Today: Jul 04 , 2020

Auto Corner: 2015 Lexus IS 350

13 March 2015  

Though both raw ambition and determination are required in order to outwit European rivals, the Lexus brand continues to stake its claim within the compact luxury segment with the venerable IS.

2015 Lexus IS

Personality: Mark Zuckerberg. In other words - young, rich, and ambitious.

Best Gizmo: Top notch interior craftsmanship 

Most Annoying Feature: Perhaps the less than stellar gas mileage

MPG (as tested): 19 city / 28 highway for the IS350

Performance: More than adequate if you spring for the 3.5 liter engine

Cars we smoked at stoplights: All of them except the Maserati

0-60: 7.2 seconds (IS 250) 4.9 seconds (IS 350)

How Fast Is That? Decent, but it sure makes the 350 appear to be worth the extra cash

How Much? Base price is $36,550, but jump up with options and engines to reach well above $50,000

What option should I splurge on? Blind Spot Monitor, which is part of the navigation package

Serious Contenders? BMW 3-Series, Infinity Q50, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the Audi A4

This year, the four door variant carries over the 2014 model’s bold exterior and further enhances the interior. With exceptional handling and Toyota brand reliability, the IS remains a popular force and a worthy companion of the young and the wealthy.

Last year, the IS went “under the knife” and emerged bolder and stronger, ready to go head to head with the redesigned BMW 3 series and Mercedes Benz C-Class. Walking around the exterior of the 2015, you would notice that the new model brings over the sharpened edges and maintains the hourglass shaped grill with Lexus badge. Of course, the IS sports the LED running lights that are synonymous with luxury cars on the road today. 

Under the hood, the engines are unchanged with the IS 250 gaining power from a 2.5-liter V6 capable of 204 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. While very capable of smooth acceleration and boasting impressive gas milage, bump up to the IS 350 for a 3.5-liter V6 churring out 306 horsepower. Both engines include the now standard dual overhead cams, direct injection, and variable valve timing.

Once on the inside, high expectations are met with strong attention to detail. The center console and dash are quickly mastered with large dials and intuitive controls. We must take pause here to note that our press car was the IS 350 F Sport, which means two things: One—it costs $3,740 more than the base IS 350. Two—it has an instrument cluster unlike any other.  Both a large digital tachometer and a speedometer readout are center screen, and with the simple press of a steering wheel button, the giant tachometer shifts to the right to afford a better view of messages, navigation, your current tunes list, and a host of other features. Additionally, bumping up to the F-sport also adds 18 inch - 5 spoke wheels, refined suspension, and a variety of other features.

A few things to note for your test drive of the IS — be sure to take the RPM’s above 4,000 in order to hear the growling exhaust notes normally reserved for older V-8 engines. Also, don’t hesitate to be aggressive when it comes to punching the gas around corners to test the excellent traction and steering. Although still lagging behind in pure sport compared to some rivals, the IS does an excellent job justifying its presence in the lineup.

Years of development followed by nearly two decades of production prove this is a tried and true model capable of the meeting stringent performance standards. The Lexus IS is a proven combination of luxury, sport, comfort, reliability and performance. The lucky few who can afford the additional F-Sport package will be further rewarded.

© 2015 John Kehlenbeck, Horsepower Auto Reviews

John Kehlenbeck

Each month John Kehlenbeck tests a worthy car. From the mundane stats of zero-to-60 time all the way to the incredibly important aspects of a vehicle, like cup holder location and bluetooth integration, Kehlenbeck dissects the details to give you the information you actually care about.