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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
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  #1  
Old 07-03-2006, 01:56 PM
RICKMS RICKMS is offline
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Lexus IS 350 Experience

While Iím waiting on BMW of America to announce future plans for the 330i/335 Sedan and my future car, Iíve been investigating other vehicles. Today, I had the pleasure of test driving a Lexus IS 350. It is a totally different vehicle then the 330i. From a pure electronic and comfort perspective the IS is amazing. The seats are a one size fits all (no choice of power, leathette or sports seating). They were very comfortable and supportive. It was hot here today (over 90) and the fan through the perforated leather really kept the seats cool. The leather felt much more subtle then the BMW. The navigation blows the idrive/nav unit away, much nicer screen, very intuitive, included parking assist camera. The FOB does everything the BMW comfort access does. The instrument panel is pretty cool; I watched the tach change colors as I approached redline. The AC blew very cold and the stock radio was very good. Everything felt solid and tight. It was just a comfy luxurious place to be.

Now for the driving part! The car is fast; the engine makes little audible noise and with no fuss gets beyond the speed limit very fast. The car is absolutely quite, maybe a little road noise on a rough surface. The car I drove had all season 18 inch which felt a little squirrelly on the curves. Other then that, it drove like other Lexusí, subtle and smooth. The ride at high speeds and around curves was very confidence inspiring. I felt no noticeable torque steer. I did spin the front wheels a few times which reminded me it was front wheel drive.

All that said, driving the car for totally uninspiring compared to the 330i. Having an engine that smooth and fast was nice but it was missing character, no sound, no vibration; it was like running as fast as you can without any noticeable breathing, It just felt strange, very hard to describe. As far as handling and steering, the driver is very removed from the experience. It is responsive and precise but you feel like you are speaking the commands and someone else is doing the driving, someone you have confidence in.

In the end, I loved getting into the car and hitting that start button (no need to insert FOB) but once I was driving I was immediately bored. I figure if Iím bored during the test drive there is nothing else to consider, this car is not for me.

Likes:

Leather
AC
Navigation
Seats
Instruments
Fit and Finish
FOB
Gives you all the items you need to pay extra for in a BMW

Dislikes:

Too soft suspension
Everything feels computer controlled
Very sterile driving experience
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  #2  
Old 07-03-2006, 01:59 PM
quackman quackman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RICKMS
I felt no noticeable torque steer. I did spin the front wheels a few times which reminded me it was front wheel drive.
Isn't the IS a rear wheel drive car?


Nice review though, glad to hear the 3 series is the better driver.
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Last edited by quackman; 07-03-2006 at 02:18 PM.
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  #3  
Old 07-03-2006, 02:21 PM
RICKMS RICKMS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quackman
Isn't the IS a rear wheel drive car?


Nice review though, glad to hear the 3 series is the better driver.
You are correct. Damn, I must have been feeling rear wheel spin. Wow I was blaming some of the lack of feel on it being a front wheel car I guess I need to blame it on something else.
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  #4  
Old 07-03-2006, 04:58 PM
Penforhire Penforhire is offline
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Hmm, unless you turned off its active handling there's no way you spun anything (with a little unofficial hand-brake dance at start-up).

They don't have a "DSC-off" button like we do. I test drove one before getting my e90 and there was a lot to like about it. After owning the e90 for a while now I can say, for myself, the iDrive may be BETTER than the touch screen in the long run. But for a pure luxury-soft commuter barge the IS350 would be a good choice.

I was turned off by the overboosted numb steering and poorly controlled body motions (roll, squat, and dive) but that motor is a beast and the interior design was very comfortable. They need a REAL sport edition (not a stiffening of one component) and manual tranny or SMG-like option.
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  #5  
Old 07-03-2006, 06:01 PM
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val3ntin3s val3ntin3s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penforhire

They don't have a "DSC-off" button like we do.
I just got a IS250 as a loaner car the other day because i had to get my parent's Lex maintenanced, and there is actually a DSC off button, at least in the 250 that i drove. Its located under the steering wheel on the right side where it says "trac off". Either way good post OP i have to agree w/ most of the things you said, and to add the 250 into the mix here's my review:

Driving experience:
When i drove it the car was obviously lacking some power, due to the smaller engine, if you're just cruising around. However it seemed like a beast in itself once you start driving the car past the 4k RPM mark. What i found was how amazingly quiet and smooth it was at high speeds. I was going 100MPH-110MPH on some LA freeways (i know hard to believe but i was able to hit that on some freeways!) and I even didn't realize how fast i was going until i had looked down on the speedometer, and the handling at those speeds i thought was pretty responsive. One thing i found annoying was that everytime you past the 75MPH mark an amber ring in the speedometer appears, i guess thats just a safety feature? or simply for looks? I tried taking some corners at high speeds just to test the handling, and it indeed felt a little bit sluggish, and as expected when you have the DSC on the car starts beeping letting you know your loosing traction. What i was pretty surprised was the brakes. I dont know about you but i've always had a preception of toyota brakes to be very loose, you'd have to press it really hard in order for the car to respond to it, however not in the IS case I simply tapped the brakes and you can feel the car responding to it right away.

Accessories & Misc.:
The FOB like op said is very cool, you can unlock the driver door by simply just walking up to the car and opening the door like it was unlocked and the start engine button is pretty cool as well, i guess both features they copied from BMW? and like the bmw if you want to start the car you gotta hit the brakes first before pushing the button. As for the interior, i really enjoyed it, specially the "ultra white" coloring of the lights different from the common whiteish yellow glow of lights or even the BMW orangish look and feel. The white feeling makes you feel more relaxed when driving long distances, at least for me it did since i took a joy ride of 150 miles in about half a day in LA w/ the loaner

I've never taken a 3 series to those kinds of speeds before so i can't really compare the two, i'm waiting for the 335 along w/ everyone else in this forum, and i'm guessing/expecting that car will blow this driving experience out of the water.

just my two cents
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Last edited by val3ntin3s; 07-03-2006 at 06:04 PM.
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  #6  
Old 07-03-2006, 06:26 PM
Diode Diode is offline
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Who's that girl in the gif?
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  #7  
Old 07-03-2006, 06:35 PM
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Darrel Revok Darrel Revok is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RICKMS
I felt no noticeable torque steer. I did spin the front wheels a few times which reminded me it was front wheel drive.
I seriously have to question whether you even drove the IS350. Are you sure it wasn't the ES350 you drove?
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  #8  
Old 07-03-2006, 08:25 PM
LoveTAH LoveTAH is offline
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I read on the C&D forums they they finally got the hint, and there will be a stability control off button in 2007. Might be too little too late though.
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  #9  
Old 07-03-2006, 08:42 PM
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val3ntin3s val3ntin3s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diode
Who's that girl in the gif?

Reon Kadena.... you can find her on youtube.
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  #10  
Old 07-03-2006, 09:44 PM
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Vornado Vornado is offline
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I'll never own a Lexus. Ive had toyotas for years. Each one has seemed disconnected with the road, no matter how much they've improved over the years. I drove an 06 Camry a while back in CA for about 600 miles or so. Brand new car, I was afraid of losing control if I took both my hands off the wheel.
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  #11  
Old 07-03-2006, 10:01 PM
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bmwexecutive bmwexecutive is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RICKMS
As far as handling and steering, the driver is very removed from the experience. It is responsive and precise but you feel like you are speaking the commands and someone else is doing the driving, someone you have confidence in.
I totally know what you mean by this. My mom's Lexus GX470 feels just like this and I find it actually to be great for long distance highway driving, but otherwise it's just too boring.
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  #12  
Old 07-03-2006, 10:05 PM
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X550-ED X550-ED is offline
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I couldn't have said it better myself
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrTex
I'll never own a Lexus. Ive had toyotas for years. Each one has seemed disconnected with the road, no matter how much they've improved over the years. I drove an 06 Camry a while back in CA for about 600 miles or so. Brand new car, I was afraid of losing control if I took both my hands off the wheel.
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  #13  
Old 07-03-2006, 10:05 PM
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X550-ED X550-ED is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by val3ntin3s
Reon Kadena.... you can find her on youtube.
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  #14  
Old 07-03-2006, 10:20 PM
babino babino is offline
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I had a very similar experience with the IS350. I started out by driving an automatic 330xi and then went to the IS. The IS seemed more technologically advanced (electronics i.e. nav) and was comfortable. The engine in the IS was impressive and almost swayed me from the BMW. However, when I got my chance to drive a manual 330i the tables turned. I felt like I was part of the driving experience with the BMW, not just a passenger. The tech gadget excitement would wear off, but the driving lasts as long as you own the car.

Last Saturday I ordered my 330i and I can't wait. Thanks for the review, it would have been helpful to me during my decision making time, but will surely help someone else.
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  #15  
Old 07-03-2006, 10:23 PM
chonko chonko is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penforhire
Hmm, unless you turned off its active handling there's no way you spun anything (with a little unofficial hand-brake dance at start-up).

They don't have a "DSC-off" button like we do. I test drove one before getting my e90 and there was a lot to like about it. After owning the e90 for a while now I can say, for myself, the iDrive may be BETTER than the touch screen in the long run. But for a pure luxury-soft commuter barge the IS350 would be a good choice.

I was turned off by the overboosted numb steering and poorly controlled body motions (roll, squat, and dive) but that motor is a beast and the interior design was very comfortable. They need a REAL sport edition (not a stiffening of one component) and manual tranny or SMG-like option.
The 2007 IS models will have a VDIM-off control button just like the BMW DSC-off
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  #16  
Old 07-03-2006, 10:32 PM
Aija Aija is offline
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Mein Auto: LexusES330/335Coupe6speed
Quote:
Originally Posted by RICKMS
While I'm waiting on BMW of America to announce future plans for the 330i/335 Sedan and my future car, I've been investigating other vehicles. Today, I had the pleasure of test driving a Lexus IS 350. It is a totally different vehicle then the 330i. From a pure electronic and comfort perspective the IS is amazing. The seats are a one size fits all (no choice of power, leathette or sports seating). They were very comfortable and supportive. It was hot here today (over 90) and the fan through the perforated leather really kept the seats cool. The leather felt much more subtle then the BMW. The navigation blows the idrive/nav unit away, much nicer screen, very intuitive, included parking assist camera. The FOB does everything the BMW comfort access does. The instrument panel is pretty cool; I watched the tach change colors as I approached redline. The AC blew very cold and the stock radio was very good. Everything felt solid and tight. It was just a comfy luxurious place to be.

Now for the driving part! The car is fast; the engine makes little audible noise and with no fuss gets beyond the speed limit very fast. The car is absolutely quite, maybe a little road noise on a rough surface. The car I drove had all season 18 inch which felt a little squirrelly on the curves. Other then that, it drove like other Lexus', subtle and smooth. The ride at high speeds and around curves was very confidence inspiring. I felt no noticeable torque steer. I did spin the front wheels a few times which reminded me it was front wheel drive.

All that said, driving the car for totally uninspiring compared to the 330i. Having an engine that smooth and fast was nice but it was missing character, no sound, no vibration; it was like running as fast as you can without any noticeable breathing, It just felt strange, very hard to describe. As far as handling and steering, the driver is very removed from the experience. It is responsive and precise but you feel like you are speaking the commands and someone else is doing the driving, someone you have confidence in.

In the end, I loved getting into the car and hitting that start button (no need to insert FOB) but once I was driving I was immediately bored. I figure if I'm bored during the test drive there is nothing else to consider, this car is not for me.

Likes:

Leather
AC
Navigation
Seats
Instruments
Fit and Finish
FOB
Gives you all the items you need to pay extra for in a BMW

Dislikes:

Too soft suspension
Everything feels computer controlled
Very sterile driving experience
Good Review. The way i saw it (for me its E92 vs. IS350) was

BMW= Sporty and fun and very fun for short drives, Driving <1hr
Lexus= Luxury and comforatble for long drives, Driving > 1hr
Mercedez= First groundbreaking technology, safe, luxury, and in general Mercedez badge is still seen more valueable then BMW/Lexus/Audi badge in America (this can be easily argued)

One thing i really loved about Lexus was the cooling seat which im afraid the E92 will not have.
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  #17  
Old 07-03-2006, 11:28 PM
Greeney Greeney is offline
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Im going to have to go drive the 350 again... I didnt really give it to much eye the first time becasue of the RWD....
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  #18  
Old 07-04-2006, 01:41 AM
RICKMS RICKMS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darrel Revok
I seriously have to question whether you even drove the IS350. Are you sure it wasn't the ES350 you drove?
Yeah, I did drive the 350 rear wheel. The sales guy told me it was front drive, but when I called him back his claimed he was really talking about the ES 350.

It was the IS 350 rear drive I drove.
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  #19  
Old 07-04-2006, 01:44 AM
RICKMS RICKMS is offline
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I did not mention in my review that before I drove the IS 350 a few weeks back I drove the IS 250 and it was totaly a slug, I cannot believe they even released it. Power was non-existant. I would take a 325i any day over the 250.
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  #20  
Old 07-04-2006, 08:13 AM
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the_s_rabbit the_s_rabbit is offline
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Toyotas and Lexus are more "cushy" for sure. Go drive a scion xA or xB though and you'll find that it isn't so isolated. Those cars definitely feel more raw, like the old IS. It's really too bad that Lexus did away with that now. Especially with the massive power upgrade. But you had to have seen it coming when they put out a rocket like the IS350 and don't even offer a manual.

Dammit, Toyota is really pissing me off these days.
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  #21  
Old 07-04-2006, 08:30 AM
torrentami torrentami is offline
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The other major thing I would add is that the 350 does not offer a manual transmission. That would be a deal breaker for me.
I just came back from ED where I picked up a 330i with everything. I must say that listening to the engine rev is very sweet.
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  #22  
Old 07-04-2006, 08:47 AM
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machmeter machmeter is offline
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Now, if the IS came with Reon Kadena as standard equipment...

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  #23  
Old 07-04-2006, 08:59 AM
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Davisjl Davisjl is offline
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The thing is, a lot of people prefer the disconnected and quite feel of the Lexus. I enjoy my 325i a lot, but to be honest the IS350 was a very close second. I think the three factors that swayed me to the BMW were

Usable Rear Seat (IS350 shouldn't even claim to have a rear seat).
4yr/50k maintenance (Lexus are a pretty expensive car when it comes to maintenance)
Price Point (IS350 was selling at MSRP due to demand)

BMW needs to look closely at the IS350 interior layout and design. If they can accomplish something simular at the current price point, it would be a slam dunk ... at least for me. It seems that a lot of BMW owners like the traditional "German" interior. Blah ... I pretty much hated it the first 2 weeks I had the car. Now, I can tollerate it, but it's not my preference. I much prefer the cockpit feel of the IS.
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  #24  
Old 07-04-2006, 09:06 AM
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machmeter machmeter is offline
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I actually considered the IS350, and was ready to go test drive it, etc. When I told my girlfriend, she said "Get another BMW, instead. It saved you in the accident, I think it has more unique qualities, features, and design, the IS looks too much like a Camry (still!!), and besides, I don't like Lexus in general." Another reason why I love her so much.
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  #25  
Old 07-04-2006, 09:12 AM
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bmwexecutive bmwexecutive is offline
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I don't know what all the comotion is about. Personally, I think while the IS350 might have a more powerful engine than the 3 series, that's about all it has over the 3. It has an interior that is so inferior to BMWs that I couldn't even drive inside it for more than a minute. The only thing I like about the interior is the instrument gauges. And Lexus's touch-screen navigation system is horrid. Seriously, I'd much rather have iDrive with a control knob than a Lexus nav system with a touch-screen and all of those damn fingerprints on the screen everytime you touch it. To confirm my thoughts I'll go test drive a Lexus IS350 this week and let you guys know what I think. I've been inside one before but never did the test drive.
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