The redesigned 2006 IS series of performance sedans debuted at the 2005 New York Auto Show. The first-generation IS 300 was offered as a sedan or sport wagon, but the 2006 edition is available only as a sedan.
The restyled IS 350 has a 3.5-liter V-6 that whips up more than 300 horsepower. The automaker says that's sufficient to yield a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of less than 6 seconds. Lexus also offers an IS 250, which is powered by a 2.5-liter V-6 and is covered separately in the cars.com Research section.
Like so many redesigned models these days, the IS 350 is larger than the prior IS 300 in every dimension. A new six-speed-automatic transmission is standard. The automatic's steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters give the driver extra involvement when desired.
Suspension, steering and braking systems are new for the 2006 IS 350, which also gets some underbody refinements. A Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management stability system is standard. Two front knee airbags and a twin-chamber front-passenger airbag are installed. A standard Smart Access keyless entry system features a push-button engine starter.
Sales begin in fall 2005. European customers can choose a diesel-powered IS 220, but Lexus doesn't extend diesel availability to the U.S. market.
Lexus' recent LF-series concept cars influenced the IS 350's styling. The automaker says the latest IS bears a strong resemblance to its larger, redesigned 2006 GS series of sport sedans. A long wheelbase and wide stance help give the IS 350 a muscular appearance.
Standard wheels hold 17-inch tires, but 18-inch tires are optional. Built on a 107.5-inch wheelbase, the IS 350 measures 180.1 inches long overall and 56.1 inches tall. Despite its increased dimensions, the IS 350 still ranks as a compact car. Adaptive headlights are available.
Five occupants can fit inside the IS 350. Bright Optitron instruments light up the dashboard. Metallic trim is standard, and maple trim is available. A 13-speaker sound system includes Apple iPod and MP3 compatibility.
Options include ventilated front seats, dynamic radar cruise control, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a navigation system that incorporates a backup camera that can help when parking.
Under the Hood
The IS 350's 3.5-liter V-6 cranks out more than 300 hp and 275+ pounds-feet of torque. A new six-speed-automatic transmission is standard.
Antilock brakes, a tire-pressure monitor, knee airbags for both front occupants and a new twin-chamber front-passenger airbag are standard. The VDIM stability system is designed to let drivers push the car toward its handling limits, but it discreetly applies braking, throttle and steering control as needed to avoid loss of control.
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