If you need a little more peace and quiet in your life, the 2010 Lexus IS350 may be just the paradise on wheels for you.
It’s incredibly quiet, keeping outside noise so much at bay that I kept turning down the radio when I realized that I could barely hear the rattle and rumble of trucks and other outside sounds. Even with the engine running, it’s one quiet ride.
An industry insider told me the vehicle’s serenity is due, in part, to special glass designed to keep the cabin hushed as much as possible as well as other materials that are used to lessen sound. It all works—especially remarkable since this vehicle is a convertible.
Whether the top is up or down, the Lexus IS350 is a stylish-looking two-door. With its 3.5-liter dual overhead cam V6 engine, it performs nicely whether on the highway or in city traffic.
And although it’s a convertible, it is a hardtop convertible, and when the top is up, it’s almost impossible to recognize it as such. It’s that seamless. I couldn’t wait to try the automatic control, and at the touch of a lever, the three-piece top disengaged from the windshield and folded itself into the trunk. All in less than 30 seconds. While trunk space is compromised when the top is down, there’s still enough room for a few carry-ons. (The Web site claims one golf bag can fit.)
I’m a big fan of Lexus IS350’s large navigation touch screen, which thanks to its size and clarity, makes everything—maps, climate, phone, audio, backup view and more—easily visible and a breeze to control.
About the only issue I have with the IS350 is an innovative system called automatic sound levelizer, which automatically adjusts the volume as the vehicle speeds increases and decreases. While the concept sounds good, I was continually annoyed when the volume crept up as I approached 30 miles per hour and I had to keep turning it down. But I’ll acknowledge that I’m sensitive to noise.
Other intriguing high-tech features in this Lexus include side view mirrors that automatically tilt down when you shift into reverse (to make parallel parking easier) and “dynamic” cruise control that keeps the vehicle at a pre-set distance from the one in front of it.
Safety features that you can’t see but are impressive nonetheless include a pre-collision system that detects when a collision is about to occur and activates measures to reduce impact damage as well as driver and front passenger knee airbags.
The Lexus IS 350 gets 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, according to EPA fuel economy estimates.
All in all, the combination of style, comfort and safety makes a not-so-quiet declaration for the IS 350.
Stats: Six-speed electronically controlled automatic (you can switch from automatic to manual shifting without stepping on a clutch), double wishbone suspension, rear wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, eight-speaker sound system, puddle lamps and easy access power seat slide.
Price: The base price for the IS350 is $43,940 and the test vehicle I drove came with $5,800 in options including high intensity headlamps with adaptive front lighting system, heated and ventilated front seats, illuminated scuff plates, navigation system, and intuitive parking assist with front and rear sensors.