2013 Lexus IS 350 Review

She Said: That Car Lady, Lynn Beckwith

With Texas weather dropping to a freezing point on many nights, it was my good fortune to drive the 2013 Lexus IS350C during the few days that the temperature spiraled back up to t-shirt and short weather this month. Black from nose to, well…it’s chopped off rear end, this sporty hard top convertible was a sophisticated blast tooling through Houston’s moon lit streets.

Even with their tops up convertibles have always required a tolerance of excess noise. The whir and hum of road noise has always separated drivers who are truly committed to having the wind in their hair from those smart enough to drive hard tops. Not anymore! The retractable hard top on the Lexus IS350C is driven by 13 different motors, makes its exceptionally quick conversion in just seconds and remarkably seals up tight and as sound-proof as the sedan. It seals very well and is so quiet that you could drive this vehicle and not even realize the top retracts.

The direct injection V6 3.5 engine combines 306 horses with reasonable fuel economy so that the electric top is not the only thing that is fast. With good acceleration from highway speeds, just partial pressure on the pedal will get you up to speed and beyond. It seemed quicker than the 60 mph in less than six seconds that the manufacturer touts. As you might expect, I ignored the eco and normal settings being quite content to pop the Sports drive selection knob to the right for my entire drive.

The low, comfortable and snug bucket seats keep both driver and front seat passenger smooth and solid – even in quick turns. Connectivity was easy for both telephone and music with enough gadgetry to keep you busy. Dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, leather trim, a 13 speaker stereo with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB port and satellite radio are standard, so there is little reason for upgrades. The back seat barely has enough leg room for small passengers, but remember this is a sports car, not a family SUV.

Changes coming with 2014

While stylish in 2013, the easy to recognize spindle shaped grille evolves in 2014 to a very large and dynamic heavy bottomed spindle made from shiny and tiny “L”s. The lower half is designed to increase intake airflow, but the design element far outshines any functionality that Lexus intended. The body is almost 3 inches longer and a small bit wider. Combined with reshaped rear seats there is just enough room in the 2014 for the rear seat passengers that you won’t find in the 2013. The 2014 looks faster too, while the primary change to its drive train was the addition of Port Fuel Injection to the 2013’s Direct Injected engine the new model’s styling gives the look of additional power and agility.

The IS 350C F Sport can satisfy your need for both a luxury sedan and sports car. The F Sport suspension package makes it handle through turns while a simple switch gives you the feel of a luxury sedan. Stand by for the 2014 with both beautiful and functional upgrades, it is well worth the wait.

Wishing you miles and miles of happy driving,
Lynn

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He Said: John Miller The Car Counselor Show

The 2013 Lexus IS 350 convertible is what I expect from Lexus, a joy to drive made even more so with the retractable hardtop down. Obsidian black outside with a black leather interior set off with real wood trim the car portrays luxury and comfort. The styling of the two door body line appears poised for performance.

Powered by a V6, 3.5 liter engine making 306 horsepower coupled to a six speed automatic transmission the car performs well, if not spectacularly. Handling is good on the base 350C, if a little softer than expected on a sport model.  It is much improved with the addition of the F Sports Package that was on our test car. The F Sport group includes a tighter suspension and larger more aggressive tires that give the driver a better feel for the road and the car a better grip under all conditions. The package also includes a few other non-performance items such as aluminum pedals and step plates, sport grille and spoiler, sportier steering wheel and shifter and of all things heated and vented seats. I assume those are to keep your backside cool in tight turns?

The focus of the IS 350C is of course the “C” part of it. The retractable hard top offers the best of both a coupe and a convertible. When closed the top is tight and air leak free. When open it is tucked away in the trunk space providing a wide open cabin. It goes from open to close in about 20 seconds with no more effort than a push of a button.

Options on our test car included the Navigation System with back up camera and a 12 speaker premium sound system, Lexus Enform infotainment base that includes Bing, Facebook Places, Yelp, IHeart Radio and several other apps synced to your smart phone. The mapping is crisp and clear with voice command for addresses and point of interest. We also had the Intuitive Parking Assist and High Intensity Headlamps with LED Daytime Running Lights.

I would recommend adding the Luxury Package that would include the driver memory settings and the Adaptive Cruise Control with Pre-Collison assist.

The dash is fitted with anti-glare gauges and when the top is down the audio and climate control adjusts automatically for the extra heat and noise load. The driver can sit comfortably after adjusting the 10 way seat and power tilt and telescoping column. All of the controls are in easy reach, if a little complicated on the navigation option. The car is designed to fit the diver and provide a great level of blended comfort and performance. It is not built with back seat passengers in mind. The rear seat leg room is pitiful.

With the IS 350C you don’t get a lot of storage space. With the top up there is about 10 cubic feet of trunk space, but with the top down that drops to less than 2.5 cubic feet. If you are taking a partner to the golf course you can either have the top up and the clubs in the truck, or the top down and the clubs on the back seat.

The 0 to 60 acceleration is 5.9 seconds and stopping from that speed only takes 111 feet. EPA estimates for fuel economy are 19 city and 27 highway. The State Farm ratings list it as average in all areas except personal injury where it scores better than average. With dash, seat and knee air bags it protects the driver well and it is the only car in its class to also have full side curtain air bags.

The 2013 Lexus IS 350C is exactly what I expected from Lexus, a nice combination of performance a luxury.

John

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