2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport


I saw a comment in a magazine that the IS 350 F Sport needs a better engine. Really? Here's some performance specs from that same magazine - 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.2 seconds at 100 mph, and a claimed top speed of 143 mph. Not too shabby in my book.

Yes there is a V8 version, the IS 500, and it is quicker. It is also more expensive, heavier, and thirstier. I'd stick with the V6 unless bragging rights are your thing.

The 2022s are out, at least on paper, so why review a 2021? Because it's what is available. I suspect it has to do with the chip shortage. Essentially the '22 is the same as the '21; there are new packages and options but the basic IS is the same. And that's a good thing.

The IS, any IS, is a 4-door sedan. It is the smallest Lexus available but I wouldn't consider it a small or compact car. It is 185.4" long (a tad under 15.5'). It will seat 5, two up front and three in the back. Leg room in the back is not limo-esque but it is okay. Four people will be more comfortable than five in my opinion.

The IS 350 is available in RWD or AWD. The engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 311 hp at 6,600 rpm, and such sweet sounds from about 3,000 up. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic with RWD, and a 6-speed with AWD; the test IS 350 was RWD. There is no manual transmission available. Personally I no longer see the need for shifting on my own; today's automatics are so good, and they usually have a manual mode, that manual transmissions really offer no advantage. 

Suspension is independent all around; brakes 4-wheel disc. Wheels on the test F Sport are 19" with 235/40R19 on front, and 265/35R19 in the rear. Yes the tires are aggressive and a bit harsh due to the short sidewalls but this is a sport sedan.

As befitting a Lexus there is no scrimping on the luxury quotient. The front seats, although nicely bolstered for spirited driving were also comfortable. They were heated and cooled. 

If I had a criticism of the interior it is the touch pad between the seats. I hate it, I have trouble using it. Trying to enter an address for the route guidance was torture - either I couldn't get the cursor to move or it moved too much. I cannot be the only person on this earth with this problem!

The demon touch pad.

I didn't try the voice control and maybe I should have. Next time.

Looking at the picture with the shift lever you see a round knob - that selects the drive mode - Eco, Normal, and Sport. I preferred Sport around town as it made the IS 350 more responsive. If I was doing highway driving Eco would be my choice.

The IS 350 is not super economical but it's okay. It is rated at 28-mpg on the highway, and 20-mpg around town, for a combination of 23-mpg.

The price of vehicles today is what it is. People are still buying new cars so I guess the expense is not much of a deterrent. The price of a 2022 IS 350 Sport starts at $43,050. The 2021 model reviewed had some extras including an F Sport Dynamic Handling Package that added $4,200; according to the Lexus web site the price has not changed.

The IS 350 F Sport can be a fun car to drive and a comfortable long distance tourer. If you don't want the sportiness of the F Sport you could opt for the IS 300, same body different, more economical engine.

There are a lot of sport sedans for you to choose from. I personally don't think there is a bad one in the bunch but Lexus is known for its reliability, longevity, and retaining value. Now if they'd just get rid of that touch pad.


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