A facelifted Lexus IS was introduced last year, including updated versions of both the sedan and folding hard-top convertible, so for 2012 the updates have been kept to a minimum.
You can still order the car in several different trims, including the base IS 250, mid-level IS 350, and high-performance IS F.
Lexus is also offering once again an F-Sport package for its IS models, which essentially adds some sportier wheels and aero pieces inspired by the units on the IS F.
While many of its rivals are turning to downsized four-cylinder engines with turbocharging, Lexus is soldiering on with a pair of V-6 engines for its regular IS models and a big V-8 for the IS F.
The IS 350 sports a silky smooth 3.5-liter V-6, which is rated at 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission option available, and combined with the 3.5-liter V-6 will accelerate the IS 350 to 60 mph from rest in a brief 5.6 seconds.
The engine, while smooth, can feel a little underpowered compared to rivals, though it returns some respectable fuel economy numbers. EPA figures for the rear-wheel-drive IS 350 are 19/27 mpg city/highway, while the all-wheel-drive model nets 18/26 mpg city/highway. Given the similarity between the two, we’d suggest opting for the added safety of all-wheel-drive, especially if you live in some of the Northern states.
While its styling hasn’t changed much since launch more than six years ago, the IS 350 is still one of the best looking sedans in its segment. Some minor updates added last year include new exhaust tips, HID headlamps with LED running lamps , and a new 17-inch wheel design.
Out on the road, the IS 350 feels quite agile but never quite on the same high dynamic ground as the BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G37. Note, the rear-wheel drive model has a slightly better steering feel than the all-wheel-drive one.
Inside, there’s plenty of luxury, with leather on most surfaces, premium feeling materials, and a long list of standard features. Luxury goodies include a 13-speaker sound system and Bluetooth, iPod and USB connectivity. An even better 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system is well worth the upgrade, as is a touch-screen navigation system and Lexus Enform telematics feature.
For more on the 2012 Lexus IS 350, including a close look at its styling, performance, quality, and safety, head over to our sister site The Car Connection
for the full review.