2017 Lexus 350 F Sport RWD Review

2017 Lexus 350 F Sport RWD - The 2017 Lexus IS 350 F Sport is always on your side.


Price: $44,525

You can have plenty of comfortable fun with the 2017 Lexus IS 350, especially with the optional F Sport package.

This Lexus compares favorably with Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz compact sport luxury sedans. It's fast, posh, quick-witted and comes with rear- or all-wheel drive (AWD).

I tested the rear-drive $41,370 IS 350 with the $3,155 F Sport package, which raised the price but added to the four-door sedan's enduring fun. That package contains items including electronic power steering with good road feel, adaptive variable suspension, 18-inch split 5-spoke alloy wheels, heated and ventilated perforated leather front sport seats, aluminum pedals, back-up monitor, silver performance trim, Mark Levinson audio system, navigation system, F Sport steering wheel with responsive paddle shifters and body side moldings.

A driver can chose various drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow). The Sport setting offers the best throttle response and handling. It provides a a slightly firmer ride that's not uncomfortable, sharper handling and firmer steering feel. Still, the car is plenty quick and responsive in its normal drive settings, and I don't recommend Sport mode for highway  cruising.

There's decent  room for four tall adults in the 110.2-inch-wheelbase car, although the large front console eats space, and the stiff, high center of the rear seat is best left to the fold-down center armrest that contains pull-out cupholders that should feel sturdier. Also, a long-legged person behind a tall driver will want more leg room.  

The ride is firm but supple. The steering is fast, and the anti-lock brakes stop the car quickly and evenly. Brake pedal action feels just right. You can move quickly and safely with this car on winding roads.  

The styling is rakish. On the F Sport, the grille has an exclusive three-dimensional F-mesh pattern, with jet-black metallic coating also used on the functional brake ducts. There's also a more sculptural hood. Some feel the Lexus grille is overdone, but the head of Toyota/Lexus likes it so that is that. (Many grilles on fabulous 1950s Ferraris are almost as large.) Different taillights and new rectangular chrome exhaust tips help complete the car's sporty look. So do discreet "F Sport" badges placed inside and out.

The IS 350 has a strong 3.5-liter V-6 with 306 horsepower at 6,400  r.p.m. and 277 pound/feet of torque at 4,800 r.p.m. for quick response at lower in-town speeds. The engine works with an 8-speed automatic transmission with rear-drive and a 6-speed automatic with all-wheel drive. Figure on 0-60 m.p.h. in 6 seconds with the rear-drive version, although the slightly heavier AWD version is almost as fast, according to Lexus specifications.  

Estimated fuel economy is so-so at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on highways with rear-drive and 19 and 26 with AWD. Gasoline with a 91-octane rating is called for, and the fuel tank holds 17.4 gallons.

The standard IS 350 has a quiet, stylish interior with a classy analog dashboard clock and items including a power tilt/slide moonroof, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, power front seats, heated front seats for the AWD version-the usual upscale stuff.

My test IS 350 F Sport's large tachometer surrounded by an analog speedometer let me easily keep tabs on things. The rather snug interior also had a 10.25-inch LCD screen and small, clearly marked dashboard climate controls. Getting information from the dashboard screen took practice at first. The fast-paced "fasten seatbelt" chime was annoying, and the front console cupholders were set a little too far back.

Safety features included a bunch of air bags and a vehicle dynamics integrated management system that integrates anti-lock brakes, electronic force distribution, traction control, vehicle stability control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and high-speed dynamic radar cruise control. Standard in the F Sport package are a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert system and variable gear ratio steering.

The roomy trunk has a low, wide opening and 60/40 split rear seat backs sit flat when folded forward to enlarge the cargo area.

The IS 350 Sport felt solid, thanks partly to advanced construction techniques including laser screw welding and adhesive body bonding that help provide enhanced overall body rigidity. Rear subframe and cowl side braces help enhance handling control and steering response.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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