While the big road trip for our long term 2015 Lexus IS 350 is set for July, in the meantime we decided that it would be a good companion on a quick weekend trip to the San Francisco Bay area. But even before we started out, the glitch that affected the infotainment systems of 2014-2016 Lexus models, a software update that in effect had a bug that disabled the navigation, entertainment, connectivity and climate control systems, had hit our test car.

Lexus recommended that the vehicles be taken to the dealership, but we also learned that by disconnecting the battery terminal for about 10 minutes would allow the car to reset itself when reconnected. That quick hack did the trick and the system rebooted with all the features functioning as they should. That tech came in handy as we were able to use the map and traffic feature to wend our way around the L.A. Basin without too much difficulty and the cursor/click control in the center console made inputting destinations in the nav system easy.

Bigger screen please

We’ve been spoiled by the large screens in other cars and even though the IS is a relatively new model, it could benefit from a bigger surface area and higher definition graphics. Still, the setup is fairly intuitive to use and one of the neat features of the graphic layout in the instrument cluster is how the center bezel surrounding the tach/speedo slides over to one side to provide a larger display area for fuel economy info and other vehicle system status pages that are easily scrolled through using the steering wheel mounted controls.

Speaking of fuel economy, even though the Lexus IS 350 has a powerful 308-horsepower V6 engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the fuel economy was impressive given the passing power of the vehicle. During our last leg on the return drive home from the Bay Area, we travelled 463 miles on 15.15 gallons of fuel for just over 30 mpg, a good 2 mpg over the EPA highway average. We nearly ran the tank dry—imagine how far this car could go if it had an 18 gallon tank.

The Lexus IS 350 is a comfortable sedan for the long haul like LA to San Francisco and once you get there, its relative compact size, makes it easy to park and wheel around congested urban settings. And yet there’s plenty of room for back seat passengers and a decent size trunk for all your stuff. It’s cars like these that provide a pretty strong argument that a well-designed sedan is a great option in a market that is seemingly obsessed with SUVs.

See Past Reports for our Long-Term 2015 Lexus IS…


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