Lexus Is 250 2019 Price and Review
With a range of engines and suspensions, the IS can transform from relaxed and refined to surprisingly capable. The base 241-hp turbo inline-four has an eight-speed automatic with rear-wheel drive only. All-wheel drive is available on both V-6 variants—a 3.5-liter producing 255 hp or 306 hp—but only offer a six-speed automatic. An F Sport package features a sport-tuned ride, supportive seats, and aggressive styling. Safety tech includes automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Automakers mimic each other. It’s one of the reasons for the character-sapping convergence among modern cars that we often lament. Take, for example, the entry-luxury sports-sedan segment, where nearly every automaker has fully turbocharged engine lineups and complicated electronic adjustments for practically every vehicle parameter from the suspension to the transmission. And then there’s the Lexus IS350 F Sport.
It, too, has an adaptive suspension and adjustable driving modes, but the steering, suspension, and powertrain cannot be individually adjusted as in the BMW 3-series or the Audi A4. You get four choices, including one good default Normal setting. The V-6–powered IS350 F Sport isn’t turbocharged like BMW’s 340i or Audi’s S4. And at $50,154 fully loaded, this range-topping, sportiest IS maxes out at approximately where pricing for the six-cylinder 3-series starts.
The Lexus isn’t above mimicry, as it clearly bogeys the 3-series—but it’s the E90-generation 3-series that went out of production in 2011. That’s good, because from a driving standpoint we still view that car more fondly than we do today’s F30 3-series. When this IS350 F Sport first appeared in 2013, it beat the current-gen 3-series in our sports-sedan comparison test. Four years later, the IS350 F Sport has undergone a mild refresh and gained standard active-safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning but has lost none of its charm.
Careful tuning lends the IS350 F Sport impressive range, from quiet and smooth and, well, Lexus-like, to quick-witted and screwed down. Yet it doesn’t feel like different cars at each extreme. This used to be the hallmark of BMW’s sedans, which could change demeanor from junior-executive commuters to back-road ballerinas as the driver’s mood dictated. Today, the 3-series is bipolar, ranging from the too-soft Comfort driving mode to an overly stiff ride and hair-trigger throttle in Sport Plus.
Not so the cohesively tuned Lexus. There is an Alfa Romeo Giulia–like linear progression through the IS350’s driving modes, from Normal through Sport S and Sport S+. Changes to the F Sport–exclusive adaptive suspension’s stiffness level don’t immediately register, and the steering incrementally takes on more heft without ever feeling like the airlock on the Red October. The car’s responses to control inputs in the lazy Eco mode and the less boring settings are recognizably the same car.
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