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Roadshow Video Reviews
2009 Lexus IS 350The entry-level Lexus can be hotted up with tricks from the F Performance toy box.
>> So Lexus IS. It's always been their youngest printing car. The only one that doesn't necessarily say I'm heading to the golf course. Let's see if its cred extends to its performance and technology. ^M00:00:12 [ Music ] ^M00:00:20 >> Now, Lexus cannot be accused of having crappy tech, but I'm kind of going to accuse them of having slightly stay overly good tech. This head unit hasn't changed in, I want to say two full model years. Not in any major way. Doesn't mean it's not great. Check out that map quality. That's on of the first of the really high-resolution fine dot pitch displays we ever saw, and it remains solid. As you can see, touchscreen so it's easy to get around and hit things that are on the screen itself. The system is DVD based, however. Not hard drive based which means, first of all, it struggles a little bit once in awhile to make quick changes, or if you're jumping around menus rapidly, there's a little bit of lag there, but very little I must say. Now, Lexus was one of the first companies to go with a big name, high dollar audio partnership. Mark Levenson in their case. As you can see, we've got a lot of good DSP options on this guy. Your usual bass treble, all of that. Plus you've got front and rear adjustments that are quite flexible. And under the DSP button is where you really get into the interesting stuff. You've got surround sound, which in this car is 7.1 out of 14 speakers, ten discrete amplifier channels, 300 watts of power, and there's also an automatic sound leveler here to keep the volume going as the noise in the car increases. That's relatively ordinary stuff. Our input sources, AM-FM, of course. No HD radio. XM Radio is your sat radio choice. That's a dealer-installed option, by the way. You also can do an iPod adapter. It's a little unclear if you can do both XM and iPod. I've seen it both ways so check before you buy one if you want to get both of those input options. At the very least, though, you always have an offjack for any portable back here on the console. And with the Levenson package, you're not just getting audio. You're also getting, as you can see, video. This is a DVD-CD changer. By the way, if you don't go for the Levenson package, you also don't get navigation. You also don't get a backup camera. You lose a lot of nice things including Bluetooth handsfree. So that's a must do on this car if you're learning about it here at CNET. The backup camera's pretty basic. Good quality. I find it very sharp, and it deals with dark and light really well, but doesn't have any trajectory lines or shaded zones. Now the motor in the 350 is a three and a half liter V6 as you might have guessed, and there she is. Dual overhead cam, quad cam, all the usual stuff, variable valve timing intake, and exhaust. We've got 306 horsepower here, 277 foot pounds. Good numbers, not stunning, but eagerly delivered which goes a long way. You'll do zero to 60 in 5.6 they say, and 18.25 is your mpg so liveable. You also got a line of F accessories you can put on this car to make it a little bit like a Lexus ISF. A little bit. Not the V8, of course. Here's a cold-air intake. Over there, you can also get a carbon fiber engine cover. Other F parts include these big old flamethrower exhaust pipes, here, which aren't just tips. It's a performance exhaust system that makes a great sound. And you see the wheels here, these aren't stock either. These are optional 19-inch F-series wheels. You also see the F upgraded brakes behind there. I believe these wheels are made by BDS. You can also get lowering springs as part of the F toys. This is all dealer-installed stuff. ^M00:03:15 [ Music ] ^M00:03:26 >> The IS350's three and a half liter V6 goes out to a six-speed automatic with paddles and a shiftable gate. The engine is just great and smooth and willing, but the gearbox brings with it too much of the vagueness and shift delay that gave automatics a bad name in the first place. There is a limited slip differential on this rear-wheel drive car. On all four corners, you'll find brakes that are brembo [phonetic] branded. Our car rides a bit like a milk truck thanks to firmed up F-series suspension parts and those big wheels. It's just that side of being compliant enough to be OK for everyday city driving. Starts to annoy you. On the other hand, when pushed, this one stays real flat and inspires plenty of confidence. The exhaust note is really nice. Again, thanks to a Lexus F catback exhaust system. Frankly, it's almost absurdly ballsy for a three and a half liter V6, but it's fun. ^M00:04:18 [engine revving] [ Music ] ^M00:04:23 >> OK. An IS350 is going to run you about $37,600. But if you want tech, you've got to spent $51,000 for the Levenson audio, GPS nav package including Bluetooth hands free, 18-inch wheels, steerable front headlights, backup camera. You need that. And all the F toys are dealer installed. Go haggle. [engine revving] ^M00:04:40