2017 Lexus IS 350

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$41,370–$43,535 MSRP range
(4.3) 3 reviews
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Key Specs

of the 2017 Lexus IS 350. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Smooth-revving powertrains
  • Composure over hilly roads
  • Precise steering
  • Large multimedia system
  • Strong brakes
  • Reliability for current generation

The Bad

  • No Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Still slower than German rivals
  • Some cheap cabin finishes
  • Limited front-seat room
  • Modest gas mileage
  • Unintuitive climate controls

Notable Features of the 2017 Lexus IS 350

  • Updated styling for 2017
  • Five-seat sport sedan
  • Larger multimedia system
  • V-6 or turbo four-cylinder
  • Available F Sport package
  • Rear- or all-wheel drive

2017 Lexus IS 350 Road Test

Mike Hanley
The Verdict:

A weak drivetrain and frustrating controls were two big reasons the 2017 Lexus IS 200t finished last in our recent test of luxury sports sedans, but stepping up to the V-6-powered IS 350 doesn't completely solve the problem.

Versus The Competition:

While the IS looks the part of a luxury sports sedan thanks to aggressive exterior bodywork, its driving experience comes up short in a class that now, more than ever, is filled with fun-to-drive cars.

The IS sedan comes in three flavors, each with a different drivetrain. The base IS 200t is powered by a 241-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the mid-level IS 300 gets a 255-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and the top IS 350 uses a 306-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The IS 200t and IS 350 have standard rear-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmissions. All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard on the IS 300 and optional on the IS 350; if you choose AWD, the eight-speed transmission is replaced with a six-speed automatic. Compare these cars' specs here.

We drove an IS 200t with an as-tested price of $47,523 (including a $975 destination charge) and a rear-wheel-drive IS 350 with an as-tested price of $49,579. Options on both cars included navigation, a Mark Levinson premium stereo and the F Sport Package. This performance-oriented package includes a unique grille and front bumper, 18-inch F Sport wheels with all-season or summer tires, heated and ventilated F Sport front seats, aluminum pedals and an F Sport suspension that, in the IS 350, also includes computer-controlled adaptive damping.

How It Drives

In an era of powerful, responsive sport-tuned turbo four-cylinder engines, the IS 200t's underwhelming four-cylinder drivetrain is an outlier. Gas pedal response is very gradual, and power comes on much more slowly than it does in competitors like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4 and BMW 330i. The subjective scores and objective performance numbers from our comparison test be...

The IS sedan comes in three flavors, each with a different drivetrain. The base IS 200t is powered by a 241-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the mid-level IS 300 gets a 255-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and the top IS 350 uses a 306-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The IS 200t and IS 350 have standard rear-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmissions. All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard on the IS 300 and optional on the IS 350; if you choose AWD, the eight-speed transmission is replaced with a six-speed automatic. Compare these cars' specs here.

We drove an IS 200t with an as-tested price of $47,523 (including a $975 destination charge) and a rear-wheel-drive IS 350 with an as-tested price of $49,579. Options on both cars included navigation, a Mark Levinson premium stereo and the F Sport Package. This performance-oriented package includes a unique grille and front bumper, 18-inch F Sport wheels with all-season or summer tires, heated and ventilated F Sport front seats, aluminum pedals and an F Sport suspension that, in the IS 350, also includes computer-controlled adaptive damping.

How It Drives

In an era of powerful, responsive sport-tuned turbo four-cylinder engines, the IS 200t's underwhelming four-cylinder drivetrain is an outlier. Gas pedal response is very gradual, and power comes on much more slowly than it does in competitors like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4 and BMW 330i. The subjective scores and objective performance numbers from our comparison test bear this out: The IS 200t had the lowest-rated powertrain of the seven cars we tested, and it was slowest both to 60 mph (7.6 seconds) and through the quarter-mile (15.5 seconds at 93 mph). Complete performance results for all the cars we tested are available here.

The V6-powered IS 350 also underwhelmed. Even though it's rated a healthy 306 hp, it doesn't feel as quick and sporty as you'd expect — particularly on the highway. While the IS 350 easily keeps pace with highway traffic in general, when you need more oomph to pass, the V6's reserve power and lb-ft of torque is modest.


Editors had problems with the eight-speed automatic transmission, too. Though it doesn't make the kind of abrupt, unrefined shifts we've experienced in some high-gear-count transmissions — like the nine-speed automatic in some Jeeps — they complained that the transmission paired with the four-cylinder engine was slow to respond and had trouble picking the right gear. The transmission works better with the V6, where it readily performed both part-throttle downshifts and full-throttle kickdowns.

The IS 200t wasn't particularly fun to drive, either, favoring driver isolation over involvement. There's not a lot of steering feedback, and turn-in is gradual. Editors also dinged the IS 200t's firm, busy ride and overall lack of athleticism. The Cadillac ATS, Giulia and Jaguar XE were much more entertaining sedans.

The IS 350's F Sport suspension is firm. You feel it most when you hit a manhole cover or drive on rougher pavement. Otherwise, the ride is comfortable, controlled and well-suited for long-distance cruising. The suspension doesn't feel different between the Normal and Sport S settings, but the ride is a little harder in Sport S Plus mode.

The IS 200t's EPA-estimated gas mileage of 22/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined is within a few mpg of its four-cylinder competitors. In the IS 350, estimated gas mileage dips to 19/28/22 mpg.

The Inside

Like some of its competitors, the IS' cabin is snug. If you like to sit with the driver's seat raised as I do, the side window and roof won't be far from your head; my head once hit the roof when driving over a big bump (I'm 6-foot-1). There's good legroom in front: The driver's footwell is wide, and the bolstered F Sport seats are soft yet supportive, holding you securely in place when cornering.

With its good legroom and foot space, the backseat is big enough to comfortably seat two adults. It's roomier than the Giulia's or ATS' backseat, but the roof encroaches a bit here, too. The seat cushion is also a little low, resulting in a slightly knees-raised seating position. The center floor hump is extremely large; anyone riding in the middle seat would have to find foot space in the outer footwells.

Folding the standard 60/40-split rear seat reveals a big ledge where the trunk floor and backrest meet, making it difficult to slide a long piece of cargo into the car and shrinking the opening between the trunk and passenger area. You can lock the folding seats from the trunk, which deactivates the cabin seat-release buttons.

Most of the surfaces you touch have a high-grade feel, like the soft-touch trim on the doors. It's consistently applied, so backseat passengers enjoy the same premium materials as those in front. However, the patterned-plastic and silver-colored surfaces look cheap — a problem magnified by competitors like the A4, which includes standard aluminum trim.

The cabin has some unique elements, but they're a mix of hits and misses. One of the hits is the motorized instrument cluster that's included in the F Sport Package. It features a large tachometer and digital speedometer surrounded by a few other data points, like engine temperature and fuel level. Pressing a button on the steering wheel slides the tachometer screen to the right to show additional information, such as radio stations. Lexus could have used a single digital display to create these different views, but the motorized element is a neat touch.

On the other hand, the multimedia system's volume and tuning knobs are a miss. They have a rubberized finish, which is a little odd, and the tops of them are beveled, which gives them a strange feel. We're not fans of the touch-sensitive sliders for adjusting driver and passenger temperature, either.

Undoubtedly the biggest miss is Lexus' frustrating Remote Touch controller, which comes with the optional navigation system but also controls other functions. It's not as bad as the trackpad-style interface in other Lexus models, but the IS' console-mounted, mouselike controller is much harder to use than the 3 Series' iDrive system or the Mercedes-Benz C-class C300's Comand, both of which employ rotary knobs instead.

The biggest issue with Remote Touch is its freeform nature, which creates problems in a moving car. The mouse controller moves a cursor on the dashboard display, and even though the system incorporates haptic feedback, which you feel when the cursor lands on a selection, it still requires too much of your attention and is hard to use by feel alone. The navigation system's 10.3-inch screen is new for the 2017 model year; its high-resolution graphics look great, and a split-screen view makes the most of the widescreen layout.

Safety

The IS received good scores (on a scale of poor, marginal, acceptable and good) in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's roof strength test and moderate overlap front and side impact crash tests. It received an acceptable rating in IIHS' small overlap front crash test and for its headlight performance, and its newly standard automatic emergency braking system with pedestrian detection was rated superior, the highest score possible. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the IS a five-star overall rating — the highest possible — for its crash performance and rollover risk.  

The emergency braking system is part of the IS' standard Lexus Safety System Plus, which also includes lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high-beam headlights and adaptive cruise control. A backup camera and a blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert are optional.

Value in Its Class

It has been a little more than four years since we last compared luxury sport sedans, and a lot has changed since then. While the 3 Series won our test in 2013, it finished second to last this time, just ahead of the IS 200t. Why the fall? The BMW is now one of the older models in the class, and it was beaten by fresher competitors like the redesigned A4 and all-new Giulia.

Last redesigned for the 2014 model year, the IS is also one of the older cars in our comparison test. Even though its turbo four-cylinder drivetrain debuted for the 2016 model year, it didn't do much to help the cause. Whether you're looking for luxury or are more interested in sport in your next compact luxury sedan, you'll have better luck with one of the IS' competitors.


Latest 2017 IS 350 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(3.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(3.0)

07 is 350

by gto from az on September 19, 2017

17 IS 350 was boring compared to previous body style. Consumer Report agrees with me. Drove like a bigger car and did not have the sporty handling like my 2017 IS 350. Read full review

(5.0)

New love Lexus 350 IS F sport

by Old Infinity Fan from Indian Land SC on May 8, 2017

I used to only buy Infinity, now I have a new love! The look the ride all the bells and whistles ,I love this car I highly recommend the performance , speed and attention to detail AWESOME! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Lexus IS 350 currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2017 Lexus IS 350 Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 70,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Lexus

Program Benefits

Every L/Certified vehicle now comes with an unlimited-mileage warranty up to 6 years, complimentary maintenance plan. Each L/Certified Pre-Owned Lexus must pass a rigorous inspection and be thoroughly reconditioned to meet the same high standards as a new Lexus. Exclusively at a Lexus dealership.

  • Limited Warranty

    Unlimited Mileage Warranty Up To 6 Years

    Warranty is valid for a minimum of two years/unlimited mileage after the expiration of 4 yr/50,000 mile new vehicle Basic Warranty, or two years from L/Certified purchase or lease date, whichever occurs later.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 70,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 161 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The IS 350 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Latch or Latch system

A

Infant seat

B

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A

Booster

(second row)

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker