The premium sedan segments are heavy with excellent choices and the 2015 Lexus IS 350, largely unchanged from last year, stays competitive thanks to those things that Lexus delivers best: premium sophistication and a quality luxury experience.
Quick Specs & Info
|2015 Lexus IS 350||Class: Small Luxury Sedan|
|Base Model||As Tested: F-Sport AWD|
|Powertrain||3.5L V6, 8spd auto||Powertrain||3.5L V6, 6spd auto|
|Base MSRP||$40,065||MSRP as tested||$50,375|
We’re not new to the Lexus IS 350, of course. We drove both the IS 350 F-Sport and Convertible models last year. With few exceptions, in fact, we’ve driven nearly all of the Lexus models on offer for 2015 as well. The 2015 IS 350 remains largely unchanged from last year and if you’ll recall, we greatly enjoyed it then as we did now.
There are several cars that come to mind when the term “luxury sports sedan” is mentioned. Usually they’re pretty far out of our price range, being dreamy vehicles with British names like Aston and Rolls. In the real world, luxury sedans instead have names like IS350.
Interior of the 2015 Lexus IS 350
The best way to summarize the interior experience in the Lexus IS 350 is thus: it’s top-notch with excellent materials quality and a lot of detailed amenities. Padding is found everywhere, even at the knee-high point on the center console as well as across the dash and doors. Comfort is the singular goal of the beautiful Lexus interior with the 2015 IS 350 boasting a lot of it.
Seating is excellent and very well made. The back seats are accommodating to most passengers, making the IS series one of the largest compact luxury sedans in terms of passenger seating room. Even trunk space is better than most, at 13.8 cubic feet.
Under the Hood of the IS 350
The 2015 Lexus IS 350 has a 3.5-liter V6 that creates 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. This well-proven power plant runs through an eight-speed automatic transmission in rear-wheel drive with an optional six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive (as we drove it). Paddle shifters are standard equipment on both transmissions.
The IS 350 is billed as a sports sedan, but the sportiness is more about feel than actual performance. Our average 0-60 mph time was only about 6.3 seconds, but the car feels quicker than that, which is what really matters to the buyer in this class.
The EPA gives the 2015 IS 350 a 22 mpg combined rating (19 city, 28 highway) in its RWD model. The numbers change to 21 mpg combined (19/26) for AWD. Our average was not far off that, hitting about 18.5 mpg combined in our AWD test car.
Out on the Road in the 2015 IS 350
We greatly enjoyed the easygoing, well-mannered drive that the 2015 Lexus IS 350 offers. It has a satisfying engine sound, solid cornering characteristics, and the F-Sport model features selectable driving modes for more control, including suspension attributes. Knowing that the IS 350 aced its crash testing from both the NHTSA and IIHS adds to this confidence.
The single best thing about driving the IS 350 is its precise steering and excellent ride quality. The driver always feels in control, whether around town or on the highway. Winding country roads are a pleasure in the IS 350, especially in the F-Sport package. Whether flying solo or carrying the family along, the 2015 IS 350 is an enjoyable car to drive.
Competitors in the luxury sedan market are aggressive and notable. The BMW 3-Series caters to the Teutonic lust for power, the Audi A4 has turbocharging, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is luxury at its pinnacle. Compared to these, most will find that the IS 350 is well-rounded and mannered with a higher resale value retention as well.
- Strong value proposition for a luxury vehicle.
- Comfortable and well-mannered on the road.
- Not as sporty or fast-paced as some competitors.
Nothing has changed in the 2015 Lexus IS 350 because nothing needed changing. This is an excellent sedan that brings exactly what a luxury sedan buyer is likely looking for. Others might be sportier or more over-the-top luxurious, but none bring the near-perfect balance of luxury, comfort, and sport that the IS 350 does.
Test Period Length and Limitations
The IS 350 was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, about 150 miles were put on the car with various passenger loads.