NEW FOR 2009:

– New front and rear bumper and radiator grille design
– Standard Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), mirrors with integrated turn signals, and foldable rear seat head restraints
– IS 350 RWD adds wallet-size Smart Card key
– Changes to trim and option packages
– Exterior colours: Truffle Mica and Matador Red Mica added; Desert Sage Metallic discontinued
– Interior colours: Ecru Leather replaces Cashmere Leather; Terra Cotta Leather added

For 2009, the Lexus IS line-up is unchanged, save for a minor facelift and some new standard features to all models. Option packages change slightly: on the IS 250 RWD the new “D Package” adds bi-Xenon headlamps and 18-inch tires, while the Sport Package adds a wallet-size Smart Card key and 18-inch all season radials; the IS 250 AWD has a new Leather with Moonroof and Navigation Package, while the Luxury with Navigation Package adds the wallet-size Smart Card key; and the IS 350 RWD adds all-season tires in place of summer performance tires on the Sport and Luxury with Navigation packages.

The IS line-up consists of the IS 250, in rear- or all-wheel drive; the IS 350, in rear-wheel drive; and the IS F, in rear-wheel drive. All are four-door sedans. The IS 250 uses a 2.5-litre V6 with six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic in the RWD, and six-speed automatic in the AWD. The IS 350 uses a 3.5-litre V6 with six-speed automatic, while the IS F uses a 5.0-litre V8 with eight-speed automatic transmission.

Features on the IS 250 RWD include 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and wheel-mounted controls, sport cloth seats, rear seat pass-through, power locks with keyless entry, auto up/down on all windows, leather-wrapped wheel with tilt and telescopic column, pushbutton start, cruise control, driver and passenger knee airbags, first-aid kit, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, light control system and fog lamps.

The IS 250 AWD adds 17-inch alloy wheels and power driver’s seat.

The IS 350 adds ten-way power heated leather seats and wallet-size Smart Card key.

The IS F adds 19-inch lightweight alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, eight-way heated leather seats with memory, auto-dimming rearview mirror, three-spoke IS F wheel, garage door opener, power sunroof, and adaptive auto-levelling bi-Xenon headlamps with washers.

Offering a luxury sports sedan experience at a relatively low price, the IS also gives buyers a choice of all-wheel drive in its entry-level model. However, some buyers may notice the lack of some higher-end features, such as power seats, given the Lexus nameplate. The manual gearbox in the 250 will appeal to drivers, as will the power of the IS F. Suspension and handling are sharp and responsive on all models, although the very firm ride does allow road imperfections to make their way into the cabin. Overall, the IS series is comfortable and handsome, and quality is excellent.

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