It’s OK to say I love a car, right?
Because the 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F SPORT sedan stole my heart.
When one of the smoothest, sexiest sports cars on the market is an inspiration for the new 2021 Lexus IS, you know it’s going to be a winner. From the virtual launch of this newly made-over sedan, I could spot some design notes from the Lexus LC 500h I drove last year, and I knew I would love this sedan. I was not disappointed when I finally got to drive the 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport last week. With a starting price of $39,000, 311 horsepower, and a body to die for, it’s hard not to love this sports sedan.
It should be noted that the model I drove was a preproduction model, meaning features may change a bit between now and production.
A Smooth, Sporty Ride I Couldn’t Get Enough Of
Let’s start with the exterior in Infrared red. It’s a gorgeous, candy-apple red that changes colors in the sun. From bright and cheery to deep, dark, and moody, this red is dreamy. Then you’ve got those wide hips, just like the LC, made even more noticeable by the sleek line that runs from the front quarter panel to the rear. Every time I looked in the sexy little mirrors (also inspired by the LC) and saw those hips, I smiled. If you take a little walk around the outside, you’ll soon discover the carbon fiber spoiler. Talk about a cherry on top this delight of a car.
The inside of this car was solid black (though there are other color combinations including white and black). Bolstered F Sport embossed leather seats hug you just right. A beautiful 10.3″ touch screen infotainment system (thank you, Lexus, for the touch screen!), a 17-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio system, and ash wood accents on the doors and steering wheel are just a few of the things to love. Another little thing that caught my eye and made me say “wow” every time I started the engine was the sliding bezel on the 8″ driver display. It really is the little stuff that makes all the difference!
But, the drive. Oh, the drive! Like a smooth-as-silk bass vocal, this car’s exhaust tones excite your senses and beg you to give her just a little more throttle. That’s it, easy now around the curve… then hard again in the straightaway. Watch that speedometer though, because the 2021 Lexus IS has 311 horsepower, and she likes to put all of it to use. You’re so comfortably cradled in her bolstered seats and fine-tuned suspension that you won’t suspect a thing until the flashing blue lights appear in your rearview mirror.
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Enough With the Gushing. Who Is This Car Really For?
Singles. Couples. Small families. It’s a mid-size sport sedan and it seats five… if the rear passengers are small. We were able to put the baby’s car seat back there and still have space for our thirteen and nine-year-old sons, but I wouldn’t have described their situation as roomy. They would have preferred a little more elbow space for long trips. It’s about the same size as our Camry: It works for us now, but probably not for much longer. So, two kids, three if they’re small.
Anyone who loves smooth, fast cars and wants a little luxury mixed in. This one is marketed more for its performance than as a luxury sedan, and it’s pretty darned sleek. It may not be lined inside with suede, but you’re still going to feel spoiled by all the beautiful chrome and wood accents, ambient lighting and premium surround sound system.
With an estimated fuel economy of 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway, the 2021 Lexus IS makes a great everyday driver for those who have long commutes. And the all-wheel-drive is a huge plus on wet roadways or in colder climates where ice and snow are regular issues to contend with.
The trunk is super spacious and ready to haul home your groceries, the baby’s stroller, and the bundles of decor you picked up at Hobby Lobby.
Here’s What You Should Know About the 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F SPORT
- V6 with 311 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. torque
- 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
- All Wheel Drive (AWD) and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)
- Estimated fuel economy 19/26/22 (city/highway/combined MPG)
- Triple beam LED headlight with automatic high beams
- LED tail lamps and daytime running lights
- Auto-dimming heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps
- Power tilt and slide moonroof
- Keyless entry with push-button start/top
- Rain-sensing windshield wipers
- Backup camera with dynamic gridlines and panoramic view monitor
- Smart access key card
- Driver-selectable drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport S, Sport S+, Custom)
- 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat including lumbar support, with 4-way adjustable headrests
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- 1 DC outlet, 1 AUX and 2 USB jacks in console box
- Deodorizing and pollen removing clean air filter
- Navigation system with 10.3-inch high-resolution touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus Amazon Alexa integration
- LFA-inspired 8-inch TFT instrument panel with sliding bezel
- Mark Levinson 17-speaker, 1800-watt premium surround sound audio system
- Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and front collision warning
- Automatic emergency braking and emergency steering assist
- Lane departure alert with steering assist
- Dynamic radar cruise control
- Blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert
- F SPORT exterior styling including unique front and rear bumpers, grille surround, rear spoiler, and exhaust tips
- F SPORT 19-inch lightweight, forged staggered alloy BBS wheels finished in matte black
- F SPORT suspension tuning and dynamic handling package
- F SPORT bolstered heated and ventilated front seats
- Perforated leather-trimmed shift knob and steering wheel with F SPORT logo
- F SPORT heated ash wood-trim steering wheel and ash interior trim with embossed door trim
- Aluminum pedals
- Carbon fiber rear spoiler
- Starting MSRP $39,000
- Price as tested $56,820
Related: The SUV/Sedan/Performance Car You Didn’t Know You needed: 2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43 Coupe Review
Did We Miss Anything?
Actually, yes. The only charging options are the DC outlet and 2 USB ports are located inside the center console; if you don’t lift the arm rest and look for them you might miss them. While I would love to see a wireless charge pad included, I looked around and couldn’t see where one would possibly fit.
I was surprised, however, to see that the 2021 Lexus IS has a CD player. As in plays those shiny round discs that were popular in when I was in my teens (please don’t tell my kids how long ago that was!). But, experts admit that the sound quality with a CD is far better than you’re going to get with streamed radio, so if you can have great sound, why not? It’s just that much more to love.
Disclosure: Lexus provided this 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport AWD for me to drive. All opinions about my experience are my own.