Lexus IS (2IS) | The Perfect First Car?



So... You finally earned your driver's license and you've been doing well in school, so mom and dad are willing to lend you a generous $10,000 to purchase a clean, reliable first car. I bet you've been frantically searching for these cars on Craigslist: Nissan 350z/Infiniti G35, E92 BMW 335i, S197 Mustang GT, Subaru WRX. 

After doing some optimistic research, mom hits you with, "Honey, you need to have four doors," and dad tops it off with, "NO STICK SHIFT". Bummer. You had already saved up money to modify your first car and hard-park in your school parking lot. I'm here to tell you that there is still hope.

It's a Lexus, so dad will be satisfied with the reliability and build quality. Mom will be impressed by the smooth ride and the decent highway MPG. The second-generation Lexus IS is one of the most sought after used cars on the market and is so for a very good reason. 

The “2IS” design seamlessly blends the bold, futuristic elements of the newer Lexus cars and the clean, conservative canvas of the older ones. Those OG Lexus fans who are irritated by the huge spindle grilles and super aggressive fascias found in the current Lexus lineup will find this vehicle’s design to be refreshingly nostalgic, yet contemporary. The interior is well-appointed, with plush leather and soft-touch materials everywhere. At the time, the IS was undoubtedly the most loaded car in its class. Heated AND ventilated seats, power rear sunshade, a bangin' Mark Levinson audio system, and touch-screen infotainment were offered since 2006 (our demo had every single one checked off). From an enthusiast standpoint, the higher-trim IS350 is desirable because of the 2GR-FSE motor. The 3.5L V6 produces a stout 306hp and 277lb-ft of torque which hauls the 3,600lb IS to 60 in 5 seconds flat. Aside from the surprising performance, the 2GR series Toyota engine is known for its long-term reliability and ultra-low maintenance cost. 

[Pro-Tip: The 4GR-FSE engine found in the entry level IS250 uses direct fuel injection, which causes excessive carbon buildup in the intake head ports. Consequently, a walnut-blast or similar valve-cleaning service must be performed every so often. The 350’s 2GR utilizes both direct AND port injection (Toyota’s D4-S system) which allows fuel to clean the intake ports; thus, eliminating the carbon buildup and decreasing the cost to maintain.]

[Pro-Tip: Don't drive this car in "manual" mode. You will be VERY disappointed.]

Handling in the IS is OK. The steering feel is vague, but response is accurate. Lots of body roll combined with a loosely-bolstered seat makes it difficult to push the car to its mechanical limit. Thankfully, the IS is backed by a decent enthusiast following which translates to a wide variety of aftermarket support (cat-back exhausts, adjustable suspension arms, turn key forced-induction kits, you name it). Spending your extra dough on the correct aftermarket components will not only increase your IS’s capabilities, but transform the driving experience to a truly exciting and enjoyable one. So what are you waiting for?

At last, mom and dad are content with your responsible and sensible decision. More importantly, you can still live your high-school dream.


Featured car: 

2008 Lexus IS350

  • -19" Stance SF01 (staggered setup)
  • -Tein Street Advance coilovers
  • -Hankook Ventus V12 Evo2
  • -Custom axle back exhaust w/ carbon fiber mufflers
  • -Vland smoked red tail lights

 Klassewerks’ $0.02:

  •  Mod #1: Coilovers (w/ adjustable dampening)
  • Mod #2: Catback exhaust
  • Mod #3: Intake system (true cold-air OR short-ram w/ heat shield)
  • Mod #4: Wheels/tires (wider front contact patch)
  • Mod #5+: Aero/exterior upgrades of your choice!

Contact us here to get your car/truck done right!





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