The IS 350 sedan and IS 350C convertible are stronger versions of Lexus' IS 250 and IS 250C by virtue of their 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. The IS 350 and IS 350C are sporty rivals to the BMW 3 Series. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional on the sedan. Competitors include the BMW 335i, Infiniti G35 and Mercedes-Benz C350; the entry-level IS 250 plays against some of those cars' less powerful siblings.
Lexus also offers the IS-F, powered by a 5.0-liter V-8. The IS 250 and IS-F are covered separately in the Cars.com Research section.
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New for 2011
A brake override system that reduces engine power if the brake and accelerator are pressed at the same is a new standard feature. The IS 350 sedan is now available with all-wheel drive as an option to the standard rear-wheel drive. The convertible remains rear-drive only. The optional pre-collision system and swiveling adaptive headlights are discontinued.
Lexus says the latest IS bears a strong resemblance to its larger GS sedans. A long wheelbase and wide stance help give the IS 350 a muscular appearance. The IS 350 ranks as a compact car. An optional Sport Package includes a sport suspension and 18-inch wheels with grippier summer tires.
The sedan gets a new grille and front bumper and standard high-intensity-discharge headlights, headlight washers and LED daytime running lights. A new optional F Sport Package for the sedan includes a sport suspension, 18-inch wheels and front and rear spoilers, plus available Ultrasonic Blue paint. Exterior features include:
- Standard 17-inch alloy wheels
- Optional 18-inch alloy wheels
- Optional rain-sensing wipers
- Optional backup camera with front and rear parking sensors
Up to five occupants fit inside the IS 350, though the backseat is tight. Bright electroluminescent instruments light up the dashboard. Black and silver metallic trim is standard, and wood trim is available. The optional navigation system's voice-recognition software picks up casual-language commands, and the standard audio system has a USB port to better integrate iPods or other MP3 players. Lexus' Enform service, included with the navigation system, can assist in finding street addresses, restaurants and more. It comes with a year's service free; after that, you have to pay a monthly subscription fee. Interior features include:
- 10-way power front seats
- Dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents
- Power moonroof
- Manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel (powered version optional)
- 13-speaker stereo with USB input for portable music players
- Optional ventilated front seats
- Optional dynamic radar cruise control
- Optional navigation system
Under the Hood
The IS 350 sedan is now available with rear- or all-wheel drive, like its IS 250 sibling. The convertible remains rear-drive only. There are no engine or transmission options. Mechanical features include:
- 306-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 with 277 pounds-feet of torque
- Six-speed automatic transmission
- Larger brakes than IS 250
Lexus' Safety Connect service, which automatically notifies authorities in the event of a crash, is standard. Like Enform, a year's service is included, but after that you'll have to pay a subscription fee. Standard safety features include:
- Antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system
- Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management, which is meant to integrate all systems to anticipate skids and react faster than an electronic stability system alone
- Knee airbags for both front occupants
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags for both rows
The IS 350C has a retractable hardtop that Lexus says can operate in just 21 seconds. The four-seat interior features anti-glare gauges, plus audio and climate systems that automatically adjust their settings to compensate for top-down noise and temperatures. Other safety and luxury features remain similar to those on IS 350 sedans. Changes for 2011 include:
- Interior trim changed to a black metallic finish, except for silver finish trim added to steering wheel and above glove box
- LED daytime running lights added to HID headlamps
- Headlights that swivel in the direction of a turn discontinued
- Brake override system added
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