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Best Bets get above-average mpg, class-average or better reliability, class-average or better crash-test ratings, and our recommendation.
By Cars.com Staff
July 1, 2010
Vehicle Overview It took a long time, but in 2008 Lexus finally threw its noodle into the alphabet soup of automotive performance variants. The rear-drive IS-F is a performance variant of the IS 250 and IS 350, which are covered separately in the Cars.com Research section. The IS-F comes only as a sedan with a 416-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8. The other IS models come as a sedan and convertible with V-6 engines and an all-wheel drive option for the sedans. Lexus claims the IS-F sprints from zero to 60 mph in less than 4.9 seconds. It competes with the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
New for 2011 A brake override system that reduces engine power when both the brake and accelerator pedals are pressed is a new standard feature, as are LED daytime running lights. Most changes are in the cockpit, where the dashboard has a new gauge cluster, the steering wheel gets new silver trim, and new orange/black leather upholstery with contrast stitching replaces Terra Cotta. Swiveling adaptive headlights are no longer offered.
Exterior Cosmetic exterior and interior changes are always part of the high-performance package. Changes compared with the IS 250/IS 350 include:
Flared bumper with a larger mouth
Vents behind the front wheels
Small trunklid spoiler
19-inch alloy wheels with performance tires
Interior A USB/iPod connector is standard, and the IS-F comes with the Lexus Safety Connect telematics system that has similar functionality to GM's OnStar service. It comes with a year's worth of service free; after that you'll have to pay a subscription fee. IS-F interior changes compared with the IS 250/IS 350 include:
Body-hugging sport seats in black, white or a new two-tone option
F logos all around
Carbon fiber trim
Chrome shift paddles
Under the Hood The 416-hp V-8 cranks out 371 pounds-feet of torque; the redline is 7,000 rpm. The IS-F has one transmission — with enough gears for two. The eight-speed automatic has a manual mode and steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. There is no true manual available. Lexus says the transmission, which it calls Sport Direct Shift, changes gears within one-tenth of a second and executes rev matching for smoother downshifts and decreased wear. Not to be confused with some automated-manual transmissions, like Audi's S tronic, this one uses a fluidic torque converter.
416-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 with 371 pounds-feet of torque
Eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters
Upgraded brakes with larger, cross-drilled discs and six- and two-piston calipers in the front and rear, respectively
Brembo-brand calipers are gloss black and bear the Lexus logo
Upgraded springs, shocks, stabilizer bars, bushings and steering tuning are all optimized for performance driving
Car sits 1 inch lower than the IS 250/IS 350
Electronic stability system with special mode between fully engaged and fully disengaged, with Sport mode that allows more wheelspin and sliding before interrupting and keeping you on track
Safety Lexus' Safety Connect service, which automatically notifies authorities in the event of a crash, is standard. Other standard safety features include:
Side-impact torso-protection airbags
Side curtain airbags in both rows
Seat belt pretensioners for front seats and backseat
Electronic stability system
Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management, which Lexus says is meant to integrate all systems to anticipate skids and react faster than an electronic stability system alone
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