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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 To compare the IS sedan with other sport sedans you can do that right here on

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

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