While the current-generation Lexus IS has been around for about 5 years now, that age hasn’t worn it much, so the brand is keeping the 2019 Lexus IS 350 going with a few upgrades for this year. This may not be the sportiest or fastest-paced sedan around, but the Lexus IS is for sure one of the more comfortable small touring options on today’s luxury market.
The 2019 Lexus IS 350 now features Amazon Alexa-integrated voice commands for controlling some aspects of the car, like remote starting, locking/unlocking doors, checking fuel level, and the like, from your Echo or other Alexa-enabled device. This can work in reverse as well, if the car is connected, allowing you to turn on the porch light, adjust your thermostat, or give other simple Alexa commands. All pretty cool.
There are no trim level options for the Lexus IS, as is the Lexus way, but there are options. Not too many, though, as the 2019 Lexus IS 350 comes pretty well-heeled in its standard format. The 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic are great in rear-wheel drive. Those living where all-wheel drive might be better can go with a torquier six-speed automatic instead. The former has slightly better fuel economy and a more dynamic rear-biased drive, while the latter has better stability and all-weather capability.
Most of the options for the Lexus IS upgrade infotainment and convenience items. We like the Comfort package with its automatic wipers and dimming rearviews and are big fans of the heated and ventilated seating in the Premium package. The Navigation package’s only reason for being, we think, is to get to the 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio. The infotainment in this Lexus (as in all others) is near-useless for its frustration-inducing design.
Some might like the F SPORT packaging with its bigger wheels, tighter suspension, and intake sound generator. We think it’s great if you’re going with the rear-wheel drive (where F SPORT also adds a limited-slip differential). It doesn’t add as much with the AWD drivetrain, though, especially given the $2,365 premium you’re paying for the package.
The point to the 2019 IS 350, however, is not to be fast and tight on the windy roads. It’s not a track day car either. This is a touring car. Meant for cruising and only occasional sprints and hard turns when the mood strikes. It’s not like the German makes the Lexus brand is so often compared to. It’s more like the British ones, focused on long-term comfort and road-going confidence. And at that, the Lexus IS excels.
On a long, leisurely drive on a side road or highway, the 2019 Lexus IS 350 has one ensconced with comfort and feels good in every way it should. The rear seats are cramped, as the IS is a small car, but the trunk is very usable in terms of space. The ergonomics of the Lexus IS are off-kilter, but not any more so than are those of other luxury makes. It is sometimes amazing what regular everyday vehicles have as standard ideas that luxury marques seem to totally ignore. And nobody cares.
Because luxury now is about the feel of comfort and the little items that prove more care and higher quality was put into the vehicle. Lexus knows interiors and the IS is one of the most luxurious and comfortable you’ll find for the price being paid. The 2019 Lexus IS 350 starts at $42,180, while the 2019 Lexus IS 350 AWD F SPORT starts at $46,710.
That, in a nutshell, is what the 2019 Lexus IS 350 is all about. And we like it.