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Style and Substance Meet the Rigors of the Road: A Look at the 2013 Lexus IS 350
The burgeoning “entry luxury” class of automobiles has seen many changes since its inception, with shoppers struggling to understand exactly what constitutes a true “entry level luxury car.” Is it the amount of space available in the cabin as compared to other more “full size” models? Is it the inclusion of a “sport” theme unlike within the larger flagship sedans? Is it that ever-moving price target that teases with an affordable bottom line?
Lexus has been redefining this segment with its IS sedan essentially since the launch of the model in its first generation iteration. For 2013, the more range-topping IS 350 receives a navigation system that now includes HD radio – with iTunes tagging – along with a Smartphone apps suite. The IS lineup consists of theIS 250, IS 350 and track-oriented IS F, the 350 model benefitting from a 306-horsepower V6 without the wallop the hardcore IS F provides; still, the IS 350 is available with a F Sport Package which is said to “sharpen the handling and styling” as well as an all-wheel-drive option for owners in inclement environments.
The 2013 Lexus IS 350 is classified as a “small luxury sedan” available in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive trim levels and comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, xenon headlamps, LED running lights, heated mirrors, sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats, leather upholstery, auto-dimming rearview mirror,Safety Connect telematics system, Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity and a 13-speaker sound system with six-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and iPod/USB interface. Upgrading to the IS 350 AWD(all-wheel-drive) nets heated front seats.
The car’s aforementioned Navigation System Package adds a nav system, Bluetooth phonebook downloading, a rearview camera, voice commands, HD radio with iTunes tagging, real-time traffic/weather/sports/fuel prices and Lexus Enform enhanced telematics with a Smartphone apps suite. Further, a 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system can be added to the Navigation System pack.
What allows Lexus’ IS 350 to stand apart from its competitors are a host of premium upgrades not available on many similarly-marketed vehicles. Take, for example, the Premium Plus Package which adds heated and ventilated front seats and wood trim and the Luxury Package that adds 18-inch wheels (on RWD models), auto-dimming outside mirrors, automatic wipers, a power rear sunshade, driver and front passenger memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel – in addition to the Premium Plus Packageitems on RWD models. Front and rear parking sensors are optional.
Perhaps most exciting about the 2013 IS 350 is the availability of its F Sport Package on RWD models which adds dark-finish 18-inch F Sport wheels, grille inserts, front and rear spoilers, a sport-tuned suspension and heated F Sport seats with microfiber inserts and leather bolsters.
In the area of safety, standard features on the IS 350 include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a Safety Connect system – a traditional telematics service with automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle locator and an emergency assistance button. As tested by outlets such as Edmunds, the 2013 Lexus IS 350 as equipped with the F Sport Package came to a stop from 60 miles-per-hour in 114 feet while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the vehicle a perfect “Good” rating for its performance in both frontal –offset and side-impact tests.
We were provided with a 2013 Lexus IS 350 to drive for one week.