Just because consumers happen to enjoy driving does not mean they want a massive car taking up too much space. Yet, compact sedans with high handling and drivability are still maneuvering into the overall car buying consciousness.
Not that long ago, the entire entry-level sport sedan car class was almost totally dominated by BMW. It recently became a very popular idea to possess a car that has the ability to drive with the best sporty selections while still having the overall body size to fit into a compact car parking spot. The increase in demand for entry-level sport sedans made others want to get into the action, including Lexus. The company created the Lexus IS-series to meet its competition head-on. The IS 250 and its sibling, the IS 350, are designed to be sharply focused sport sedans.
The 2009 IS 350 has multiple features, which sport sedan shopper's desire. A very striking exterior appearance, an always luxurious Lexus-based interior design, and even a comfortable and silent ride all combine to make the IS 350 something to at least try. Despite these amazing characteristics though, the IS 350 is a let-down in terms of the features that sport car enthusiasts prefer. The brake pedal has a very soft feel and does not inspire confidence in most drivers. The 2009 Lexus IS 350 was clearly trying to hit a demographic that desires a sport sedan with a compliant ride and luxury interior rather than raw sport-based features. It is able to hit its target perfectly. On the other hand, hardcore sport car enthusiasts will want to look elsewhere.
Body Style: entry-level sport sedan
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: six-speed automatic
Models: Lexus IS 350
Like all Lexus cars, the tried and true composition of the Lexus IS 350 hardly ever needs to go through a massive overhaul. Since the original establishment of the sporty exterior, and the recent features of specialized tech-savvy traits, changes between yearly models are few and far between. The 2009 IS 350 receives several minor modifications. Styling changes for both the interior and exterior are minor, including the choice of a two-tone interior design. However, it does get a slightly more advanced stability control system and revised suspension tuning.
One of the most successful aspects of the 2009 IS 350 is the amazingly styled exterior body. Its sleek appearance is precisely what someone would expect from any high-class entry-level sport sedan. A slightly low front end slowly sweeps up along a very smooth and curve-happy body style, starting with the narrow but long-shaped headlights. It is a very aerodynamic and still luxuriously sporty look. Standard exterior features are quite impressive for this high-style base design, such as the inclusion of a sunroof. Optional exterior elements are adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a power rear sunshade, sport-biased tires, and even rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The interior of the 2009 IS 350 was perfectly styled to match the elegant feel of the exterior appearance. A top-notch layout is matched with the highest quality materials to create an overall luxurious feel to the cabin as is the case with all Lexus-manufactured vehicles. The IS 350 has high-tech additions like a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, adaptive cruise control, satellite radio, automatic dual-zone climate control, and Bluetooth connectivity. The only true downfall of the IS 350 interior is related to cabin space. All compact luxury sedans have issues with legroom in rear seating, and the 2009 IS 350 is no exception to this problem. Even though the car has the standard four doors to meet the sedan category, the interior space is more like that of a luxury coupe instead.
Performance & Handling
The 2009 Lexus IS 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6, which can generate 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options for this engine are limited to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Acceleration is very impressive for this powerful engine. It can make a zero to 60 mph sprint in just 5.6 seconds. However, the problem is that the automatic transmission does not match the feel of downshifts even though the gear changes are quick.
Safety elements that come standard with all 2009 IS 350 cars include anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags. An optional safety feature is the very effective pre-collision system that comes packaged with the adaptive cruise control selection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Lexus IS 350: 18/25 mpg city/highway
- Swift V-6 engine
- Comfortable ride
- High quality interior materials
You Won't Like
- No manual transmission
- Cramped backseat
A nice choice for style, luxury, and comfort.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Infiniti G35
- Audi A4
- BMW 3-Series