2011 Lexus IS 350 AWD Sedan, an AW Drivers Log – Autoweek

14 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Lexus IS 350 AWD Sedan, an AW Drivers Log – Autoweek

Lexus IS350

2011 Lexus IS 350 AWD Sedan, an AW Drivers Log

Shopping for a NEW or used vehicle? Click here to start your search.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: I love the engine in this thing. It’s quick and quite responsive. I would love a six-speed manual better, and the yellow light that popped up in the tach at 5,000 rpm surprised me, because the engine continued to pull right up to the 7,500-rpm redline.

Oh, well.

My only real complaint with this car is the tiny footwell for the driver. The transmission/transfer case takes up a bunch of space and really cramps the cockpit.

The sound system rocks in this car, although the tire compound really made a bunch of noise on concrete pavement. Beyond that, this is a pretty tight little sedan that’s working very hard to be as sporty as can be, with all the typical Lexus luxury features.

NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: I was impressed with this Lexus. The engine is an outstanding V6–plenty of power and very responsive. It’s a breeze to dart by slower-moving traffic, and it’s smooth and supple.

This is one of the all-around better engines I’ve piloted lately.

The IS 350 is a really solid, well-executed sedan on nearly all fronts. The transmission works solidly with the V6, shifting quickly when necessary and in an orderly fashion. This Lexus can really take off on the expressway to slice up traffic, and it’s easy to blitz beyond posted speeds as the tach revs past 5,500 rpm. I took off from a light, and the launch was performed with verve and vigor.

This is a true luxury sedan with sporty ethos.

The inside is smartly done, and the materials on the door panels and the top of the dash feel pleasing. The dark colors present elegantly, and the gauges with white numerals are easy to read and athletic. I found the seats quite comfortable with nice, low-key bolsters and a soft feel.

The suspension is sporty and well-tuned, and the body maintains its bearing at all times. I like the all-wheel-drive capability but would probably opt for rear-wheel drive in my personal car. The brakes return quick bite early into pedal travel, and the drive character is in general well-civilized.

Oh, and the gas needle didn’t move during my 60-mile commute.

As Roger notes, I detected tire noise during two different expressway stints, and it seemed a bit un-Lexus-like. My other complaint has to do with the paddle shifters. They’re definitely fun to use but they don’t display the gear until you tap into the manual mode. As a result, I dropped into third gear unnecessarily a couple times–which I wouldn’t have done had the gear been evident.

Seems as if you should be able to pull one of the paddles to get into the mode and then be able to operate it from there.

Otherwise, this is an impressive sedan that is well-crafted and fun to drive. It’s no surprise Lexus sells these things like hotcakes.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR–AUTOWEEK.COM BOB GRITZINGER: Count me in with the crowd that loves this Lexus–it’s possibly the best model the brand has to offer. The engine is strong, yet quiet and refined, the chassis is capable, and the interior is well-crafted and functional with a glovelike driver’s seat, and the styling seems more timeless than trendy. Toss in the all-wheel drive, and the IS 350 is an all-season sports sedan with all of the trimmings.

I particularly enjoyed running the IS in sport mode, using the steering-wheel paddles to keep the revs right for the road. The high-revving engine allows for a wide power band in each gear, so you can build up and carry plenty of speed with good engine control, without worrying about the trans suddenly upshifting and throwing off the balance when you least expect it.

The driving contrast to that of the hybrid Lexus CT 200h I drove back-to-back with the IS couldn’t have been more stark. Where the CT is rather numbing, the IS is a visceral thrill ride. Where the IS begs to be flogged to the limit, the CT seems to be saying let’s all just take it easy and see how miles per gallon we can rack up.

Though the IS will cost you more up front and will only post about half the fuel economy of the CT, if you care about the drive, you’ll want to consider the upgrade to the IS 350.

P.S. I turned off the warning lights on the tach and speedo that Roger was talking about. The switch is below and left of the steering column.

ASSOCIATE EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Bob is correct about the IS model range probably being the best offerings in the Lexus lineup (well, besides the LFA). No wait, let me be a little more specific. The IS sedans are the best offerings from Lexus because the IS convertibles are not just ugly, but they drive about as well as a wet noodle.

Getting back to this particular test car, this IS 350 AWD sedan is good. It shouldn’t be a surprise because Lexus has been chasing another great car for years, the BMW 3-series. It goes without question that the BMW is the measuring stick in this segment.

Playing catch-up is good motivation for a car company to produce some good products.

So, what’s to like? I’ll have to agree with everyone on the 3.5-liter V6 being potent, smooth and responsive to throttle inputs. The six-speed automatic gearbox is also noteworthy for its quick shifts and a decent paddle-shift mode.

One thing that is nice about the paddles themselves here is that they are nice and big to make selecting gears that much easier.

The chassis is solid with a suspension that offers a good balance between keeping things planted around corners and having the ability to soak up small bumps that you’re bound to come across on the daily commute. Steering is responsive with acceptable weight tuned in, and the brakes offer plenty of grab.

I find the IS interior comfortable with user-friendly controls, supportive seats, a comfortable seating position, good noise isolation from the wind and first-rate materials. The leathers are soft and the panel gaps are tight. In the interior department, I would put this Lexus right up there with the Audi A4 and above the 3-series.

What are the kinks in this car’s armor? You can’t get a manual transmission in the IS 350. We’ve been complaining about this for years and Lexus still hasn’t done anything about it.

Heck, even the IS-F is stuck with an automatic gearbox.

Lexus IS350

Oh, and there is another big problem with this particular test car: the tires. On my ride home from work I noticed a lot of tire noise, as others mentioned. When I got home to see what this car was shod with, I discovered the problem.

There are Bridgestone Potenza RE92s on this car, which seem to be Bridgestone’s magic bullet for OEMs who wanted an inexpensive, mediocre tire.

My 1999 Honda Prelude Type SH had these from the factory and they weren’t good in the wet, terrible in the cold and on snow and not even all that great in the dry. On top of that, they are loud. What other cars have had the RE92 installed as the OEM tire over the years? Off the top of my head, older Subaru Imprezas (both 2.5RS and WRX models), Honda Civics and even some Toyota Yaris models come from the factory with these things.

Lexus needs to find some new stock rubber for this car, and it needs to do it now.

2011 Lexus IS 350 AWD Sedan

Base Price: $41,905

As-Tested Price: $47,130

Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6; AWD, six-speed automatic

Output: 306 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 277 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,703 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/ AW ): 20/22.2 mpg

Options: Navigation system/Mark Levinson premium audio package including 14-speaker premium sound system, DVD/CD changer, hard-disk-drive navigation system with backup camera, Lexus Enform with destination assist and edestination, Lexus insides, voice command and satellite radio with weather, traffic sports and stocks ($3,905); luxury plus value edition including 17-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, wood interior trim and perforated semi-aniline leather seat upgrade, HID with LED daytime running lights, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, driver memory seat, illuminated scuff plates, power rear sunshade and rain-sensing wipers ($1,320)

Get more car news, reviews and opinion every day: Sign up to have the Autoweek Daily Drive delivered right to your inbox.

Article commenting is currently disabled for maintenance; in the meantime, connect with us on Twitter @AutoweekUSA. @AutoweekRacing. or Facebook at facebook.com/AutoWeekUSA .

Lexus IS350
Lexus IS350
Lexus IS350
Lexus IS350
Tagged as:

Other articles of the category "Lexus":

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts


Born in the USSR


About this site

For all questions about advertising, please contact listed on the site.

Car Catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions about cars