The Lexus IS five-passenger sports sedans blend both luxury and athleticism. Carefully assembled with the attention to detail that’s made Lexus a benchmark for the rest of the industry, the IS is intended to appeal to driving enthusiasts. Offering a different flavor of luxury and performance, the IS also carries the Lexus reputation for exceptional quality, reliability and the best dealership experience of any brand.
The 2011 IS (MSRP starting at $32,645) comes in three IS 250 configurations (Rear-Wheel Drive Manual, RWD Automatic and All-Wheel Drive) and two IS 350 versions (RWD and AWD). They all have elegant styling highlighted by a muscular shoulder line. The sheet metal is stretched tightly over a 107.4-inch wheelbase with its wheels pushed out to the corners. All IS models are striking to look at and aerodynamic with a 0.28 coefficient of drag. That exceptionally low number means the IS cheats the wind for a boost in both performance and efficiency. A two-door IS convertible with a retractable hardtop round out the line.
Compact and without an ounce of visual fat, the standard IS can be upgraded with an F Sport™ Package that ups the aggressiveness of the slick bodywork.
Included in the package is a unique grille set in a more pronounced front fascia that features a front lip spoiler. A spoiler is also added to the rear decklid, and F Sport models wear dark graphite 18-inch alloy wheels. Those wheels are bolted to an F Sport suspension that packs a performance boost to back up the swaggering looks. Tuned by the same team responsible for the Lexus LFA supercar, the F Sport Package is as dynamic as the exclusively available Ultrasonic Blue paint might suggest.
There’s a lot to choose from when it comes time to outfit the IS interior. Three interior colors each feature a corresponding wood or metallic trim accent to complement the standard leather upholstery. Here, too, F Sport buyers get something special with silver metallic accents and seats done in leather. Heated and ventilated
seats are available, and the IS interior is one of the most comfortable “driver’s offices” you can find.
A pushbutton start is part of the Smart Access system that makes fumbling with keys passé. Many vehicles now have a dual-zone automatic climate control system like the IS, but Lexus doesn’t just stop with two temperature zones. A filter is fitted to all systems to keep the air in the IS cabin clean, and IS 350 models feature an automatic recirculation mode that takes its cues from a smog sensor. Automatic and power-operated features are abundant in the IS. From the available power tilt and telescoping steering column to the power-operated sunshade as part of the Luxury Package to the standard Lexus Personalized Settings System that puts you in charge of several electronic settings and functions, you can tailor the IS to your likes.
A 2.5-liter 204-hp V6 powers IS 250s with smooth serenity. Enthusiasts are well served by an available six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic handles shifts for buyers who don’t want to shift for themselves. The automatic transmission will still play along if you want to get some performance driving in, thanks to shift paddles on the steering wheel that follow the motorsports convention of left for downshift, right for higher gears. IS 350s step up to a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers a silken 306 hp and 277 lb/ft of torque. Direct injection is featured on both V6s for lots of power and low emissions.
All-wheel drive has long been available for IS 250 buyers, and it’s newly available on the 2011 IS 350. The larger engine teams with the all-wheel drive system to seamlessly boost performance and deliver secure handling in all types of conditions. Four-wheel disk brakes stop the IS with authority, using floating two-piston front calipers on IS 250s. IS 350s step it up with alloy monoblock front calipers featuring four pistons, and larger diameter brake rotors. Braking feel is solid, and stops are quick and sure.
Lexus still goes the extra mile for its buyers, adding high-tech touches to enhance the experience through the smallest details. All vehicles use gauge panels to convey information to drivers, for example, but Lexus has famously used clear and easily legible electroluminescent instruments, and that trademark feature keeps the IS driver informed. Standard Bluetooth® audio and hands-free phone integration keep hands on the wheel and music flowing through the standard 13-speaker audio system that features an Automatic Sound Levelizer and six-disc CD changer. A 90-day trial subscription to XM Satellite Radio is included with the purchase of a Lexus IS, and there are also inputs for USB and portable devices.
A Navigation System and Mark Levinson® Premium Audio System Package adds a hard-drive based navigation system with voice command and large color LCD display, and a 14-speaker audiophile-grade surround-sound audio system. Lexus Enform with Safety Connect enhances navigation with eDestination and Destination Assist, features that allow you to send routes to your vehicle’s navigation system from the web, and offers live help to guide you to your destination. A Lexus Enform Mobile App is even more convenient, offering route planning and even Facebook integration without the need for a computer. Safety Connect offers enhanced roadside assistance, and an emergency assistance button in the cabin puts you in touch with live help when you need it. If your IS is stolen, Safety Connect can help locate it, and, in the event of a collision, the system automatically notifies authorities.
This just scratches the surface of what the Lexus IS has to offer, and hardcore performance enthusiasts will find many of the same charms with much sharper talons waiting in the IS F performance model. Sunseekers can get their fixes with the IS C, which features a retractable hardtop. Both IS F and IS C are built upon the same set of exceptional components.
The Lexus IS is vehicular perfect pitch; it hits every note just right.