Lexus introduced the IS 350 model in 2006, a major update to the IS line. For 2011, Lexus gives the car modest changes, primarily new cabin tech, LED parking lights, and an all-wheel-drive option.
The IS 350's styling still stands out, its tight grille and roofline extending back to the trunk, giving it a unique appearance. LED parking lights in the headlight casings are a new feature.
The IS 350 uses a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a unique fuel delivery system. It has direct injection for higher engine speeds, and port injection for low-speed driving. The former delivers power, and the latter reduces engine noise.
Sharing the bottom of Lexus' lineup with the ES model, the IS 350 is not a big car, but has some good sport attributes. Front seat space is comfortable, but the rear seat is a little tight.
When it launched the IS 350 and IS 250, Lexus only offered all-wheel drive on the IS 250, but now is extending it to the IS 350. This all-wheel-drive system defaults to 70 percent torque to the rear wheels, but can adjust to a 50/50 split as needed.
The IS 350 is stuck with a six-speed automatic transmission; there is no manual option. This automatic offers a Sport mode and manual gear selection, in conjunction with paddles on the wheel.
The IS 350 gets a very nice-sounding Mark Levinson audio system, which supports 7.1-channel recordings. We were impressed by the balanced frequency response and the detail of the sound.