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Drives, Lexus — April 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm

2013 Lexus IS 350: First Look

The 2013 Lexus IS 350 Ride of the Week sits on optional, staggered-width 18-inch wheels.

The 2013 Lexus IS 350 Ride of the Week sits on optional, staggered-width 18-inch wheels.

Here’s a first look at the latest Ride of the Week, a 2013 Lexus IS 350.

This year marks the final one for the current-generation IS. The completely redesigned 2014 model debuted at the Detroit Auto Show and is due to hit Lexus showrooms in June. So now is the last chance to buy a new, second-generation IS 350 like the one pictured here.

Should you buy a 2013 now, or wait a few months for the new 2014 Lexus IS 350? That depends on your criteria. The most obvious difference between the two is exterior styling; the new, 2014 IS adopts the Lexus “spindle grille” up front and has a decidedly sportier look than the 2013 model. If you’ve just got to have the new look, your decision is made. But if styling is less important–or if you prefer the 2013’s more buttoned-down design–here are a few reasons to snap up one of the last 2013 IS 350s before they’re all gone.

1. Same engine
Both the four-cylinder IS 250 and V6-powered IS 350 use the same engine for the 2013 and 2014 models, so don’t expect a big bump in power. The 2014 IS 350 does get an 8-speed automatic in place of the current, 2013 model’s six-speed. But again, the bigger and heavier 2014 car is not significantly quicker or more fuel-efficient as a result.

2. Tried and true
Some folks never buy a vehicle in its first model year. They subscribe to a philosophy that it takes a year or two for automakers to “work the kinks out,” to discover any design or material flaws, and to initiate recalls if necessary. Is it true that a model gets better as it ages? Maybe or maybe not. But if you believe it does, don’t take a chance. If something fails on your new car, you’ll kick yourself for not following your gut.

3. Simple, touch-screen interface
If you opt for navigation in the 2014 IS, you’ll have to deal with Lexus’s Remote Touch Interface, which uses a mouse-type controller located on the center console. The controller is designed to minimize distraction, but some drivers may find the simple, touchscreen interface in a navigation-equipped 2013 IS to be more user-friendly.

4. Attractive pricing
Anxious to make room for the upcoming 2014 model, Lexus is offering some nice deals on the 2013 IS. Whether you lease, finance or buy outright, expect a substantial discount on the outgoing car. If you wait, don’t be surprised if dealers are less willing to negotiate on their limited supplies of 2014 models.

5. Less is more
The 2014 Lexus IS is about 3.5 inches longer than the 2013 car, and the new one has more interior and trunk space. But unless you’re a six-footer or you often carry adults in your backseat, you may not need the extra space. And for city drivers like me, the extra bulk can be a hassle when parallel parking or squeezing into a tight space.

Quick Specs: 2013 Lexus IS 350

body type4-door, 5-passenger sedan
as-tested price$46,935
engine size/configuration3.5-liter V6
horsepower/torque (hp/lb-ft)306/277
transmission6-speed automatic
fuelpremium unleaded
EPA city fuel economy rating (mpg)19
EPA highway fuel economy rating (mpg)27
optionsLuxury Plus Value Edition package; navigation; parking sensors


  • John Harper

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  • Eric

    That ride is definitely not “sitting on some bullsh**”. 🙂 Love the look of both the old and new Lexus models. Haven’t been inside one in a while, do they still have the most comfortable leather around (at least in a “generally approachable” vehicle)?

  • Nick Palermo

    Oh hell no. With those factory staggered 18s, it’s not at all necessary to jack a fool for his Daytons in the drive-thru of Long John Silver’s on Moreland.

  • Nick Palermo

    I failed to speak to the quality of the leather. It’s indeed nice. The IS 350 gets standard leather, but the test vehicle has perforated semi-aniline leather as part of the $2,730 Luxury Plus package. It also brings heated and ventilated front seats. I love leather for its durability, ease of care and scent, but hot leather in the summer is no fun. The ventilation makes it more comfortable year-round, and the perforations make the seats look sporty, too.

  • Eric

    Haha. “… and I’ll take a double burger with cheese!”

    Have to admit, I’ve never thought about the ventilation and the summer heat. That would be nice, I’ve got black leather in a Volvo S40 and it is brutal in the GA summer. Prolly looking for a new ride in 2014 and I love Lexus, but I’m also cheap.