2020 Lexus IS 350 Reviews

2020 IS 350 New Car Test Drive

Introduction

Serving for two decades as the smallest Lexus sedan, the compact 2020 Lexus IS continues as the brand's entry-level model. The IS is less compelling compared to the competition compared to its early years, yet the current model promises decent value strong available V-6 engines as an alternative to the turbo-4. 

Last redesigned as a 2017 model, the IS 300 and IS 350 largely carry over into the 2020 model year, except for addition of a limited-production F Sport Blackline Special Edition. Only 900 will be produced, available with any IS model. Black trim replaces some of the customary chrome, including a blacked-out grille and wheels, complemented by black synthetic leather inside. 

Both IS 300 and IS 350 configurations are available, with each available with an F Sport variant. Among other features, the F Sport versions substitute adaptive dampers that help smooth the ride on choppy pavement, while restricting body lean in corners. 

Model nomenclature is a bit confusing. The base IS 300 sedan makes use of a 2.0-liter turbo-4, engine yielding 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. With all-wheel drive selected, the IS 300 substitutes in a 3.5-liter V-6 with 260 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque paired with a 6-speed automatic. 

For additional vigor when accelerating, the IS 350 adopts a more powerful 3.5-liter V-6 that delivers 311 hp and 280 lb-ft. The all-wheel-drive version uses a 6-speed automatic, but the rear-drive IS 350 gets an 8-speed transmission. 

A console knob selects Comfort, Sport, and Eco modes. Each F Sport version adds a sharper Sport+ mode. A limited-slip differential is available, for even sharper roadholding. 

Considering their modest power outputs, no IS engine is particularly thrifty, falling well short of rivals. The IS 300 with the turbo-4 is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 30 highway, and 24 combined. It gets 18/24/21 mpg with AWD and the V-6. Producing greater power, the IS 350 is rated at 20/28/23 mpg with RWD, or 19/26/21 mpg with AWD. Every Lexus IS uses premium gasoline. 

Mostly good crash test ratings and a welcome array of collision-avoidance technology combine to make the IS a reasonably strong safety choice. 

The NHTSA gave the IS a five-star overall safety rating, while it earned the top score of 'Good'? in each IIHS crash test. However, it hasn't yet been put through the challenging passenger-side small-overlap test. Headlights were judged “Acceptable,” while frontal crash prevention was rated “Superior.”

A number of active safety features that are optional on some rivals come standard on the IS, including automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert are optional. 

Lineup

The Lexus IS is available in two trims: IS 300 and IS 350. Prices include a $1,025 destination charge. 

The base IS 300 starts at $39,585 and comes with the 2.0-liter turbo-4. Standard features include synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, a 10-speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, a moonroof, LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, and the active safety features. The IS 300 ($42,035) substitutes a 260-hp V-6 for the turbo-4 and brings all-wheel drive. 

For a sportier ride, the $42,780 IS 300 F Sport includes tighter suspension tuning, performance-inspired instruments, five-spoke 18-inch wheels, distinctive exterior accents, special seat bolstering, and dark grey interior trim. 

The IS 350 is priced from $43,205 and gets the 311-hp version of the V-6. Outside of 18-inch wheels, it's equipped identically to the IS 300. The $46,400 IS 350 F Sport is also equipped similar to IS 300 F Sport, but with the 311-hp engine. 

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