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2015 Lexus IS 350 C REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/4/2017

Con: Minuscule trunk space with the top down; cramped backseat; poor rear visibility.

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Interior: Inside the 2015 Lexus IS 350 C you'll find an attractive and well-stitched passenger cabin accented by top-quality materials. Gauges and controls are clear and intuitive, though navigation-equipped models make it a little harder to access touchscreen-controlled features like audio and climate functions while the nav system is in use. This nav system's smartphone integration features include Internet radio stations like Pandora and iHeartRadio, as well as Yelp reviews for restaurants.

Up front, the seats offer good comfort and support and the power-adjustable seats and steering wheel make it easy to find an ideal driving position. Rear-seat occupants are not so lucky, as this is a very tight backseat that's useful only in a pinch. Trunk space varies from fair to minuscule, as there's an adequate 10.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the roof raised, but just a paltry 2.4 cubic feet with the top down. That's enough for one modest-sized golf bag, but not much else.

Body: The 2015 Lexus IS 350 C is a four-passenger, retractable-hardtop luxury convertible offered in one well-equipped trim level. There is also an IS 250 C with a smaller engine that's reviewed separately.

Standard equipment on the IS 350 C includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a center console with a sliding armrest, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats with two-way lumbar control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio and display controls, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio input jack and iPod/USB interface. Also standard is the Safety Connect telematics system, which includes collision notification, stolen vehicle and emergency assistance services.

The optional Luxury package includes bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, genuine wood trim, driver and front passenger seat memory settings, illuminated door sills and one-touch power slide/fold/return fronts seats for easier rear-seat access.

The Navigation package adds a navigation system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth automatic phonebook downloading, voice commands, HD radio and Lexus Enform enhanced telematics features (which include functions like emergency roadside assistance and smartphone app integration). A 12-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system can be added to the navigation system.

Other options include parking sensors and adaptive cruise control bundled with the company's Pre-Collision frontal collision warning system. An F Sport option package is also available. It comes with 18-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension and steering, heated and ventilated front sport seats, a unique steering wheel and shift knob, door-sill scuff plates and unique exterior and interior trim. This package is available with either all-season or summer tires.

Driving: Unquestionably, the IS 350 C's 306-hp V6 engine is more lively than the IS 250 C's smaller engine. We think the added performance easily justifies the 350's higher price. Enthusiast drivers may be put off by the standard automatic transmission's sluggish responses to rapid gas pedal inputs, as well as the car's rather slow steering, though.

On the move, the 2015 Lexus IS 350 C feels refined and quick. The body structure is solid enough to remain composed even over poor road surfaces, something not all convertibles can claim. The retractable hardtop enhances this feeling by providing plenty of isolation from outside noise and temperature extremes.

What’s New: Apart from minor upgrades to its Lexus Enform App Suite, the 2015 Lexus IS 350 C is unchanged.

The 2015 Lexus IS 350 C features a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 306 hp and 277 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission that includes manual shift control.

In Edmunds testing, an IS fitted with optional F Sport performance equipment accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway).

Safety: Standard safety features on the 2015 Lexus IS 350 C include antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags (torso and head-protecting), front seat knee airbags, hill start assist and Lexus Safety Connect emergency telematics.

Included with the optional adaptive cruise control is a forward collision warning/preparation system. This system immediately tightens front seatbelts and activates brake assist when the driver presses the brake pedal if sensors detect an impending collision. Parking sensors and a rearview camera are also optional.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Lexus IS 350 C (with an upgraded F Sport accessory brake kit and optional summer performance tires) stopped from 60 mph in 112 feet -- a good distance but exactly what you'd expect from a car of this caliber with upgraded tires and brakes.

Pro: High-quality interior; powerful and refined V6 engine; smooth ride quality; all-weather hardtop; golfer-friendly trunk.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 Lexus IS 350 C delivers brisk performance and a high standard of comfort and refinement in a hardtop convertible, but not without a few compromises.

Introduction: Lexus is known for crafting vehicles with high levels of luxury and comfort, and with the 2015 IS 350 C, you can get just that in the form of a convertible. Premium both inside and out, the 2015 Lexus IS 350 C quickly facilitates carefree top-down cruising whenever the mood strikes. Should there be a threat of rain, its hardtop can be raised to protect against the elements, essentially transforming the car from a convertible to a coupe.

The IS 350 C has enough positive attributes to satisfy most luxury-convertible shoppers. Offering quick acceleration and impeccable smoothness, its 306-horsepower V6 engine excels in both athleticism and refinement. Distinguished by high-quality materials and eye-catching design, the car's cabin looks and feels plush and expensive. It's also pretty quiet with the hardtop raised, and the roof takes a mere 20 seconds to stow. Ride quality is smooth and stable, and this Lexus remains unruffled even on rough pavement.

Still, the 2015 IS 350 C is not without flaw, and its deficiencies concern utility and handling. Trunk space is decimated by the folding hardtop; with the roof lowered, you're left with just 2.4 cubic feet of space. Rear seats are cramped, making them uncomfortable for adults perched in back, especially on longer journeys. And while the IS 350 C offers crisp acceleration, its suspension is tuned more for comfort than sportiness. Drivers seeking the sharpest handling may find the car's response to steering inputs disappointingly lethargic.

The entry-level luxury convertible segment is small but talented. If sharp handling is a priority, the 2015 BMW 4 Series convertible or the 2015 Infiniti Q60 will be a better fit in this price range. Another worthy pick is the 2015 Audi S5, which offers all-wheel drive and more rear passenger room and trunk space than the Lexus. Among this group, the IS 350 C holds its own, but you'll certainly want to shop around before making a final decision.

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