2017 Lexus IS 350

Years ago, buyers of sports sedans usually turned to German brands, but now there are many more choices. Among them is the Lexus IS 350. Does it compare to other luxury sports cars?

I love the color: Atomic Silver. Other visual pops on the 2017 Lexus IS 350 include an all-new nose with a special grill if buyers choose the $3,100 F-Sport package.

F-Sport is a good value because special wheels are included and lots of interior upgrades like an upgraded steering wheel and instrument cluster. It also means sport bucket seats, but some people may find them too snug for long trips.

Our rear-wheel drive review car gets an 8-speed automatic. All-wheel-drive versions make do with a six-speed auto. No manual is available.

Navigation bundled with premium audio is a $2,800 option and the display now exceeds 10 inches. Still there is the imprecise mouse-like control that’s distracting to use while driving. The IS is one of few cars that truly transform when you dial up sport mode. Electronic driving aids like lane departure and radar cruise control are now standard.

Row two is tight with tall people up front. Overall, the IS is not a roomy car in any dimension. Trunk space is comparable to other cars in the class, but when you fold the seat backs, a ledge is created by the seat.

The 3.5 liter V6 with 308 horsepower provides good punch. Other IS models get a less powerful V6 or a turbo-4.

Final take: the IS 350 really is a nice compromise between sports sedan and luxury car. It really gives you a little bit of both.

So, for the 2017 Lexus IS 350, I say thumbs up to quality fit and finish, good power, and good handling; thumbs down to the tight back seat and awkward navigation controller.

I averaged about 22 mpg. The as-tested sticker is $49,579.

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