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2012 Lexus IS (IS 250, IS 350, F Sport) Review


Complete with AWD and RWD models, two powerful engine choices, and a stylish package with 17-inch standard wheels, the Lexus IS sport sedan continues to be a favorite among customers.
2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo
The IS moves into the 2012 model year virtually unchanged after receiving numerous changes last year including revised front and rear styling, minor interior updates, an IS 350 all-wheel drive (AWD) model, and an F Sport Package for the IS 250/350 rear-wheel drive (RWD). The IS sedan models receive a revised color palette as Nebula Gray Pearl replaces Smoky Granite Mica and Fire Agate Pearl replaces Glacier Frost Mica.
2012 Lexus IS 350 photo2012 Lexus IS 350 photo
Engine/Transmission/Drivetrain/Performance
The IS 250’s 2.5-liter V6 engine delivers 204 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 185 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,800 rpm. The IS 350’s 3.5-liter V6 offers a more potent 306 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 277 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. The IS 350 RWD model can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. Both engines employ dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which controls timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts.
2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo
Aside from its larger displacement, the 3.5-liter V6 also differs in that it augments the direct fuel injection with port fuel injectors. In light- and medium-load conditions, these additional injectors help produce a precise burn, optimizing power and efficiency. A dual exhaust system reduces backpressure at higher engine speeds.
An advanced six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is standard on the IS 350 models and the IS 250 AWD. The IS 250 RWD comes standard with a crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission, with the paddle-shift automatic offered as an option.
2012 Lexus IS 350 photo2012 Lexus IS 350 photo
Chassis/Body/Suspension/Tires/Brakes
The Lexus IS models provide a sporty driving experience while also offering a supple, quiet ride. The double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension use high-strength steel and aluminum components to reduce unsprung weight. Sophisticated monotube shock-absorbers integrate multi-leaf linear control valves to optimize damping force, plus internal rebound springs for firmer body control without degrading ride comfort.
The all-wheel-drive system available for the IS 250 and IS 350 provides extra traction in diverse driving conditions. A planetary-gear center differential and a wet-type multi-disc clutch control front-to-rear power distribution. The system normally sends 70 percent of available power to the rear wheels to provide the performance advantages of a rear-drive car and will vary the torque-split ratio from 30:70 to 50:50 in response to driving conditions and driver input. The AWD system's electronic-control strategy takes inputs such as steering and throttle angle from driver activity combined with vehicle signals from wheel speed and yaw rate sensors.
2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo
Aiding the IS models’ traction and control is Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). More advanced than other traction and stability systems, VDIM is designed to anticipate the onset of a vehicle skid or slide and help correct the situation with a combination of braking and throttle control. VDIM integration provides precise management for Electric Power Steering (EPS), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), and engine torque (via the electronically controlled throttle). The driver can disengage VSC via the "TRAC off" switch, which can be useful in certain situations.
The IS 350’s brake system is equipped with larger ventilated front and rear rotors and aluminum four-piston front calipers. Standard all-season performance tires are 225/45R17 in front and 245/45R17 for the rear (225/45R17 on IS 250 and IS 350 AWD). Eighteen-inch wheels are available.
2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo
Safety/Security Features
A reinforced passenger compartment helps protect the occupants with front- and rear-crush structures. Seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters are used for the front and outboard rear seats. In addition to the advanced dual-front airbags and front seat-mounted side airbags, the Lexus Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) for the IS includes side-curtain airbags that extend from A-pillar to C-pillar, and a knee airbag for both the driver and the front passenger. The front passenger airbag features two chambers, creating an indentation in the center impact area that helps to provide overall occupant protection.
The IS 250 offers optional High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with LED daytime running lamps. IS 350 models feature standard HID headlamps with LED daytime running lamps and headlamp washers. The rear back-up camera, included with the optional navigation system, automatically projects an image of what its lens can detect behind the car onto the navigation screen when the transmission is in reverse gear. The exterior mirrors integrate turn signals.
2012 Lexus IS 350 photo2012 Lexus IS 350 photo
The optional Intuitive Park Assist (IPA) system uses ultrasonic sensors to detect objects close to the car's front and rear bumpers, helping to alert the driver and showing distance to objects in the multi-information display within the speedometer. When any IS model is also equipped with the optional navigation system, information on objects detected is shown in greater detail on that system's seven-inch touch screen display.
2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo
Luxury/Comfort/Convenience
The Lexus IS models include a standard leather-trimmed interior with 10-way power front seats; some competitive vehicles make a leather-trim interior optional. The numerous standard amenities in the IS models also include dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat vents and a pollen filter (plus a smog filter on IS 350), power moonroof with one-touch open/close and seven open-position settings, manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, all power windows with automatic up/down feature and jam protection, HomeLink® and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. In addition, the AWD models feature standard heated seats. The SmartAccess keyless entry and push-button-start ignition allows the driver to keep the access fob in a pocket or purse.
The standard Lexus Premium Audio System features a six-disc, in-dash CD changer, 194 watts (max.) total power, 13 speakers, iPod®/USB connectivity, Bluetooth® hands free phone and music streaming and an integrated satellite radio receiver. The Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL) maintains consistent sound levels at varying vehicle speeds.
2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport photo
Luxury Options
The F Sport Package available for the IS 250/350 RWD takes inspiration from the IS F ultra-performance sedan, combining special suspension and steering tuning and 18-inch alloy wheels with a dark super-chrome finish. Giving the IS 250/350 F Sport Package model a sporty demeanor are a front lip spoiler, rear deck spoiler and dark-chrome front grille insert. Ultrasonic Blue exterior color is available in conjunction with the F Sport Package.
Inside, special F Sport heated front seats feature a microfiber insert and leather side bolsters to provide more grip for the driver and passenger during cornering. The package also adds F Sport badging to the steering wheel, shift knob and doorsill scuff plates.
An optional Luxury Plus Package includes wood trim, perforated leather seating trim and heated and ventilated front seats, plus three-position memory for Driver’s seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, power tilt and telescopic steering column and auto-dimming outside mirrors.
Like all Lexus models, the IS offers its own version of the Mark Levinson® Premium Surround Sound Audio system, which is available in conjunction with the optional DVD touch-screen navigation system. This 14-speaker audio system features discrete 5.1 multi-channel playback with 7.1-channel speaker architecture. Its 10 amplifier channels provide 300 watts total output at 0.1 percent total harmonic distortion (THD). The Mark Levinson system plays conventional CDs and DVDs, plus MP3/WMA-formatted CDs. DVD movies can be viewed on the optional navigation system's color seven-inch touch screen when the parking brake is engaged.
The Lexus IS also offers a telematics system, Lexus Enform® with Safety Connect®, available by subscription. Complimentary one-year trial subscriptions are included on all purchases of new Lexus vehicles equipped with these features. Safety Connect is standard on all vehicles, while Lexus Enform with Safety Connect is on vehicles equipped with the optional Navigation system. The Lexus Enform and the Safety Connect response centers operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—every day of the year.
Lexus Enform vehicles are factory ready for subscriptions to a variety of innovative SiriusXM services including NavTraffic, NavWeather, Sports, and Stocks. SiriusXM services offer complimentary 90-day trial subscriptions and require separate audio and data subscriptions.
Exterior Design
The Lexus IS sedans have their own distinctively sporty identity. A notably wide stance and long wheelbase, coupled with tightly drawn bodywork, give the IS an athletic, road-hungry yet sophisticated style. Carefully shaped body contours, a subtle ducktail-curved trunk lid and “air kick” tail lamps contribute to a low 0.28 coefficient of drag (Cd).
A highly rigid body structure is the starting point for controlling noise intrusion. Strategically placed noise-suppression materials, including special window and door seals, acoustic windshield glass and asphalt sheeting, take over from there.
Interior Design
The IS models’ luxurious cabin features intelligently designed displays and controls that are easy to see and use. Bright, clear Optitron gauges and smartly integrated metallic trim, or available Bird's-eye Maple trim, contribute to an elegant yet sporty environment. Premium interior materials and meticulous attention to detail convey the Lexus identity.
The multi-information display located within the speedometer integrates a trip computer and an oil-maintenance reminder and system warnings, all grouped in one convenient location. When equipped with the available Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), the display can show a car icon with the location and distance of objects detected near the bumpers.
F Sport Performance Accessories
Lexus offers a selection of F Sport Performance Accessories for the IS models, including performance-enhancing parts such as 19-inch forged alloy wheels, brake upgrades, suspension systems, air intake, exhaust system and more. F Sport Performance Accessories by Lexus U.S.A. are engineered by Toyota Racing Development (TRD). When installed by an authorized dealer, the accessories are covered by warranty for 12 months or for the balance of the new car warranty, whichever is greater.
2012 Lexus IS 350 photo2012 Lexus IS 350 photo
Warranty
All new Lexus vehicles come with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles. Powertrain and restraint system coverage is provided for 72 months/70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage.

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