2006 Lexus IS 350 - Test drive and new car review - 2006 Lexus IS350 | Catalog-cars

2006 Lexus IS 350 – Test drive and new car review – 2006 Lexus IS350

25 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2006 Lexus IS 350 – Test drive and new car review – 2006 Lexus IS350
Lexus IS350

With a little more soul, it’d be perfect

The original Lexus IS was a bold attempt at competing with the BMW 3-Series. It was quick and handled well but enthusiasts ignored it. Now Lexus has pushed the envelope in styling and performance with a range-topping 3.5 liter version that pumps 306 hp through a 6-speed manumatic, offers all the techno-aids, and presents a sleek silhouette.

Clearly this car is meant to be noticed, though such attention will cost you $39,525 for the as-tested car. EPA mileage: 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway.

First glance: Deliver us from temptation.

There are cars I hate to give back and some I return with a sigh of relief. The Lexus IS350 is one of the latter. Not that it isn’t a good car; it’s a great car. But it was seducing me into dangerous temptations. For example, I almost got a speeding ticket, the first in 15 years.

I’d turned onto a divided highway and found myself stuck behind a young woman crawling along in the passing lane. I had little option but to pass on the right. Mistrusting her moves, I put the pedal to the metal and with no traffic ahead, kept it there.

In mere moments the speedo read 115 mph (the IS350 does 0-60 in 5.3 seconds). Whoops. flashing flights in the rear-view mirror! Thank goodness for paddle-shifters as I downshifted through 6th, 5th, 4th and quickly slowed to 60 mph without tell-tale brake lights.

The officer followed briefly, then, as we merged into traffic, gave up the chase. Later in the week, while negotiating a right turn on rain-slicked pavement, the tail flicked left the instant I accelerated. Massive oversteer! Immediately I turned the wheel to opposite lock but before I could demonstrate my, uh, superior driving talents, the Electronic Stability Control kicked in.

Saved again, though recovery wasn’t much fun.

In the Driver’s Seat: Fantastic once you’re in, but getting in is the problem

It’s all good once you get in – but getting in is the problem

#169; Philip Powell

Lexus IS350

So the Lexus IS350 is a performance temptress but what of her sexy interior? Lovely, if you can get in there. This is a classic case of form before function; stung by criticism of bland styling Lexus set out on a new path where design comes first. But at the price of convenience. The steeply raked windshield made every day a bad hair day, which grey-haired fellows like Taylor Hicks and me deeply resent (though he’s a better singer).

Once inside, one’s mood changes when admiring the traditional round knobs and functional layout; Lexus does not try to impress with technology, as opposed to its German competitors. The seats are meant for serious driving while lesser details like normally-flush map pockets that pop open on demand and an armrest that slides and tilts add functionality. Nevertheless the Lexus IS350 interior conceals a host of electronic aids meant only to be accessed when needed.

Being a simple guy I appreciated the exterior temperature monitor and the mirror-mounted compass; regardless of the many navaids now available to car drivers, I consider a compass to be the essential navigation tool, especially when combined with a hand-held map. Remember them? Remember when service stations gave them out free?

On the Road: This baby rocks!

Okay, folks, forget all the preceeding complaints. Out on the open road this baby rocks! It puts you in command of every situation where horsepower makes a difference. For example, changing lanes.

Even though a mirror-check indicates all clear, the engine assures clearing an obstacle you might not have seen. A 6-speed automatic is your willing ally, making a manual transmission (not available) redundant. In fact, this was one of the few manumantic cars where I frequently made use of the paddle shifters, mostly to hold a specific gear prior to corners but also when negotiating those turns.

On the other hand, if left to itself, the automatic can almost read your mind. Not so, the electric power steering: reasonably precise yet lacking road feel. Still, the Lexus IS350 is a true driver’s machine, a performance sedan that means business; one look at the front of the car, with those wide-track wheels set far outboard and little overhang, reveals its true purpose, for behind that powerful image is a potent all-aluminum V-6 with 306 hp at 6,400 rpm and 277 lbs/ft torque at 4,800 rpm.

Handling from this perfectly-balanced front engine, rear-drive combo is just what you’d expect. Lucky you if you find a road on which to enjoy.

Journey’s End: Tickle toes

Lexus IS350
Lexus IS350
Lexus IS350
Lexus IS350
Lexus IS350
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