Lexus IS 350 2020 Philippines Review: A perfect balance of luxury and speed

Updated Jun 07, 2021

User's: 5.0/5
Does the 3rd-generation IS still have the same amount of street cred? Read on the in-depth Lexus IS 350 2020 Philippines review to find out!

In this review...

  1. Introduction
  2. Exterior
  3. Interior
  4. Engine & Performance
  5. Safety Features
  6. Specsheet
  7. Conclusion

1. Lexus IS 350 2020 Philippines Review: Introduction

The Lexus IS. It’s the only Lexus vehicle that penetrated the car modification scene in the 90’s and even made its way to Need For Speed: Most Wanted as the 2nd Blacklist racer’s car.

It’s third-generation continued this trend of being attractive to a more youthful crowd through many marketing partnerships like with the Tony Hawk Foundation, with DeviantART (thank God nothing weird happened), and even with Huy Fong Foods (the makers of Sriracha).

This makes the IS one of the most marketed Lexus models ever. And yes, the IS, as the Altezza, made a significant appearance in Initial D, one of the pillars of contemporary car culture.

A picture of the Altezza in a car meet

Even today, the Altezza and is loved by thousands of car enthusiasts all over the world

And guess what, it’s obvious that those efforts had paid off. Many street racers, real racers, and car enthusiasts in general adore it. Local car guys until today are even known to still appreciate it very much (lust over it).

Before digging in deeper though, let’s get into a bit of history.

Initially known as the Altezza in Japan, the IS was introduced way back in 1998 as a more affordable, albeit smaller alternative to the Lexus ES.

For its first generation, it was known as the IS 300 and some of its variants famously had the same inline-6 as the Toyota Supra, the great 2JZ-GE. Also, it came in two variants, a sedan and a wagon.  

2020 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport Review | BLACK LINE EDITION

It wasn’t until the second-generation IS 250 and the IS 350 when it got a V6 engine. There was a V8 version on the IS F which is absent on the current iteration of that model.

Nowadays, as more and more cars getting greener, Lexus rolled out the hybrid 350h on top of the base IS 350 and the IS 350 F Sport. While the latter two are available here, the 350h and the top of the line 350h F Sport, which is currently being sold in Japan, in the U.S., Europe and other international markets, is still not available here in the Philippines.

So…does the IS still have the reputation of being the “young person’s Lexus” or has it turned into a boomer mobile like most of the Lexus line-up? Let’s find out in our full-scale Lexus IS 350 Philippines review, brought by

A picture of the IS 350 travelling on a city road

Did it become your grandpappy's car? Or does it still have clout among car nerds?

2. Lexus IS 350 2020 Exterior

Exterior Features
Head Lamps
Head Lamp Leveling
With (Auto-leveling)
Daytime Running Lights
Tail Lamps
Rear Fog lamps
Power Moon Roof
Tilt and Slide Moon Roof (IS 350 F-Sport)
Tires and Wheels
Fr and Rr: 225/24 R17 Aluminum Alloy
Side Mirrors
Auto Retractable Electrochromic w/ Heater and Memory Functions

On the outside, the Lexus IS has definitely…matured. Just compare the 1999 IS 200 to 2020 IS 350 and you’ll think that these two were built by totally different companies.

This is a good thing though because the old IS 200 pretty much looked like an up-market Toyota. With the present-day iteration, it’s pretty much a car on its own which to some extent, even managed to stand apart from its more expensive Lexus brothers.

A picture of the Lexus IS 350 parked on a dock

It's definitely much serious-looking compared to its older siblings

On the front, there’s the unmistakably 2020 Lexus IS 350 exterior feature which is the “spindle grille”. In comparison to other Lexus cars, it’s a bit more subdued due to the being “tighter” at the top and wider at the bottom. Now, this feature is the most polarizing thing found on most modern Lexus models. Some folk like it, others (most probably fans of the old IS 200 and 300) do not.

Towards the side, we can say that the current, 2020 IS 350’s roofline, and overall silhouette is probably what links it to the 1st-generation IS 200 the most. It’s slender, stylish, and yet it subtly gives you hints of athleticism with the low ground clearance and the tight gap between the tires and the fenders.

2020 Lexus IS 350 rear view

Those tail-lights look like they want to leave the rear of the car

If we talk about the rear…well. The rear end is what saddens us because of the IS 200, a.k.a. the Altezza, was and currently is, famous for its stylish tail-lights. It even came to the point that other cars, those particularly owned by car enthusiasts, begun to emulate Altezza tail-lights.

With the current model IS 350 however, Lexus had given it an LED pair devoid of chrome and wrapping towards the sides, reaching the rear wheel arches. Sure, it works, is contemporary looking and has a decent amount of style but it’s not as iconic as Altezza lights.

For us, the Lexus IS 350 in its entirety is decent a looking executive car. For the Altezza fanboy, their opinions might be different.


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3. Lexus IS 350 2020: Interior

On the inside, the IS 350 like any Lexus is flat out luxurious. The all the seats and many of the interior surfaces like the center console and the dash are clad in soft-touch leather, and there’s ample room in the rear seats regardless of the front seat’s position.

Sure, there are spots of plastic bits here and there but those also feel high-quality.

A picture of the Lexus IS 350;s interior

Yep, this is where the "luxury" in the Luxury compact sedan steps in

What caught our eye though is the fancy looking analog clock positioned in-between the front air-con vents. Call us old-fashioned but we really like it.

Also, the entertainment system is still capable of playing CDs. Is this a call out to their older customers? Maybe, maybe not. While that may be the case, it’s still a modern system capable of handling Bluetooth, and voice recognition.

>>> You might like to read: Sedan cars in the Philippines | Example of the most affordable and most fuel-efficient

A picture of the analog clock inside the Lexus IS 350

Lexus IS 350 interior: Soooo faaaaawwwnncyyy!!!

All in all, the IS 350, despite being marketed as a luxury car, is still very much a driver’s car. Why? Well only the driver has access to a better seat (both front seats are 8-way electronically adjustable but only the driver seat has memory function) and many of the buttons, like for the AC vents and the drive mode dial are still physical, tactile feeling ones.

This fact is even more apparent in the F-Sport variant due to its perforated Sport leather steering wheel, and its F-Sport LCD Meter which provides a driver useful data like RPMs, exterior ambient temperature, fuel mileage, tire pressure monitor, a gear and drive mode indicator and many more useful things.

4. Lexus IS 350 2020 Review: Engine & Performance

Under the hood of the Lexus IS 350 2020 and the F Sport is a V6 DOHC Dual VVT-I with D-4S capable of making 312 horsepower and 378 Nm of torque. For the IS 350, power is sent to the rear through an eight-speed sequential-shift automatic whilst the IS 350 F Sport has all-wheel-drive.

While the F Sport and the base model shares the same type of suspension (double wishbone for the front and multi-link of the rear), the F-Sport has more in the way of variability due to its Adaptive Variable Suspension system.

5. Lexus IS 350 2020 Philippines: Safety Features

For safety, the Lexus IS 350 has just about the same number of features with the F-Sport. Both have hill-start assist, ABS with EBD, stability control, a traction control system that you can toggle on or off, rain-sensing wipers, a vehicle dynamics integrated management system, and child seats.

For passive equipment, both variants have dual front airbags, dual front knee airbags, front side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags.

2020 Lexus IS 350 safety features

Lexus IS 350 receives 5-star rating for safety

>>> Visit our Cars for sale section to get the best deal.

6. Lexus IS 350 Philippines Specs

3rd-generation Lexus IS 350 (XE30)
Lexus IS 350 (XE 30)
Compact Executive Car
Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive and front-engine/all-wheel-drive (350 F Sport)
Dimensions (LXWXH)
4,680 mm x 1,810 mm x 1,430 mm
V6 Dual DOHC VVT-I with D-4S
8-speed sequential-Shift AT/
Starting price P2,788,000

>>> View full Lexus Philippines price list to keep updated the lastest changes in the pricing of all Lexus models

7. Lexus IS 350 2020 Philippines Review: Conclusion

To conclude, let’s provide you the answer to that question we posited on the intro; did the IS evolve into an old person’s car? Or is it still desired by young folks? Well…that depends.

Sure, the IS 350 XE30 is still a capable vehicle with the kind of power that it’s capable of making but then again, there’s the price; Php 2,948,000 for the entry level model.

For that kind of dough, you can get a 2020 Mazda Miata or a 2020 Toyota 86 with some left-over cash for a wide body kit or a set of coil-overs.

A picture of the IS 350 F-Sport

Sure there's the IS 350 F-Sport but the Lexus F Marque is totally on another level

And lastly, Lexus now has a whole model-lineup dedicated for the performance called the F which is made up of the very nimble RC F and the spacious but agile GS F.

So yeah, while the IS 350 is still very much a desirable Lexus, it looks like it lost its street cred along the way. But again, there are now more alternatives than ever before.

So, who’s the target market for 2020 IS 350? Well, take a look at the vehicle class it belongs to. That’s right…executives.

>>> Related: Lexus IS for sale at affordable prices on Philkotse

Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar G.B. Miguel


Cesar Guiderone B. Miguel was born and raised in Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology. He previously worked as a freelance writer for various websites, as a member of the Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management's training staff, and as a medical sales representative.


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