2022 Lexus IS 350 AWD Review - The Choice Is Yours

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
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Fast Facts

2022 Lexus IS 350 AWD

3.5-liter V6 (311hp @ 6,600 rpm, 280lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm)
Six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, MPG
19 city / 26 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy, L/100km
12.2 city / 9.0 highway / 10.8 combined. (NRCan Rating)
Base Price
$46,125 US / $56,676 CAN
As Tested
$53,875 US / $62,976 CAN
Prices include $1,075 destination charge in the United States and $2,276 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
2022 lexus is 350 awd review the choice is yours

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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Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

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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2 of 18 comments
  • RHD RHD on Dec 10, 2022

    It will find its share of buyers. Lexus reliability has everyone beat, especially the Germans. Their seats are second only to Volvo for comfort hour after hour. However, I would not want to be the body shop guy trying to match the creases and waves by hand... do they have to order panel segments and weld them in?

  • The Invisible man The Invisible man on Mar 10, 2023

    It's all wheel drive, not four wheel drive.

  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.
  • Marky S. I own the same C.C. XSE Hybrid AWD as in this article, but in Barcelona Red with the black roof. I love my car for its size, packaging, and the fact that it offers both AWD and Hybrid technology together. Visibility is impressive, as is its small turning circle. I consider the C.C. more of a "station wagon" by proportion, rather than an “SUV.” It is fun to drive, with zippy response and perky pick-up. It is a pleasant car to drive and ride in. It is not trying to be a “Butch Off-Roader”, or a cosseting “Luxury Cruiser.” Those are not its goals or purpose. The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid AWD is a wonderful All-Purpose Car (O.K. – “SUV” if you must hear me say it!) with a combination of all the features it has at a reasonable price.
  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.