Photography and video by: ©2016 Toni Avery

There’s something to be said about a car that doesn’t sacrifice looks or performance for a lower price tag. After driving the 2015 RC-F last year, I knew it would be an interesting step to go back to another Lexus product with less power, but this IS 350 is surprisingly fun at practically half the cost.

This Lexus is powered by a 3.5 L V6 producing 306 HP and 277 lb-ft of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with stopping power provided by Brembo.

The 3.5 L provided adequate power for driving around town and performed better than expected when tested on my canyon route. For this, I used Sport and Sport + driving modes, which gave the IS a more engaging throttle response, improved torque delivery and an even better sound from the motor.

While gas mileage was anything but conservative, I kept the IS in Normal and Sport modes around town and Eco mode on the highway. If I had stayed in Eco mode the entire time, I most likely would have achieved higher MPG numbers, but I just had too much fun in both Sport modes.

On the outside, this IS features the optional Blind Sport Monitor w/ Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and heated Outside Rearview Mirror ($600), optional F SPORT package ($3,155) and optional Premium Paint in Ultrasonic Blue Mica ($595).

The F SPORT package really adds an aggressive look with the spindle grille and special front bumper, LED headlamps and 18” grey SPORT wheels.

Inside the IS is a two-tone black and light tan cabin with the optional Navigation System / Mark Levinson Audio System ($2,645), optional F SPORT Perforated Leather Heated Steering Wheel with Paddle Shifters ($150) and the optional F SPORT package (mentioned above).

The F SPORT package includes the TFT instrument cluster, Heated and Ventilated front F SPORT seats, Perforated shift knob, Black Headliner, Aluminum Pedals, and Back-up Monitor. The optional Illuminated door sills also provided a glow at night, helping to light the way into the car.

I was impressed with the sound quality of the sound system and the navigations traffic avoidance feature. Even after two and one-half hours in horrible LA traffic, the interior space stayed quiet, the seats remained comfortable and the heated wheel and front seats added to the overall comfort of the interior.

I enjoyed my week in the IS and all its comfort and conveniences. With nearly $9,000 worth of options, I’d take the two most essential for me, the F SPORT package and Navigation / Mark Levinson package, and leave the rest. The IS 350 F SPORT is an overall great car for the money.

2016 Lexus IS 350 F SPORT

Base Price: $40,870


Blind Sport Monitor w/ Rear Cross-Traffic Alert & Heated outside Rear Mirror,

F SPORT Package, Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio System, Premium Paint,

Variable Gear Ratio Power Steering, F SPORT Perforated Leather Heated Steering Wheel

w/ Paddles, Caro Net, Illuminated Door Sills, Trunk Mat

Price with Options: $49,010

Destination Charge: $940

Total Price: $49,950.00

Fuel Economy: 19 City, 28 Highway, 22 Combined 

 GirlsDriveFastToo gives the 2016 Lexus IS 350 F SPORT an overall rating of (out of 5 total):