The Lexus IS 350 hasn’t had a major overhaul since its introduction in 2014, but the car is still relevant in the small luxury sedan segment. For 2017, it gets a few exterior and interior tweaks before its major makeover in two years. It still has a very comfortable cabin, superior ride quality, and all-weather capability.
This week, we drove the 2017 Lexus IS 350 V6. It had full-time all-wheel drive, the F Sport package, and other luxury items that made it extra comfy.
What’s New For 2017
The front end gets revised styling consisting of a new grille, headlights (LEDs), and air intakes, while the back of the sedan gets upgraded with different taillights and exhaust tips. The IS 350 comes with additional standard safety features, including forward collision warning and mitigation. A few minor cabin tweaks finish up the changes.
The 2017 Lexus IS 350 AWD ($43,535) comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission, two gears less than other models. Other standard equipment includes keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, premium vinyl upholstery, a 10-speaker stereo system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
Our tester came with the optional Navigation/Mark Levinson premium audio package ($2,835) with 5.1 surround; 835 Watts and 15 speakers. An F Sport package ($2,715) included unique exterior and cabin trim, 18-inch F Sport 5-spoke wheels wrapped in all-season tires, heated and ventilated seats with unique trim, adaptive variable suspension, and a backup camera. It also came with a blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert ($600) and a heated outside review mirror.
Total MSRP including destination: $51,515.
The 2017 Lexus IS 350 has the upscale cabin you would expect from the luxury division of Toyota. The quality of materials and fit and finish is right up to snuff with the best luxury sedans in the world. Its design is a strength in this segment, and it’s much less business-like than the European competition. The cabin has the visual effect of making you think you’re in a car costing two times the price.
The cabin is on the smallish side, so it can feel a bit cramped for larger adults. The IS 350 will technically seat five adults, but having three in the back will need to be for short trips. The F Sport seats are comfortable for commuting, but could use more bolstering for longer trips. The 7.0-inch infotainment screen contains the Lexus app suite, called Enform, but Lexus uses the mouse type controller for navigating the infotainment screen. It’s still not a favorite of ours.
The trunk is 13.8 cubic feet, more than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class but less than the top-selling BMW 3-Series.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2017 Lexus IS 350 AWD is powered by a smooth, 3.5-liter direct and port injected V6 engine, making 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission (two gears less than the turbo model) and steering wheel paddle shifters for driving enthusiasts.
EPA fuel mileage estimates are 19/26 mpg city/highway, and 21 combined.
The 3.5-liter V6 is ultra smooth and with its 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque, it’s respectably powerful. We took it up I-70 into the higher elevations west of Denver and it had enough power to have some fun. We used the steering wheel paddle shifters to manually row the 6-speed automatic, and it bumps up the fun-to-drive meter considerably.
The IS 350 with the F Sport package also improves the driving dynamics, and we had an enjoyable time throwing this luxury sedan around a mountain curve or two. The F Sport package brings an adjustable suspension and a sharper throttle and transmission when you put it in Sport+ mode. It unlocks the car’s potential, and makes the 6-speed automatic shift quicker. With its full-time AWD, the IS 350 is all-weather capable, making it a year-round commuter too. We would consider the IS 350 a capable sports sedan, but it’s not a true performance sedan like its German counterparts.
The 2017 Lexus IS 350 has a lot going for it with its upscale cabin, standard safety features, and smooth V6 engine. The IS 350 delivers a quiet, comfortable, and luxurious sedan experience. Though AWD models give up two gears in the transmission to their rear-wheel drive counterparts, it does broaden the sedan’s appeal for those who live where things often get slick.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy