Ready for Spring | 2013 Lexus IS 350C

April 2013 View more


If you are a Lexus fan and you want a convertible, the IS C is the car for you. Literally. It is the only drop-top in the Lexus lineup. That is not to say that you have just one choice when you open the dealership door. You still must choose between the IS 250C, with a 2.5-liter V6, and the IS 350C, with a 3.5-liter V6.

N2013_04_01_005ROADOne liter of engine size may not seem like a big deal, especially given that the rest of the car is essentially the same—a four-seat, rear-wheel drive hardtop that goes from coupe to convertible in about 20 seconds. But the 100 horsepower that the IS 350C gains over its showroom sibling transforms its left-lane performance.

The IS 250C is a fine choice if your car will spend its life carrying you around town. If, however, you have visions of spirited driving or long hauls on the open road, the IS 350C will be the much more rewarding choice.

With its smooth six-cylinder engine and smart-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, the IS 350C drives like you would expect a luxurious Lexus to drive. It is quiet and composed, and offers plenty of power for merging and passing. The suspension is clearly tuned for comfort, as befits the Lexus image. New for 2013, though, are optional “F Sport” performance parts that ratchet up the car’s power and sharpen its handling.

While the IS C is a delightful companion on a beautiful day, it is also surprisingly secure in a spring storm. On an impromptu road trip to Cleveland, when the heavens opened up and deposited relentless rain on the interstate, the Lexus felt as stable and planted as a larger sedan. With snow tires to complement its stability and traction control systems, it would likely do well all winter, too.

N2013_04_01_006ROADInside, the IS C offers comfortable front seats, high-quality leather, and easy-to-navigate controls. An auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power tilting telescoping steering wheel, iPhone connector, and heated side mirrors are among the car’s standard features with many more available as options.

Overall, the IS C falls into the category of fairly functional. It is able to carry four, so long as the two in back are of the child variety or are extremely forgiving adults. The mirror-image seatbelts in the back seats cause children constant consternation, at least for the first hundred times they reach the wrong direction to find the buckle.

With the top up, the IS C’s trunk is perfectly adequate for most of life’s errands. With the top stowed, it is predictably truncated but still capacious enough to carry small luggage or a week’s groceries.

And with its fuel economy rating of 19 in the city, 27 on the highway, the IS 350C has enough range to take you places.

The 2013 Lexus IS 350C starts at $46,890. The IS 250C rings in at a bit less at $42,610. Bucking the trend of many luxury models, the IS C comes in just one trim level, though the optional Luxury and Navigation packages essentially remake the interiors. The Luxury package at $3,055 adds luxury in the form of heated and cooled seats, upgraded leather, wood trim, and rain-sensing wipers—a feature that you did not know you needed, but you do. That package also includes a fantastic feature for drivers with regular rear-seat passengers—a one-touch electronic button that folds and slides the front seats forward and back. A wise stand-alone option, given the car’s limited rear visibility, is the $500 parking sensor.

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