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Lexus IS Sedans Get Revised Styling And Handling For 2009 Review

November 2008
Filed under: LEXUS Car News | LEXUS Headlines
The Lexus IS sedans showcase revised styling and gain enhanced interior function and improved handling for 2009. New suspension and steering tuning improve stability and control, and the IS 250 model, in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models, gets the advanced Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. Already standard on the IS 350 model, VDIM integrates all of the car's dynamic-control systems to provide superior handling and traction.

The IS grille and front bumper cover are revised, as are the rear bumper cover and taillight clusters. New turn signals are now integrated into the exterior mirrors, and the 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels feature new designs for 2009. On rear-wheel drive models, the 18-inch wheels can now be equipped with all-season tires.

Inside the IS Lexus enhanced form and function with a revised instrument panel center cluster. The paddle shifters now function in D mode, and some controls have been changed for improved convenience. The rear seat headrests are now foldable to aid rear visibility. New interior colors include Ecru (replacing Cashmere) and Light Gray (replacing Sterling), both accented by new contrast stitching on the seats, door panels, and console lid.

Among luxury brands, Lexus alone offers a unique choice in the entry-luxury segment: The rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive IS models emphasize the brand's sportier side, and the front-wheel-drive ES 350 is focused on ultimate comfort.

Engine/Transmission/ Drivetrain /Performance
The 2008 IS line offers three models: The rear-wheel-drive IS 350, the rear-drive IS 250 and an all-wheel drive IS 250. 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 delivers 306 horsepower at 6,400 RPM along with 277 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm and can accelerate the car from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. Both engines use aluminum cylinder blocks and heads and employ dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which controls timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts.

A direct-type fuel-injection system provides a cooling effect in the cylinders, enabling the high compression needed to extract maximum energy from the fuel. Aside from its larger displacement, the 3.5-liter V6 differs chiefly 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, increasing power and efficiency. A dual exhaust system reduces backpressure at higher engine speeds. All 2009 Lexus IS models meet the Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle II ( ULEV II) certification

An advanced six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is standard on the IS 350 and the IS 250 all-wheel drive model. The rear-wheel drive IS 250 comes standard with a crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission, with the paddle-shift automatic offered as an option.

The Lexus IS is engineered to provide for a sporty driving experience. Its double-wishbone front suspension features a high-mount upper control arm, and the lower arm uses a large, liquid-filled bushing at the rear to minimize vibration and harshness. The multilink rear suspension emphasizes precise control of geometry in all dynamic conditions, helping make the Lexus IS sport sedans ultra-stable for confident driving. High-strength steel and aluminum suspension components reduce unsprung weight, helping the IS remain stable on bumpy surfaces and improving ride comfort.

The sophisticated monotube shock-absorber design utilizes multi-leaf linear control valves to optimize damping force, plus internal rebound springs for firmer body control without degrading ride comfort. Available sport suspension with 18-inch wheels further enhances handling response.

The IS 250's available all-wheel-drive system 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.

Combining input from a variety of sensors, 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), 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 desirable in certain situations.

The Electric Power Steering (EPS) helps to provide linear steering response, precise control and excellent straight-line stability. The vehicle-speed-sensitive system eliminates parasitic loss from a hydraulic pump, and reduces weight and complexity. Both IS models feature a four-wheel disc brake system, with the IS 350 equipped with larger ventilated front and rear rotors. In addition, the IS 350's aluminum four-piston front calipers aid in heat dissipation and stopping power and reduce unsprung weight. Standard all-season performance tires measure 225/45R17 in front and 245/45R17 for the rear (225/45R17 on IS 250 AWD).

Available as a stand-alone option or as part of the Sport Suspension, summer 225/40R18 front tires and 255/40R18 rear tires reward the enthusiast driver with even higher cornering grip. The IS rear-wheel-drive models offer the sporty "X Package" option that combines sport suspension and five-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels with a boldly styled front-lip spoiler and sport pedals.

Safety/Security Features
Passive-safety technology in the Lexus IS begins with a reinforced passenger compartment that helps protect the occupants with front- and rear-crush structures. Seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters are used for the front and outboard rear seats.

In addition to the 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. Advanced dual-stage front airbags are designed to deploy at one of two speeds, according to impact force. The driver's front airbag also includes an extra low stage designed to deploy based, in part, on the seat's position on its track. The front passenger airbag features two chambers, creating an indentation in the center impact area that helps to disperse the force of the bag.

The optional Pre-Collision System (PCS) can help reduce collision damage. The package includes Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which uses millimeter-wave radar to measure and help maintain a set distance from a vehicle traveling ahead. PCS relies on the radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car, and a PCS computer with sensor inputs from vehicle speed, steering angle and yaw rate is designed to determine whether a collision is unavoidable. In such a situation, PCS preemptively retracts front seat belts and pre-initializes Brake Assist so that increased braking will be applied the instant the driver depresses the pedal.

The available High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) helps to illuminate a curve as the driver steers into it. 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 optional Intuitive Park Assist (IPA) system uses ultrasonic sensors to detect objects close to the car's front and rear bumpers, alerting 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.

Standard amenities for the IS models include 10-way power front seats, 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, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The IS 250 AWD model in addition features standard heated, leather-trimmed seats.

A multi-function switch allows the driver to set an adjustable speed warning and an adjustable RPM shift light in the tachometer. The SmartAccess keyless entry and push-button-start ignition allows the driver to keep the access fob in a pocket or purse. The standard HomeLink programmable garage door opener also operates home security devices and other systems.

The standard Lexus Premium Audio System features a six-disc, in-dash CD changer, 194 watts of total power and 13 speakers. Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL) maintains consistent sound levels at varying vehicle speeds. A convenient mini-jack in the center console enables connection of an iPod or other digital music player.

Luxury Options
A Premium Plus Package that is optional for all IS models includes wood trim, perforated leather seating trim and heated and ventilated front seats. The comprehensive "Sport" and "Luxury" option packages also include three-position memory for seats, 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 as a stand-alone option or 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.

Exterior Design
The Lexus IS sedans show a strong family resemblance to the Lexus GS models while establishing 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).

The sound of powerful V6 engines will resonate with driving enthusiasts, yet all vehicle occupants will appreciate Lexus' ability to minimize undesirable noises. 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. No detail has been overlooked, down to the sound-absorbing sun visors.

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, help create an elegant yet sporty environment. Premium interior materials and meticulous attention to detail convey the Lexus identity.

Lexus offers a refreshing approach to designing controls as compared to some competitors that are making controls more complex to learn and distracting to use. One example is the multi-information display located within the speedometer. This versatile feature integrates a trip computer that provides outside temperature, driving range, average fuel consumption, average fuel consumption since refueling (per tank), current fuel consumption, and average speed. The display also includes an oil-maintenance reminder and system warnings, all grouped in one convenient location.

Additional features are added to the multi-information display depending on selected options. When an IS model is equipped with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, the display can show a car icon with the selected following distance. When equipped with Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), the display can show a car icon with the location and distance of objects detected near the bumpers.

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.

Also, read more about the Lexus F-Sport Performance Accessory Line for 2009 Lexus IS 250 and 2009 Lexus IS 350

Overall Exterior Styling/Body Design
Newly designed 17-inch and 18-inch wheels
Color coordinated front airdam with low grille
Shark fin antenna for optional XM satellite radio (antenna is standard with/without XM satellite)
Turn signals incorporated into side mirrors
Revised front bumper cover
Revised front grille
Revised taillight design
Projector bulb headlamps
LED brake, tail and license plate lamps
Color-keyed outside rearview mirrors
Puddle lamps (mounted on underside of outer mirrors)
Dual polished stainless steel exhaust pipes
Top shade/tinted glass on front windshield
Ultraviolet and infrared ray reducing glass on all windows

Body Structure and Paint
Exterior colors: Starfire Pearl, Obsidian, Amber Pearl, Black Sapphire Pearl, Glacier Frost, Tungsten Pearl, Smoky Granite Mica, Matador Red Mica, Truffle Mica, Breakwater Blue Metallic
Flush surface body panel and glass
Use of sound dampening asphalt sheets in roof and floor pan
Acoustic glass windshield to reduce noise
Narrow and precise body panel gaps
Galvanized steel used in all areas of the body except the passenger compartment and the roof
One-piece color-keyed Super Olefin Polymer front and rear bumpers
Anti-chip paint on lower body panels
Stainless steel exhaust system
PVC sealer and undercoating
Cathodic Electro-Deposition treatment

Convenience Features
Heated outside rearview mirrors
Heavy duty rear window defogger with timer
Variable intermittent wipers with mist cycle
Fuel cap hanger


Interior Trim
Interior colors: Black, Ecru, Light Grey
Standard Black cloth
Metallic accent trim
Dark Gray Bird's-eye Maple or Golden Brown Maple accent trim (optional)
Fabric sun visors and headliner
One-piece cut pile carpeting
Floor mats
Two front and two rear articulating assist grips
Contrast stitching added to door panels, console lid and seats

Height adjustable front shoulder belt anchors
Front seatback pockets
Rear seat pass-through to trunk
IS 250 AWD: heated front seats with standard leather trim

Instrumentation and Controls
Optitron gauges featuring a 160-mph speedometer, 8,000-rpm tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature gauges
Battery, oil level, seat belt, brake, airbag SRS, side airbags SRS, engine, oil pressure, low fuel, tire pressure and tire slippage (with TRAC) warning lights
Door open, TRAC off, high beam, hazard and cruise control indicator lights
Scheduled maintenance indicator light
Electronic digital quartz clock, exterior temperature gauge
LCD-type electronic digital twin trip meters and odometer display
Headlights-on indicator in instrument panel
Foglamp indicator
Automatic climate control display: speed and air flow indicators
Revised moonroof switch
Revised instrument panel center cluster
Revised air register design
DC outlet and AUX jack positions changed in console box
Illuminated "TEMP" label on center cluster

Convenience Features
Manual tilt and telescoping adjustable steering wheel
Front center armrest
Dust/pollen interior air filter
Foldable rear headrests
Power windows with auto up/down with jam protection
Power door locks with anti lock-out

Convenience Features ­ cont.
Speed-sensitive, shift-linked automatic door lock/unlock
Retained accessory power for operation of power windows and optional moonroof
Inside auto-dimming electrochromic rearview mirror with compass
Cruise control with available Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
HomeLink programmable garage door opener
Remote trunk lid and fuel-filler door releases
Door courtesy lights, glove box light and trunk light
Front and rear dome light and individual LED map lights integrated into headliner
One front cup holder located behind the shift lever and one cup holder in the center console
Console mounted dual rear cup holders
Covered center console storage box
Cigarette lighter, front ashtray
Articulating assist grips (two front/two rear)
Retractable coat hooks
First Aid kit
Tool kit
Lexus Personalized Settings (LPS) to allow certain electronic settings to be tailored to owner preference (programmable by Lexus dealers)
Scuff plates with white illumination
Sound-absorbing sun visors with vanity mirrors
Illuminated fuel filler and trunk releases
Illuminated outside mirror button controls
Coin holder
Rear armrest with storage box


Lexus Premium Audio system
AM/FM ETR and 6-disc in-dash CD changer
13 speakers
MP3/iPod/WMA audio input plug
Output of 194 watts with 10 high-power amplifier
Digital signal processing with Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL)
Electronic crossover network
Rear glass-imprinted radio antenna with separate FM diversity antenna
Theft-deterrent design


Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
Impact absorbing door and body construction
Driver's and front passenger's airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)
Front and rear side curtain airbags Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)
Front seat-mounted side airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)
Three-point belts for all seating positions, including center rear, front and outboard rear with force-limiting pretensioners; height adjustable front shoulder belt anchors
Automatic Locking Retractor (ALR) and Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) function for all positions except driver (driver's only equipped with ELR)
Front ventilated and rear solid disc brakes (both front and rear ventilated on IS 350) with tandem brake booster and four-sensor, four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA)
Traction Control (TRAC)
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with cut-off switch: standard on IS 250
Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) with cut-off switch: standard on IS 350 and IS 250
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Front and rear door side impact beams
Front and rear energy-managing crumple zones
Collapsible steering column
Impact-dissipating soft upper headliner and pillars
Child Restraint Seat (CRS) top tether anchor brackets (adopted to comply with phase-in of the new CRS Anchorage Points Regulation)

Vehicle theft-deterrent system with engine immobilizer
Remote-activated, SmartAccess-linked illuminated entry (dome-light ring illuminates when doors are unlocked, remains illuminated for 15 seconds or until door is opened)
Headlight-off delay feature (after locking vehicle, headlights remain illuminated for approximately 30 seconds before automatically shutting off)
Multifunction in-key remote
Entry system with lock, two-stage unlock, trunk open and "panic" features, volume-adjustable confirmation tone and rolling code technology

Premium Plus Package (Rear-Wheel Drive models only)
Perforated leather trim
Heated/ventilated seats
Wood interior trim

Luxury Package (RWD models only)
Premium Package features
Outside rear-view mirror functions (electrochromic, memory, reverse tilt-down)
Illuminated scuff plates
Power rear sunshade
Driver's and front passenger's seat memory
HID headlamps with Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS)
Rain-sensing wipers
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with memory
18-inch split five-spoke wheels with A/S tires

Luxury Package (AWD models)
Outside rear-view mirror functions (electrochromic, memory, reverse tilt-down)
Illuminated scuff plates
Power rear sunshade
Driver's and front passenger's seat memory
HID headlamps with Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS)
Rain-sensing wipers
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with memory

Sport Package (RWD models only)
Perforated leather trim
Heated/ventilated seats
Outside rear-view mirror functions (electrochromic, memory, reverse tilt-down)
18" split five-spoke wheels with summer tires
Sport suspension
Sport pedals
Aluminum scuff plates
Driver's and front passenger's seat memory
HID headlamps with Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS)
Rain-sensing wipers
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with memory

X Package (RWD models only)
Sport suspension
Sport pedals
Illuminated aluminum scuff plates
Front lip spoiler
18" five-spoke X-Package wheels with summer tires

Mark Levinson with Navigation
- Navigation System
- Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound system (14 speakers, advanced discrete amplifier design with 300 watts continuous power at less than 0.1% THD, 7.1-channel speaker architecture)

Navigation System
Voice activation
Rear back-up camera
Bluetooth Intuitive Park Assist

HID headlamps with Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS)

Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (A/T only)

Headlamp Washers (requires HID/AFS)

18" Split Five-spoke X-Package Wheels with Summer Tires (rear-wheel drive models only)

Wood Interior Trim (AWD model only)

18-inch split five-spoke wheels with summer or all-season tires (RWD model)

Note: Specifications shown are for all IS models unless otherwise indicated.

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