Sedans may be disappearing at an alarming rate. Replaced by the demand for valuable cargo and rear seat space a good crossover can deliver with ease. The IS 350 stands as a welcome exception, continuing a successful run that first started with its debut in 2014. For 2021, our IS sedan gets a second mid-cycle refresh. In a bold effort to stay as stylish as the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Genesis G70 and Cadillac CT4-V. The new IS 350 really put those talented designers at Lexus to work. The result is one bold, beautiful sedan.
The profile feels extra sleek and smooth. The headlight is one unit now, with the previously separated swooping bar of light underneath, now integrated into the main assembly. Triple beam LED’s that live up to Lexus’s reputation for creating industry-leading headlights. The grille and flanking vents have been enlarged even more, with plenty of blacked out trim in the the F Sport package. Against the Iridium color paint, the 19” BBS wheels in a dark matte finish are set to stun, looking aftermarket in all the best ways. Speaking of F Sport additions that seem too sporty to be factory included; a beautiful, carbon-fiber rear spoiler sits above the redesigned taillights, now connected with a ribbon of red that stretches between the two. It serves as the perfect finish to the visually reimagined IS.
It is abundantly clear from raw curb appeal, to the way the IS 350 feels in action, that this sedan was built to perform. Assisting in its efforts is an F Sport tuned suspension, delivering tight turn-in and a sharp agility that will keep you confident around tight corners. The 3.5L V6 is naturally aspirated, with an 8-speed automatic transmission directing 311 hp to the rear wheels. Sport S/S+ modes will tighten up the variable suspension, and a Torsen limited slip rear differential will keep the tail in line. Acceleration is lively, but at higher rpm’s, the engine takes on a tone that may remind some of a half-chocked vacuum cleaner. Overall, the V6 is good, but in an age where performance sedans are usually blessed with a turbocharger, it’s starting to feel in need of some boost.
Beyond boring leather, the interior is uniquely enhanced with black geometric door panels, ash heated wood trim and an F Sport sliding center gauge. Pivoting from perfectly centered to shifting right, revealing different digital displays underneath. Seating position and comfort will impress up front, but slide them all the way back, and rear occupants might have to sit cross-legged.
The continued run of the popular Lexus IS 350 is a welcome development. With its mid-cycle updates, its never looked or felt better. Against the competition though, the 3.5L V6 could use the same upgrade love to match the aggressive new visuals. Here’s hoping it sticks around long enough for us to see it.
Price as tested: $55,190.00