2009 Lexus IS 350 Review
The entry-level Lexus can be hotted up with tricks from the F Performance toy box.
2009 Lexus IS 350 Review
Lexus IS, it’s always been their youngest printing car. The only that doesn’t necessarily
say, “I'm heading to the golf course.” Let's see if its credit extends to its performance and
Now, Lexus cannot be accused of having crappy tech but I'm kind of going to accuse of
them of having slightly stay overly good tech. This unit head hasn’t changed in, I want to
say two full model years not in any major way doesn’t mean it’s not great. Check out that
map quality. That’s one the first of the really high-resolution fine dot pitch displays we
ever saw and it remains solid. As you can see, touch screen, so it’s easy to get around and
hit things that are on the screen itself.
The system is DVD based however not hard drive based which means first of all, it
struggles a little bit once in a while to make quick changes or if you're jumping around
menus rapidly there’s a little bit of little lag there but very little, I must say.
Now, Lexus was one of the first companies to go with a big name, high-dollar audio
partnership, Mark Levinson in their case. As you can see, we’ve got a lot of good DSP
options on this guy. Your usual bass, treble, all of that plus, you’ve got front and rear
adjustments that are quite flexible. And, under the DSP button is where you really get
into the interesting stuff.
You’ve got surround sound which in this car is 7.1 out of 14 speakers, ten discreet
amplifier channels, 300 watts of power and has also an automatic sound leveler here to
keep the volume going as the noise in the car increases. That’s relatively ordinary stuff.
Our input sources, AM/FM, of course, no HD radio, XM radio is your SAT radio choice.
That’s a dealer installed option, by the way.
You also can do an iPod adapter. It’s a little unclear if you can do both XM and iPod. I've
seen it both ways so check before you buy one if you want to get both of those input
options. At the very least though, you always have an aux jack for any portable back here
on the console. And with the Levinson package, you're not just getting audio. You're also
getting as you can see, video.
This is a DVD-CD changer. By the way, if you don’t go for the Levinson package, you
also don’t get navigation. You also don’t get a back up camera. You lose a lot of nice
things including Bluetooth hands free. So, that’s a must do on this car if you're learning
about it here at CNET. The backup camera’s pretty basic. Good quality. I find it very
sharp and it deals with dark and light really well but doesn’t have any trajectory lines or
Now, the motor in the 350 is a three and a half liter V6 as you might have guessed and
there she is, dual overhead cam, quad cam, all the usual stuff variable valve timing intake
and exhaust. We’ve got 306 horsepower here, 277 foot pounds, good numbers, not
stunning, but eagerly delivered which goes a long way. You’ll deserve a 0-60 in 5.6 they
say, and 18/25 as your MPG, so livable. You also got a line of F accessories you can put
on this car to make it a little bit like a Lexus ISF, a little bit. Not the V8, of course. Here’s
a cold air intake.
Over there, you can also get a carbon fiber engine cover. Other F parts include these big
old flamethrower exhaust pipes, here which aren’t just tips. It’s a performance exhaust
system that makes a great sound. And you see the wheels here, these aren’t stock either.
These are optional 19-inch F-series wheels. You also see the F upgraded brakes behind
there. I believe these wheels are made by BDS. You can also get lowering springs as part
of the F toys. This is all dealer installed stuff.
The IS350’s three and a half liter V6 goes out to a six-speed automatic with paddles and a
shiftable gate. The engine is just great and smooth and willing but the gearbox brings
with it too much of the vagueness and shift delay that gave automatics a bad name in the
first place. There is a limited slip differential on this rear wheel drive car. On all four
corners, you’ll find brakes that are Brembo branded.
Our car rides a bit like a milk truck, thanks to firmed up F-series suspension parts and
those big wheels. It’s just that side of being compliant enough to be okay for everyday
city driving starts to annoy you. On the other hand when pushed, this one stays real flat
and inspires plenty of confidence. The exhaust note is really nice. Again, thanks to a
Lexus F cutback exhaust system. Frankly, it’s almost absurdly ballsy for a three and a
half liter V6 but it’s fun.
Okay, an IS350 is going to run you about $37,600.00 but if you want tech, you’ve got to
spend $51,000.00 for the Levinson audio, GPS Nav package including Bluetooth hands
free, 18-inch wheels, steerable front headlights, backup camera. You need that and all the
F toys are dealer installed. Go haggle.
2009 Lexus IS 350 Review
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