In the middle of its third generation, the Lexus IS350 sees a few touch ups to the 2017 offering.
As it’s the best-selling offering, the changes are minor, including a redesigned front fascia, a new front bumper and an even more aggressive spindle grille, which I really, really like.
Upgraded front LED lights and tail lights round out the major changes, which struck me as all for the better.
The most powerful IS in the lineup, power is generated through a 3.5 litre, V6 motor that kicks out 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque through an All-Wheel Drive system that’s only available in automatic through a six-speed transmission. Selfishly, I’d scream to give me a manual gearbox but practically, it’s not even close to being worth the cost for Lexus to do so given the miniscule consumer preference rate for DIY gears.
After toting around the GTA for a week, I spent the most time in Normal mode because that’s what felt the most comfortable for daily commuting. There is an Eco mode as well as Sport and Sport+ for both sides of the spectrum. I found the Sport(+) to add some life into the IS350 but through the urban world, there’s really not much road space to truly enjoy it. If you’re a cottager or know some cool routes through north Milton/Burlington/Hamilton, that’s a different story as there are great roads to open up the Innovative Sedan’s character.
12.6 and 9.2 are the city/highway fuel figures for L/100 km, which is good for such a powerful car. As usual, drive modes and style will see those figures fluctuate, along with who/what’s in the car with you.
If Lexus offered this up for a long-term (say 6 month) test drive, I’d happily say yes as the drive quality is high here and there’s plenty of built-in sportiness behind the wheel and the drive is quite smooth on 18” wheels.
Once you’re inside, the IS350 is luxurious but not in the “pay attention to me!” type. There’s pleasant stitching accents, a modern layout of the dashboard and a massive 10.3” display screen that’s stacked above the HVAC/audio controls. Thank goodness Lexus still includes a few buttons and dials to operate the centre stack, although the industry is slowly trending towards having everything being touch-screen based. All controls are easy to find and operate, without having to dig through sub-menus to do something as simple as heating your seat…well done, Lexus.
My gripe is with the Lexus Remote Touch interface because I found it takes too much attention to select what you want without hitting a few wrong selections. After day 4 of 7 of my test week, I got better and operating the system but still wasn’t perfect at it. I’m sure with constant repetition, I (or whoever buys the IS350) will be proficient at it.
The leather seats earn high marks for comfort, the steering wheel is comfortable to hold and I’m oh-so thankful the start/stop button is positioned high on the dashboard, which reduces any accidental touches.
Safety-wise, Toyota/Lexus are changing the industry by offering the Lexus Safety System +, giving you a pre-collision system, auto high beams, radar cruise control and lane departure alert. Other standards on the IS350 are blind spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alerts and a ton of airbags.
Opt for the $1,300 F-Sport Series 3 option and you’ll pick up a heated steering wheel, adaptive variable suspension, heated/cooled seats, a 15 speaker Mark Levinson audio system and a few other goodies.
Ringing the register at $53,350 (clever on the pricing, Lexus) you’re getting plenty of power, value and luxury for this price point and there’s really nothing out there that looks as good as it. The ostentatious factor is relatively low while the sleek and aggressive design lines are high.
Even though sedan sales aren’t what they used to be thanks to the SUV/CUV/Crossover movement, Lexus is still churning out beautiful options for those who don’t care for a hatchback/lift gate.
Sales were down slightly for 2016 and with these minor changes, perhaps they’ll see a slight increase before the fourth generation IS series is launched in the coming years.
Enjoy the full gallery below: