The 2006 Lexus IS350 is the latest car to be defined by one of automotive journalism's favorite tropes: "The fill-in-the-blank is the car that's finally going to dethrone the BMW 3-series as the benchmark for contemporary sport sedans."
Although lots of American, European, and Japanese manufacturers have tried the Bimmer on for size, none has measured up. Lexus took a shot with its outgoing IS300-and missed the mark. Sold in Japan as a Toyota and badged in the States as a Lexus, the original IS was too small and too light on luxe to knock the 3-series off its pedestal.The new-from-the-ground-up IS is more powerful, more refined, more cleverly packaged, and more liberally equipped than the car it replaces. That's the good news. The bad news is that BMW can make the same claim for its freshly overhauled-and frankly Lexus-ized-3-series. The question now is whether Lexus can hit this fast-moving target.Lexus increases its odds of scoring a bull's-eye by offering three versions of the IS and a pair of all-new engines. The entry-level IS250 is powered by a 2.5-liter V-6 rated at 204 hp. The IS250 AWD adds all-wheel drive.... Read full article