The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2015/2016 Lexus IS 350 Review - Add F For More Fun +VIDEO


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 Lexus IS 350

2015/2016 Lexus IS 350 - With F-sport for more Fun

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel


The Lexus model range of 4-door sedans starts with the IS 250 priced beginning in the $36,000 range and then going upwards touching into the $40s. From there you can go in to a six-figure price with a top-of-the-line Lexus LS model.

For 2015, the Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 204HP, 2.5-L V6 engine. Also, there’s a Lexus IS 350 model powered by a 306HP 3.5-L V6 engine and the subject of this drive report.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

For 2016, the Lexus IS now has a three-model strategy with IS 200t, IS 300 AWD, and IS 350. The former IS 250 and IS 250 AWD are discontinued. The new IS 200t, available as RWD only, features a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with intercooler paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine is rated at 241HP and has a very flat torque curve, developing 258 lb.-ft. torque at 1,650-4,400 rpm.

Lexus offers the IS 300 AWD with 255 HP and 236 lb.-ft. torque at 2,000-4,800 rpm.  The IS 300 AWD features a modified 3.5-liter V6 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. As in 2015, Lexus will continue to offer the IS 350, in both RWD and AWD models.

The electronically controlled all-wheel drive system standard on IS 300 AWD and available on IS 350 models is designed to help enhance traction and grip under all driving conditions by automatically varying front-to-rear torque balance from 30:70 to as much as 50:50.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The IS 350, both in 2015 and 2016 guise, delivers lots of performance from a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 306 hp and 277 lb.-ft. of peak torque. It is mated to an eight-speed, Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission that integrates an advanced G-force Artificial Intelligence system to choose gears intuitively. Steering wheel mounted paddle shifters let you shift yourself just like a Formula One racer. Zero to 60mph time is just a shade under 6 seconds, from what most performance-testers report.

Available for all IS sedan models, the F SPORT package adds unique 18-inch wheels and special suspension tuning, along with unique interior and exterior trim. The F SPORT IS 300 AWD and IS 350 also features an intake sound that creates a more sporting engine note.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

My drive opportunity had me in a 2015 IS 350 F-sport. Base price on this set of wheels is $40,065. When all the options got added in it totaled $48,830. The F-sport package runs you $3740 and the Navi system with Mark Levinson premium audio is another $2995. Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert costs $600. Variable gear ratio steering is $400.

F-Sport adds some distinction and ups the sportiness of the IS 350. Spirited driving is my style with a good sense of connection to the road and the F-sport certainly adds to that overall feeling and enjoyment. It’s pretty satisfying and makes long road trips and off-highway two-lane jaunts a bit more entertaining. The 18-inch low profile tires, 225/40s up front and 255/35s in rear bring out every road imperfection but conversely perform well when pushed hard.




All-wheel-drive is offered on the IS 350. Even living in Chicago, I might forgo that and instead fit a good set of winter tires with a taller profile to get me through the modest snowfalls. If I really big snow hits, I’ll stay home or take a taxi if I do need to go out.

EPA test fuel economy ratings for the IS 350 are 22 mpg combined city/highway, with 19 city mpg and 28 highway mpg. I did take the IS 350 on a long road trip over to Western Michigan from Chicago. It’s interstate all the way and in my spirited driving style and got in the range of 26-27 mpg overall.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

On the inside the Lexus IS 350 has a very attractive interior. Ingress and egress are quite easy and the seats proved comfortable and supportive on my road trip. I prefer the more-bolstered seats of the F-Sport, but they may not be for every body shape. There’s lots of padding and soft touch material to be enjoyed. I have a mixed opinion on the mouse-controlled navigation system and audio controls. It takes a bit of concentration and pulls your eyes off the road too much sometimes. Perhaps over time and more experience it is less so.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Other changes for 2016 are a new optional Premium Plus Package that includes a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and rain-sensing wipers.  A heated steering wheel is also now available as a standalone option. The IS 350 adds standard 18-inch five-spoke wheels with all-season tires.

It you want further details and specs on the Lexus IS you can find that with a mouse-click at www.lexus.com. To compare the IS sedan with other sport sedans you can do that right here on www.theautochannel.com.

The German rivals to the Lexus IS might be a bit more sporty and could be more to an individual’s taste. Although they too have their pluses and minuses. The IS 350 makes for a comfortable daily ride while also provides the level of sportiness and performance to make a back-road trip fun and engaging.

© 2015 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

The Most In-Depth Lexus Consumer Vehicle Shopper's Research - Anywhere!