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Average User Score
4.5 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 13 reviews
2008 Lexus IS 350 Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 13 reviews
Redesigned in 2006 and featuring only minor tweaks for 2008, the IS 350 continues Lexus's luxury sports sedan tradition. The IS line competes directly with the BMW 3 Series as well as the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C300.
The "middle brother" of the IS line - Lexus unveiled a brand-new big brother, the IS F, for the 2009 model year - the IS 350 is powered by an all-aluminum 3.5-liter V6 with dual Variable Valve Timing and direct fuel injection that produces 306 hp. The IS 350 is available only with a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission. The IS 350, in a Road & Track test, sprinted from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds (Edmunds managed it in 5.6). Testers found the automatic easy to live with and fun to use. The engine was praised for its power and "silky-smooth, quiet" operation.
Handling, as expected in a sports sedan, is responsive and balanced, and the IS 350 is a hoot to drive. Steering is quick, and left/right transitions are "razor-sharp." Yet the IS 350 does have a tendency to understeer, with the front end following its own path in tight turns; the rear end just stays planted. When run against its direct competitor, the BMW 3 Series still gets the nod for overall handling. Lexus has placed its handling emphasis more on ride quality than out-and-out performance.
The interior offers Lexus-level luxury - the finest fit and finish, using upscale trim materials and the latest electronics. But, as with most sports sedans, the back seats are cramped for adults and larger children on long trips. Controls wrap around the driver, putting everything within easy reach and sight. Leather seats are standard, as is metallic trim, with genuine maple optional. Lexus has put much effort into making the cabin a quiet place. They start with a rigid body structure, then add strategically placed noise-suppression materials, which even include special window and door seals, acoustic windshield glass, and sound-absorbing sun visors.
Lexus builds the IS with a reinforced passenger compartment that includes front- and rear-crush structures. The standard airbag system includes advanced dual-stage front airbags, front-seat-mounted side airbags, knee airbags for both front occupants, and side-curtain airbags. The IS 350 comes standard with Lexus's most advanced electronic control system, Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM), which is a system that integrates braking, steering, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), and Traction Control (TRAC) systems to minimize loss of traction in a turn.
Fast, elegant, and luxurious, the Lexus IS line is in hot pursuit of the German luxury sports sedans.