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2015 Lexus IS 350

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/5/2015 Stefan Ogbac
© Lexus

New for 2015

The 2015 Lexus IS 350 gains LED fog lights, Siri Eyes Free compatibility with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, available Lexus Enform Remote, and revised interior trim, which includes piano black on window switches and instrument panels. Heated and ventilated seats have been added to F Sport models while all-wheel-drive F Sport models also add a heated steering wheel. The rearview camera now adds dynamic gridlines and Stratus Gray replaces Light Gray in the exterior color palette.

Vehicle Summary

The 2015 Lexus IS 350 is a compact luxury sports sedan available in rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations. The four-door is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque that's mated to an eight-speed automatic in rear-drive models or a six-speed automatic in all-wheel-drive variants. Fuel economy is average for the class at 19/28 mpg city/highway in rear-drive cars and 19/26 mpg with all-wheel drive. A less powerful model, the IS 250, is equipped with a 204-hp 2.5-liter V-6.

Overview

Performance remains one of the 2015 Lexus IS 350's strengths with its excellent handling and a powertrain that offers plenty of power. Rear-drive F Sport models provide the best performance because of its extra handling improvements, which includes variable steering, adaptive and variable suspension, larger brakes, and 18-inch wheels wrapped in summer tires. Despite being an engaging car to drive, the IS 350 doesn't sacrifice ride comfort in the name of performance, with the car remaining easy to live with. However, opting for all-wheel drive hurts the car's overall performance due to the extra weight.

Interior fit and finish in the 2015 IS 350 is top notch with high-quality materials used throughout the cabin and great ergonomics. In F Sport models, the instrument cluster takes inspiration from the LFA supercar and the GS midsize sport sedan, making it a pleasant place to spend time in and gives it a unique character. Space for four passengers is acceptable while the 60/40 split-folding rear seats expand the car's 13.8 cubic-foot trunk. Exterior styling, on the other hand, is an acquired taste due it being extremely polarizing especially from the front with its split headlights and spindle grille.

The NHTSA gave the 2015 Lexus IS 350 a five-star overall safety rating (out of a possible five stars). In IIHS evaluations, the car received a Good score in two categories (Good is the highest possible score).

What We Think

Love or hate the polarizing front fascia, what you have in the 2015 Lexus IS 350 is an excellent luxury sports sedan that offers impressive handling without compromising ride quality. In a comparison test against the Infiniti Q50S, the IS 350 F Sport won because it was an excellent all-around sports sedan, with a chassis that blends ride and handling beautifully, and a well thought-out interior inspired by the LFA and GS sedan. The eight-speed automatic in rear-drive IS 350s is also a highlight because it shifts based on g-forces, held lower gears when cornering, and ensures that the V-6's power is readily available. We noted in a comparison test among five all-wheel-drive luxury sports sedans that the IS 350 AWD didn't handle as well as its rear-drive sibling while the steering was "a bit heavy and almost hesitant when coming back to center." As a result, the IS 350 AWD placed third, above the Cadillac ATS and Volvo S60 but behind the Audi S4 and the comparison winner, the BMW335i xDrive. The infotainment system's remote controller, while user-friendly, is distracting to operate since it forces the driver to look away from the road.

You'll Like

  • Excellent ride and handling balance
  • Well-built and laid out cabin
  • Responsive eight-speed automatic

You Won't Like

  • Predator-like front grille that looks like it'll eat people for lunch
  • All-wheel drive compromises handling
  • Infotainment remote controller is distracting to use

Key Competitors

  • BMW 335i
  • Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic
  • Audi S4
  • Volvo S60 T6
  • Cadillac ATS 3.6

Rating

4 star

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