While most of the Lexus lineup gets only the slightest of revisions for the upcoming 2011 model year, the luxury brand has singled out its IS line for some special updates both to the cars' appearance and performance.
The most interesting updates are applied to the 2011 Lexus IS F sports sedan (Note: The 2010 Lexus IS F is pictured in the gallery as no images of the 2011 model are available yet). While an impressive piece of work, we found it to be just short of the M3-beater Lexus was shooting for. After looking over feedback from its first three years on the road, Lexus has made some important updates for 2011 to address some of the biggest concerns facing the car.
Namely, Lexus has tackled the ride and handling. We found the IS F to be something of a punishing ride off the track and lacking the utterly intuitive steering of the M3 and folks at Lexus apparently agreed and set their engineers at righting those wrongs. To that end, they've revised all the spring rates and shock settings as well as the rear bushings and camber angle, all in the name of improved ride comfort and responsiveness. They also set about tweaking the electric power steering system to improve steering feel and driver control.
Unfortunately, Lexus also caved to recent allegations of electronic gremlins and installed a brake override function on the IS F, likely putting an end to power-braking launches and other such shenanigans.
Topping things off, Lexus also did a little sprucing up both inside the car and out. Outside, the 2011 IS F gets some trendy LED daytime running lights while the interior is treated to new gauges, a silver-trimmed steering wheel, "dark finish aluminum" trim and a "Sport" button relocated from the center stack to the steering wheel. Cars ordered with the black interior now get seats with leather bolsters and Alcantara inserts to better hold you in turns. The Terra Cotta interior is out, replaced with a new orange and black leather interior package.
If the mighty IS F is a bit too rich for you blood, Lexus has also done some work on the standard IS. In fact, you can now get an "F Sport" package on your IS 250 or IS 350, provided they're of the rear-wheel drive variety. F Sport models get front and trunk lip spoilers, a "dark chrome" grille insert, special "dark super-chrome" 18-inch wheels and a new optional paint color called Ultrasonic Blue. More importantly, the F Sport Package gets special suspension and steering tuning to improve handling. Finally, F Sport models get new leather-and-microfiber seats to hold you in place and "F" badges on the steering wheel, shifter and door sills.
The biggest update for the average consumer, though, is the all-new IS 350 All-Wheel Drive model, essentially a more powerful version of the current IS 250 All-Wheel Drive, which by itself accounts for 30 percent of IS 250 sales nationally.
The IS 250C and IS 350C convertibles, meanwhile, get only minor changes. They include new black and silver interior trim and an optional Saddle Tan or Light Gray interior when you pop for the Luxury package. Deep Sea Mica replaces Ultrasonic Blue as the IS convertible's blue color option.
All 2011 IS models except the top-shelf IS F also get a slightly revised exterior. The front fascia has received minor tweaks and is complemented by a revised grille and HID headlights with LED daytime running lights that are standard on the IS 350 and optional on the IS 250. Out back, the 2011 IS gets revised taillights and tailpipes.