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2010 Lexus IS 350 ReviewThe Good
An engine that provides on-command power in all situations, a suspension that compromises in the best of ways, and fresh styling create a solid package in the 2010 Lexus IS 350.The Bad
The 2010 ES 350 is essentially a compact car, and mileage of 18/25 doesn’t just fail to impress, it’s simply bad.
The CarGurus View
If you can accept the fact that the IS 350 is a compact car, and can swallow its poor mileage, you could definitely do worse. The engine is fun, responsive, and composed, even under load, the transmission is smooth and precise, and the design is fresh and complete. There are better options out there, but only when considering price and fuel economy - two very large factors.
At a Glance
When Lexus introduced the second-generation IS in 2005, they bragged that the L-finesse design, with its fastback profile and forward design would result in aesthetics and aerodynamics that were bound to impress. With its .28 drag coefficient, the Lexus IS series outperforms cars well out of its league in regards to performance, like the Corvette, Lotus Elise, and Porsche Boxster.
The IS 350 takes many of the major disappointments of the 250 and improves on them directly, with its 3.5-liter V6 engine pushing out more than 100 additional horsepower over its little brother, the IS 250. Otherwise, the 350 is almost identical to the 250, offered in the same four-door sedan platform, with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).
The 2GR-FSE 3.5-liter V6 engine in the Lexus IS 350 uses a twin injection fuel system, a combination of direct and traditional port injection that allows for maximum efficiency, with direct injection taking over exclusively under high-load situations for maximum power.
Producing 306 hp at 6,400 rpm, the 350 bests the 250 by 102 horses at the same peak rpm, and also produces an additional 92 lb-ft of torque at the same 4,800-rpm peak. This means a sub-6-second 0-to-60-mph jaunt that improves on the 250's by almost 3 seconds. Best of all, with its six-speed automatic, it gives up only 1 mpg to the 250, although it’s still far from a bastion of efficiency. With the required premium gas, the 350 returns an EPA estimated 18/25 mpg.
Mileage is the one shortcoming of the 350's setup, as its 3.5-liter engine provides ample, responsive power with little intrusion, and the six-speed automatic delivers that power with inspiring competence.
Ride & Handling
With the power available, the IS 350’s suspension threatens to be overloaded, but never feels overtaxed. Slight body lean and roll are experienced, but composure is maintained. The double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension absorbs all but the harshest inconsistencies with ease, and without the stiffness that a sportier ride would impart. Long trips are made much easier with the well-balanced comfort and performance the system provides, above the class average at least.
The electronic steering system is one of the best available, providing responsive, informative performance that gives up nothing and provides increased fuel efficiency. Brakes are similarly competent, bringing the vehicle to a stop without worry.
Cabin & Comfort
The Lexus IS 350 has an interior filled with gauges and controls that are easy to read, easy to reach, and easy to operate. Even its navigation system, which absorbs audio and climate controls, does so without the complications so often found in such endeavors. Certain lower controls can be obstructed by the steering wheel, but tilt and telescoping alleviate most issues.
Space is impressive up front, with only taller drivers wanting for headroom, but the rear is excessively tight, exacerbated by the sloping roofline. Legroom is tight in the back, with the front seats sliding back to almost completely take up available space. A curiously angular footwell design leaves those who fit sitting askew. At least the seats are comfortable and supportive.
Several option packages are available, with a Premium Value Edition adding heated and ventilated front seats and wood interior accents to the FWD IS 350. A Luxury Plus Value Edition package will add the heated and ventilated front seats, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, memory system, wood interior accents, rain-sensing wipers, illuminated door sills, power rear sunshade, and steering-linked bi-xenon headlights to the FWD automatic and AWD trims, but this package is unavailable on FWD trims equipped with the manual transmission. A Sport Value Package adds heated and ventilated front seats, a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel with a memory system for the driver’s seat, mirrors, and steering wheel, alloy pedals, automatically tinting mirrors with back-up aid, rain-sensing wipers, steering-linked adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a sport suspension, and 18-inch alloys with sport tires.
Despite dual front, front-side, curtain-side and front-knee airbags, the IS 350 managed only a four-star rating in most of the NHTSA’s tests, excluding side impact involving the driver and rollover. Still, the IS 350’s four-wheel antilock disc brakes provide confident stopping power and good pedal feel, with standard brake assist and an anti-skid system. Daytime running lights provide additional assurance, as does a tire pressure monitor.
What Owners Think
Taking the major complaint of the IS 250 and turning it around solidly, the IS 350 provides ample power in all situations from a competent engine and transmission combination. Styling and construction receive excessive praise marred almost exclusively by the tight seating position created by the fastback profile. A long list of options and option packages allow plenty of customization, which has earned the 350 special accolades among owners.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.