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2010 Lexus IS350 Sport Review & Test Drive

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‘NEW TECH MORE PERFORMANCE’

For 2010 Lexus packs more high-tech telematics and performance into its compact IS350 luxury sport sedan.  The very well equipped Lexus IS350 sedan receives updates that build on the brand’s legacy of delivering state-of-the-art technology.  To further enhance your driving experience, iPod/USB connectivity, streaming audio via Bluetooth and an integrated satellite radio receiver are added t the standard Lexus premium sound system.  The optional Lexus Navigation system has been updated with Voice Command casual-language voice recognition and Bluetooth phonebook download capability.  The navigation system also features an integrated XM NavTraffic, XMWeather and XM Sports/Stocks receiver and comes with a complementary 90-day trail subscription.  Finally, two all-new telematics products are available with a complementary one-year subscription, Safety Connect is standard on non-navigation equipped models, and Lexus Enform, which automatically comes with Safety Connect, is only available with navigation-equipped models.  These new features bring the 2010 IS350 up-to-date with the latest in high-tech goodies for convenience and safety.

Giving you more adrenaline pumping pleasure is the Sport Package with includes more aggressive 18X8in. split 5-spoke light alloy wheels wrapped with sticky 225/40R18in. Bridgestone Turanza very-low profile tires, aluminum scuff plates, driver/front passenger seat memory, heated/vented front seats, HID Adaptive front lamps, perforated leather front bucket seats, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and a sport-tuned suspension to increase cornering capability.

Power comes on quickly and smoothly thanks to a 3.5 liter DOHC, Direct-Injected V6 engine that pumps out 306hp at 6,400rpm and 277lb.ft. of torque at 4,800rpm.  Mated to the advanced slick shifting six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting and paddle shifters on the steering column, the IS350 Sport can dash out to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.3sec.  When you put the pedal to the metal, the low-backpressure dual exhaust system puts out a loud growl that can be heard and enjoyed by enthusiasts.

Keeping the IS350 Sport firmly planted on the pavement is a sophisticated four-wheel independent that is tuned for straight-line triple-digit speed and high-speed cornering.

Up front is a double-wishbone setup with high-mount upper control arms and a lower control arm that uses a large, liquid-filled bushing at the rear to minimize vibration and harshness.  High-rate coil springs, and the stabilizer bar keep the car balanced in the turns, while unique monotube gas-filled shocks were designed utilizing multi-leaf linear control valves to optimize damping force, plus internal rebound springs for firmer body control and response without degrading ride comfort.  I am amazed how firm the cornering is and how these shocks still took the jarring out when driving over poorly paved roads.  The IS350 Sport has 3-driving modes-Snow, Comfort and Sport that changes the dynamics of the engine management system, and steering response.

Speaking of steering response, the Lexus electric power-assisted rack & pinion steering system is a perfect match in that the response was very quick, responsive with excellent straight-line stability.  The weight was perfect in my hands and the feel for the road is excellent.  I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t hydraulic but the new system eliminates parasitic loss from a hydraulic pump and reduces weight and complexity.

The new IS350 Sport goes easily where I want it to go and the safety systems kept me out of trouble.  Combining input from a variety of sensors, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) is designed to anticipate the onset of a vehicle skid or slide and help correct the situation with a combination of braking and throttle control.  VDIM integration provides precise management for electric power steering, vehicle stability control, the ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and engine torque via the electronic throttle control.  You can disengage VSC via the TRAC OFF switch when you want the car to burn some rubber at launch or slide out of steep curves and quicken your heartbeat.  It’s the only way for fun and safety.

Quickly slowing the IS350 Sport down from speed are big, powerful power-assisted 4-wheel vented disc brakes.  Up front are 13.15in. disc clamped with four-piston aluminum calipers while the rear vented discs measure 12.2in. and are clamped with dual-piston aluminum calipers.  As mentioned above, standard ABS, EBD and BA enhance braking power and control.

The IS350 Sport design is wide, long and low with the body tightly drawn over the unitized steel frame establishing an athletic, road-hungry yet sophisticated style.  A low front end, flared fenders, a subtle ducktail-curved trunk lid spoiler, air kick tail lamps, dual exhaust tips and a lower diffuser contribute to a very low 0.28 coefficient of drag reducing drag and interior wind noise.  Nothing else on the road looks like the IS350.

The sound of the powerful V6 engine will resonate with driving enthusiasts, yet all vehicle occupants will appreciate Lexus’ ability to minimize undesirable noises.  A highly rigid body structure is the starting point for controlling noise intrusion.  Strategically placed noise-suppression materials, including special window and door seals, acoustic windshield glass and asphalt sheeting, take over from there.  Nothing has been overlooked, even the headliner is nicely tucked into the leading edge of the windshield and the sun-visors use sound-absorbing material.

The IS350 Sport’s luxurious cabin features intelligently designed displays and controls that are easy to see and use.  Bright, clear Optitron gauges and smartly integrated metallic and chrome trim help create an elegant yet sporty environment.  Premium interior materials and meticulous attention to detail convey the Lexus identity.  Lexus offers a refreshing approach to designing controls as compared to some competitors that are making controls more complex to learn and distracting to use, hurray!  I hate the big, knurled do-it-all switch found in the models from Europe, so distracting.

One example of the Lexus model is the multi-information display located within the speedometer.  This versatile feature integrates a trip computer that provides outside temperature, driving range, average fuel consumption, average fuel consumption since refueling, current fuel consumption, and average speed.  The display also includes an oil-maintainance reminder and system warnings, all grouped in one convenient location.  Additional features are added to the multi-information display depending on selected options.  When the IS350 is equipped with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, the display can show a car icon with the selected following distance.  When equipped with Intuitive Park Assist, the display can show a car icon with the location and distance of objects detected near the bumpers.

Standard amenities include comfortable, supportive leather-trimmed seats and interior with 10-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat vents, a pollen filter and smog filter, a power sunroof, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, all power windows with express up/down, power door locks, Smart Access keyless entry, push-button start-stop, Homelink programmable garage door opener that also operates your home securing devices and other systems, cruise control, center console armrest with dual cupholders, leather/chrome stick shifter, chrome shift gate, deep glovebox, inside self-dimming mirror with compass, power remote sideview mirrors, fold-out front door pockets, illuminated trunk lid and fuel filler door controls, trunk pass-through, carpeted floor mats, grab handles above each door, dual map lights, full-down rear armrest with dual-cupholders, sunglass case in the overhead console and Lexus’ Premium Audio System that features a six-disc in-dash CD changer, 194-watts of total power, 13-speakers, iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth hands free phone and music streaming, and an integrated satellite radio receiver.  Automatic sound levelizer maintains consistent sound levels at varying speeds.

New telematics include Lexus Enform and Safety Connect response center that operates 24-hours per day, seven-days per week-every day of the year.  It includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assistance button (SOS) and enhanced roadside assistance.  Lexus Enform, available only on navigation-equipped models, includes all of the Safety Connect features and builds upon them with the premium services of Destination Assist, and eDestination.  Destination Assist agents are available via the on-board cellular equipment and can help you find a specific address, a business by name, or a type of business.  eDistination lets you go online via LexusDrivers.com to save and sort destinations up to 20-folders, each holding as many as 10-destinations.  Online, you can create personalized location names and even list notes about saved locations.

Standard hard safety systems include advanced front airbags (twin-chamber for front passenger) driver and front passenger seat mounted side impact airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, 3-point safety belts for all five seating positions, load limiters and pretensioners up front, child restraint seat tether anchors, front/rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door and a tire pressure monitoring system.

While the IS350 Sport is a compact size vehicle it is packed with performance, style, comfort, safety and luxury like all of the other Lexus vehicles.  If you are in the market for a compact luxury sport sedan, you have to test drive the new IS350 Sport.

COPYRIGHT:2010:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: Base $37,295 As-Tested $42,973
Type: Midsize Sedan
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Subcompact Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 180.3 in.
Width: 70.9 in.
Height: 56.1 in.
Wheel Base: 107.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.7 in.
Curb Weight: 3527 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4500 lbs.

Interior
Front Head Room: 37.2 in.
Front Hip Room: 54.1 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 54.4 in.
Rear Head Room: 36.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 52.7 in.
Rear Hip Room: 53.7 in.
Front Leg Room: 43.9 in.
Rear Leg Room: 30.6 in.
Luggage Capacity: 13 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 13 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Acceleration (0-60 mph): 5.2 sec.
Braking Distance (60-0 mph): 114 ft.
Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Size: 3.5 liters
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 306 hp
Max Horsepower: 6400 rpm
Torque: 277 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4800 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 33.5 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.1 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 18 mpg / 25 mpg / 20 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 307.8 mi. / 427.5 mi. / 342 mi.

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