and bigger brakes.

Optional Equipment

Key upgrades to the 2011 Lexus IS include the Luxury Plus Package that adds perforated leather heated and ventilated seats, wood trim, rain-sensing wipers, power tilt and telescopic steering column, and auto dimming outside mirrors. The new F Sport Package adds a sport-tuned suspension and steering upgrades, 18-inch wheels and a dark chrome grille. Other options of note include voice-activated DVD Navigation and the Mark Levinson 14-speaker 300-watt Premium Surround Sound Audio System. The navigation system is also available as a stand-alone option, as are the bi-xenon headlights and Intuitive park assist. Brake, exhaust and suspension upgrade kits are available for F Sport Package-equipped models.

Under the Hood

Two technology-intensive, all-aluminum V6 engines provide clean and comparatively fuel-efficient motivation for the IS line. The 2.5-liter version uses dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) and direct fuel injection to develop 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. That's sufficient to take a rear-drive IS 250 from zero to 60 miles per hour in a bit under eight seconds with either transmission, and to send the IS 250 AWD to that speed in about 8.5 seconds. The 3.5-liter V6 in the IS 350 adds secondary port injection and cranks out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Backed with the mandatory paddle-shifted multi-mode (Normal/Sport/Snow) automatic, it propels the fleetest member of the IS family to the 60-mph benchmark in about 5.5 seconds.

2.5-liter V6
204 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
185 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 21/30 (automatic), 20/27 (AWD automatic)

3.5-liter V6
306 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
277 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (RWD), 18/25 (AWD)

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2011 Lexus IS Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 399 Ratings for the 2006 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.1/10
    Quality
    9.4/10
  • Reliability
    9.5/10
    Performance
    9.2/10
  • Comfort
    9.1/10
    Styling
    9.4/10

Amazing car - if you have good roads

By on Friday, May 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 56,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Refined luxury with power in spades"

Cons: "Harsh ride on poor roads."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Absolutely fantastic car - it just wants to go. Daily driver for me, but most fun is on road trips. Only issue I have (not the car) is that if you relocate to somewhere like the snow belt that has poor roads - it takes a lot of the fun out of it. Definitely feel each expansion joint. Again, on good roads, that feel is great. Quality interior, holds up very well. Ergonomics are very good - although I'm not a big fan of the Toyota/lexus nav system (at least in 2008). Our Acura nav is more intuitive. Front buckets wrap around very nicely, extremely comfortable. Back seat isn't spacious, but much better than others (ie Mustangs, GS-35/37). 8 speed xmission allows for some surprising gas mileage - I get 24/25 out on the highway and high teens around town."

3 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Great Automobile

By on Friday, April 03, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I love this car. I have had it for 6 months and enjoy it everyday. It has been very reliable, and the top works perfectly. The car has excellent driving matters and changes from cruiser to a car that is very fun to drive simply with additional pressure applied to the gas pedal. The only issue I have had so far is an occasional squeak of the brakes, which has been described as the most common compliant about this automobile."

9 people out of 19 found this review helpful

The REAL Ultimate Driving Machine!

By on Monday, March 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,325

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Power, handling, luxury"

Cons: "several minor recalls"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought the car new, as a gift for my wife, and got all the options. I felt that it was a good combination of power and luxury. At the same time, my brother bought a BMW 335i, so I have been able to do a lot of continual comparing as our cars age. I bought the Lexus because of comfort, power, and handling (pretty much in that order). Lexus did an outstanding job in this car in that they are all equal. The interior details are better than any other vehicle I've driven then and now. It has super-soft tight leather, bright clear instrument cluster, and a very quiet ride. The car is very quick with about as much useable power as can be used on-highway. The traction control is super smooth at all speeds and most average drivers would never know it was actually engaging. The handling is amazing for a sedan (as I recall, it beat the BMW 330 in the slalom by 1 mph, 66/65). The navigation still works nicely, but is not as intuitive as modern systems, of course. In comparison of the 2007 Lexus IS350 to the 2007 BMW 335i, the Lexus is a far superior car. It is equally powered, handles the same, but is way more comfortable (quiet, amazing sound system, supple leather, bright instrument cluster, etc.). Additionally, reliability has been much better for the Lexus. Tire life is about 25K per set, vs 15K for his 335 (he has had terrible problems with inner rear tire wear). Final (disappointing) thought... The newer Lexus IS's do not have nearly the quality of leather as our 2007. I have driven the new Lexus', BMW's, and Audi S4 (my top contenders for power, handling, luxury), but none of them impress me more than my 2007 IS350. I guess I'll be keeping it until someone steps up and makes a better car."

12 people out of 18 found this review helpful

My Baby

By on Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 122,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Driveability, Gas mileage"

Cons: "Quirky, Expensive upkeep"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"If this car were more dependable or less expensive to repair, it would be a perfect 10. Handles like a dream. Steering, stopping and maneuvering, as well as, pick up are what you dream a car could be. The recalls and quirks were a pain to deal with but although expensive, fairly convenient since the dealership provides a loaner. Moved from So. Cal. to Pacific NW and now need an AWD vehicle. I will miss this car but need something larger now."

6 people out of 15 found this review helpful

the best for value and reliability

By on Monday, February 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I own a 2010 is 250 and i can say that owning it and driving it always puts a smile on my face.the interior is flawless with all the creature comfort that you can imagine plus an addition of some f-sport upgrades like exhaust system, air intake and f sport springs all around.all in all i rate the car as 10 for everyday driving with luxuries."

10 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Better than a Mercedes

By on Monday, December 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Design, reliability, overall quality"

Cons: "Parts for maintenance can be expensive."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"My Lexus has never shown a flaw. I've driven Mercedes, BMWs, and Alfa Romeoes. None come close to the Lexus. I would not consider selling or trading my car for less than $18,000. It's worth at least $18,000. May drive the car another 10 years."

21 people out of 42 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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