2022 Lexus IS 350 AWD Review - The Choice Is Yours
2022 Lexus IS 350 AWD
There may come a time when this fine publication will need a name change lest we fall behind the times. News articles dutifully report that automakers continue to research autonomous driving technologies designed to keep people safer by entrusting the speed and direction of our personal mobility devices to fallible sensors and algorithms designed by the lowest bidding mathematician.
The past two decades have further revealed that all too many drivers prefer seeing over - and potentially running over - any perceived obstacles and threats, rather than maneuvering around them. Thus the proliferation of vehicles larger than many midcentury Lower East Side SROs has continued unabated.
Cars are a dying breed. But I doubt anyone here wants to read The Truth About Large Automated Vehicular Boxes. Most of us still enjoy deploying the skills involved in maneuvering a four-wheeled car quickly and efficiently. So I ask you, my comrades, to stand up and fight against those who suppress us in our desires to take the wheel into our own hands. Grasp the wheel firmly. Choose a car - not a car masquerading as a truck. Choose joy in your garage. Choose a real sports sedan, like this 2022 Lexus IS 350. Be the change you want to see on the road.
It might take a fair bit of searching - and I’ll leave that to you, dear reader, as we could certainly use the clicks - but I’m sure I’ve lamented the presence of all-wheel drive in a vehicle that might have been more fun in a rear-drive configuration somewhere on these pages in the past. Perhaps it’s age, or maybe my growing appreciation of heated steering wheels as nights grow longer and the cold winds whip down from Lake Erie - but in this IS, I’m perfectly ok with four driven wheels. My drivetime was generally sunny and dry, and yet this all-wheel drive sedan felt plenty joyful to drive. The steering was hardly dulled like many AWD vehicles seem to be; instead, turn-in is direct and communicative without harshness.
I would, however, likely choose the RWD model if it were my signature on the foursquare - simply due to the price. Choose whatever heritage-based slur you like for me, but I’m cheap. A rear-drive IS 350 F-Sport can be had, being appropriately conservative with the options but selecting the $1,160 F-Sport handling package, for around $46k. Plus the rear-drive model gets a pair of extra gears in the transmission - this all-wheel drive model has six speeds, whereas the RWD IS has eight.
No matter how many wheels are driven, choose the 350 model - which denotes this sonorous 311 horsepower V6. If you’re reading this review that tells me that you have some sort of soul - you enjoy driving. The 3.5-liter six-cylinder here sings to a redline in the vicinity of 7,000 rpm. It practically begs to be wound out.
Upon opening the door of my tester, I was at once delighted and befuddled. The red seating and trim dominating most of the interior is lovely - I’m tired of dull black or beige. The seats themselves are quite comfortable - at least up front, where I’d happily spend all day long without complaint. The rear does get a bit tight, especially when seated behind someone well over six feet like me - knee room is precious for my kids. But they managed.
The confusion came from the control inputs. I knew that Lexus had introduced this latest generation of IS in the model year 2021, but it felt immediately familiar to another car I had reviewed many years ago. Indeed, comparing the dashboard here to the one in the Lexus RC-F I reviewed in November 2016 there are more similarities than differences. There’s even a CD player! In 2022! The old touchpad to control the 10.3-inch touchscreen remains as clunky as ever. But it works, and with practice becomes familiar enough to fade into the background.
Rather than dwelling upon the faults that I’ve found with the 2022 Lexus IS 350 - of which there are remarkably few - let us for a moment consider that there are precious few sedans left in any form, and the presence of any sports sedan that engages the driver is worthy of praise. Yeah, the rear seat is tight and some of the controls are dated. But this car will dance if you ask it to, and will likely continue doing so until approximately the end of time.
[Images: © 2022 Chris Tonn]
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Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in ebay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.
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