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Lexus IS 250/IS 350 driving experience in the snow

I replaced my 2006 IS 350 with a 2007 model after the first one was destroyed bu a dump truck.I was lucky to escape unscathed ( the car was written off ) Although I have recurring flashbacks. I Have had the 2007 model since November. I love this car. The space is tight at the back but my 2 teenagers don't seem to mind. So far the car has met my expectations. Today we had a heavy snowfall, hail. freezing rain...u name it.The car felt extremeely well balnced, the vdim kicked in a number of times to help out and then I figured out I had a snow button and it even got better. I don't believe you need all wheel drive after all. I am not sure howvever how the IS 250 withtout the VDIM would perform, it still has other safety systems I believe. I am curious. The one thing I hate about my IS is a lack of sun visor extender. My old ES 300 had it. I hope they remedy this in the future.


  • cstone558,

    This season, there hasn't been much snow here in New England, lucky me! After reading your post, I feel less concerned about driving my IS 350 in the snow. Thanks! Anyway, I've been driving my old Toyota in bad weather just because I don't wanna get my IS dirty. ;) Did you check out the new '08 400-hp IS-F on the Lexus website? The same gorgeous lines with a more aggressive look!
  • Hello maxidrive,

    OH yes the IS 350 really is that good in the snow and I did worry about this when I first pruechased the car because I had people telling me that rear wheel drive cars are pigs in the snow. What's interesting is that both people making that statement had the nice looking RX-8 from Mazda. I was really shocked that the IS 350 performed so competently. Don't you find the lack of a sun visor extender irritating. I have experienced a lot of dust build up on the rims like a lot of other owners. Did u get the spoiler for your IS? I am still not sure if it adds or takes away from the sheer natural beauty of the IS 350
  • OH I forgot ...yes the IS-F looks really menacing...I wonder about the price tag..although the IS 350 represents really good value.
  • I rarely use the sun visor extender, so the lack of it doesn't bother me much. The extensive brake dust on the front wheels does irritate me, a lot! I usually just wipe it off with some wax in wintertime after a few trips and in summertime everytime after I go out. Just a lotta work! No, I didn't get the spoiler which I think would actually spoil the looks of the IS.">
  • The IS-F will be in the low $50K, out of my price range! Love its looks and power, though!
  • mldj98mldj98 Posts: 378
    What types of tires were you running on your IS350's?
    Snow tires I assume, correct?
  • maxidrivemaxidrive Posts: 70
    No, the ones that came with the car.
  • Yes I definitely used snow tires. It would be a mistake not to. By the way I am getting 9.5 km per 100 km for fuel consumption - not sure what that translates into mpg but it's got to be close to 27mpg.
  • mldj98mldj98 Posts: 378
    Wow! If I am not mistaken, just about all IS350's come equipped with the 18" Rims and summer tires. Although Lexus says that the 18" rims and summer tires are an option, just try and find a dealer that has just the standard 17" tires.
    I tried many, many Lexus dealers, they all said the same thing, unless you place a special order, which would take 90-120 days, the summer tires and rims are the way they come equipped.
    Having said all that, do you have the 18" rims and summer tires on your IS350?
  • Yes it's true. they do come with standard with 18 inch rims but those are for summer driving. I changed over to 17ich rims and the accompanying snow tires for the winter - a fairly expensive option especially if u want to have decent looking rims even for winter. I guess u could get 18 inch snow tires but i was advised that tjhe smaller tires perform better in the snow and also you won't have to be changing tires that often on the 18 inch rims if u get the 17 inchers.This will help extend the life of the 18 inch rims which can get damaged if u are constantly switching tires.
  • I'm confused about the technology behind the various AWD options. I guess the best AWD in snow is Subaru's? Does anybody know how the Lexus IS 250 might compare? Thanks.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    I'm sure the IS250 will be fine in the snow.

    A lot depends on the tires on the vehicle. For example the Subaru STI, spec.B and ('09) WRX come with summer performance tires. So while they do have AWD, they will do poorly in snow until you replace the tires with either all-season tires or better still, snow tires.

  • A friend and I both bouth IS models (we both live in snow belts). She bought a rear wheel drive model - I have bought an AWD. Chating with her, she says that without 4 snow tires, her IS cas a "pig" to quote her. I plan on putting on 4 winter tires on my AWD and hope it is like a little tractor this winter! :)
  • great cars these are as far as your brake dust problem i went to the dealer and complained and they changed out my brakes with new pads brake dust gone under warranty
  • gotoyotagotoyota Posts: 280
    Hi all,
    I used to post a little here at Edmunds but I haven't for a little while and I just thought I'd check in to see how the IS does in the snow, so I'm pleased that what I have read thus far is generally positive. I decided it was finally time to replace my trusty old '97 Maxima a little while back and bought an '08 IS350. Mine is silver on black with chrome rims and has the luxury pkg with the ML audio (wow) and the wood trim, nav with back-up cam, etc...etc...I am still geeking out over it. I LOVE the power and I'm very happy with the mileage I can get (when I try). I think it's really fun how it eggs people on even when you're not doing anything to provoke them - seems they just want a shot a keeping up with this beast. My friend has an '07 WRX STi, and I honestly think my car could at least keep up with his. Off the line, no contest, unless you rev the STi up to 5k and dump the clutch. STi is a great car, but this car really suits me. So far, no complaints with mine. I love everything about it. I guess the only minor niggle I have is with the traction control. I had read about it in the car mags and didn't really notice until I had it a couple weeks, but it is pretty aggressive. Accelerating from a stop into a turn (such as when leaving the parking lot at the grocery store) will often cause it to step in when I don't want it to, like the other night when a goofball in a new Civic Si thought he was going to show me up and I wanted to show him what a really, truly fast car can do..but the TC kicked in, somewhat reducing the shock and awe of my design to pass him like he was standing still and I think it ended up giving him an artificial confidence boost ;) and I was just sure he went and told his friends how he almost kept up with and IS350, even though I started out behind him and he started accelerating at least 1 sec before I did as we were making left hand turns exiting the parking lot and accelerating into traffic. Had I been able to use all 306 ponies from the get-go, it would have been much more embarrasing for him, I'm sure. I still passed him easily, of course, but not as quickly as it would have been. Annoying. I have tried switching TC off, but when I accelerate up to speed it comes back on. Is that normal?? Is there a trick to make it stay off when you don't want it? If not, I can live with it, I'll just have to modulate the power with my right foot so as not to engage the nanny. Anyway, my wife giggles every time we go somewhere in it (it's a far different driving experience from her Sienna). She has driven it once and the power scared her. YES! Gotta love that, he he. I try not to be a brat on the road but it's hard. I just feel funny, seeing how I'm a 36 yr old father of 5 kids in a respectable profession, etc., when this car turns me into a kid and forces me to spank the tires off of somebody fool enough to try to get ahead of me :blush: Also looked at '08 G35x, which I was actually intent on buying when I started my quest. I was really disappointed in the G35. I looked at a couple of '07's to see how they were holding up and they just didn't have the same robust feel of the IS, nor did the engine feel as potent and it sounded like a truck engine by comparison. I also considered the Acura TL-S, but never got around to driving one, I was that smitten with the IS. I'm sure the TL-S would have been a nice car, too, but I don't like Honda's affinity for gutless bottom end with all the power up at the top of the rev range. Plus the acceleration numbers didn't look as impressive for the TL-S and I was sick of front wheel drive. All told, I am absolutely happy with my purchase and would welcome any discussion/feedback from other IS owners. Just don't tell me anything bad! I'm still on the honeymoon ;)
  • gotoyotagotoyota Posts: 280
    My IS350 has the 17 inchers. I didn't even realize 350's came that way until I went shopping and the other IS350's all had the 18's but the one I bought has the chrome-look polished 17's. It looks beautiful and they do a fine job filling out the wheel wells. We'll see how they do in the snow.
  • Hope everyone's enjoying their IS 350. mine now has 107,000 KM ( just about 2 years ) I had driver's side mirror replaced ( it was acting up ) but under warranty. Otherwise no other problems. The good looks on this car seem to want to last forever. It will be tough for Lexus to come out with an even nicer design in 3 years time. They'll do it though. Oh I forgot - one other thing - on Start up there would be a little rumbling noise ( It has a timing chain ) I mentioned this to the service dept a few times then I got a call from them to come in. Apparently they did a fix for it ( other owners were complaining ) and I have never heard that noise since. Mine is a 2007 model acquired in Novemeber 2006 so later models should not have this problem. - hopefully
  • ....... how the IS does in the snow.......

    Crappy, especially if there is 4 inches or more ...... get excellent snows!!!

  • I've owned my '06 250 awd for 2 1/2 yrs and 40K miles now. This will be my 3rd winter driving it. The car has been exceptionally good in snowy conditions, in my opinion. Obviously, driving on snow in a AWD car is completely different than in a rear wheel drive car (e.g. IS350). The Lexus/Toyota awd system with limited slip diff. is excellent and in dry weather when you don't notice any difference to a rear wheel drive car. The 250 is obviously less performance oriented than the 350 in dry weather. However, the 250 has plenty of power off the line on wet and snowy roads allowing you to get out in front of other drivers who want to run into you (and it's no sloutch on dry pavement either). Starting out on slick roads requires less initial torque and improved by using the "SnowMode" button to change the shift points of the tranny. I have a steep driveway which has been covered with as much as 10 in. of snow and the car just plows through it with confidence. The brakes are very responsive, but of course any AWD car "goes" better than it "stops" on slick surfaces. So, you have to be careful with the extra confidence you gain while driving awd cars.
    Choosing the appropriate tires is exceedingly important in snow. Dedicated snow tires would be necessary with a rear drive car in most snowy climates but don't seem to be needed with most AWD autos, in my experience. I just replaced the oem Dunlop tires with new Michelin Pilot Sports (all season performance tires). So far the Michelins are performing better than the Dunlops.
    While living in the "snow belt", the 250 AWD has convinced me that awd is the safest (and most fun) way to drive in the winter. If I lived in a warmer/dryer climate I would probably prefer the IS 350.
  • gotoyotagotoyota Posts: 280
    Ahem...I said don't tell me anything bad! ;)

    Well, I can't say I was expecting it to be a good snow performer, that's just a trade off I was willing to accept for the dry weather performance. So far we have had a very mild winter - in the 50's for the most part, with very little precip. My 17" all season's are still fresh so I have not had any tire issues yet, but when the snow starts to fall I will definately be getting some good snows. Thanks for the feedback. Does winder mode seem to make a big difference in your experience? It feels like it saps about 150 hp when you switch it on. That has to help, right?
  • Are you sure the IS 350 has a timing chain? I have just asked my local lexus dealership and they say that the 2006 IS 350 has a timing belt not chain.
  • Does winder mode seem to make a big difference in your experience? It feels like it saps about 150 hp when you switch it on. That has to help, right?

    To my knowledge, the "Snow mode" toggle switch readjusts the transmission shift points. It's meant to be used when driving on snow or ice or other slick pavement conditions. So the car will start out in 2nd gear. While this sounds counter-intuitive to typical dry surface driving, this reduces the amount of torque to the wheels and limits the amount of " tire slip" that occurs when starting from a stop. This feels like the car has less power initially but when you get up to speed there shouldn't be any difference. Along with traction control, vehicle skid control, and VDEM the Snow mode switch adds another set of electronic adjustments to provide more control and safety. Some drivers refer to them as "nanny controls" and want to turn the controls off, but if you spend much time driving on snow and ice, it's good to have a bunch of auto engineer "nannies" helping out, in my opinion.
  • gotoyotagotoyota Posts: 280
    Thanks for the post. I have to admit I have not tried watching the shift indicator when in snow mode to see if it is starting in 2nd but I know this is a method used to control torque in slippery situations. I am still convinced it actually does something to cut the power output as well. I have switched it on while driving on the freeway and it feels like the car suddenly gains about 1500 pounds. You can still make it accelerate briskly if you nail it with snow mode on, but to me it doesn't seem nearly as brisk as it does in PWR mode or normal mode. Even my lunch companions can feel the power change. Also, throttle tip in is dramatically changed - much softer, like our Sienna, actually. Sort of Jeckle and Hyde-ish. Anyway, I would still like the ability to REALLY switch off the TC during dry weather situations, but it's probably better for me that I can't do it - I'd just get into trouble or burn thru tires too quickly anyway.

    Incidentally, I drove in a snow storm on Sunday and it surprised me with it's foul weather capability. Of course, I did not take any steep inclines or anything like that, but did take it up perhaps a 20% grade that did not present any difficulty for the TC and VSC to manage. Of course, I think since mine has the 17's and all weather tires it probably helps. I stopped by the dealer last week and realized my tires have a lot more meat on them than do the 18's. Anyway, I worked from home today so I did not get a chance to try it over a long stretch of snow packed roads but I will most likely have that opportunity tomorrow...not that I'm looking forward to it. If I hadn't permanently loaned my old Maxima out to a relative I would certainly drive that instead, but oh well. I get sort of stir crazy if I don't take the IS out at least once a day anyway. I just love this car :blush:
  • A couple of days ago was the first real snow of the season where I live and there is no polite language to describe how poorly my Lexus IS 250 AWD handled in the snow. A few inches of snow on the road and the car was all over the place.

    I have contacted Lexus regarding how disappointed I am in the car's performance and handling in snow. I really wanted a car that could handle snow and this is not it. It handled so poorly that I do not have confidence that 4 good winter tires would make it safe enough in snow. The AWD badge is on the car but, it handles like RWD. Perhaps the AWD does not work on the car.

    Could the problem be inadequate tires? The car only has 5300 miles on it. How can they sell an AWD car with tires that are so bad in snow? The car in no way compares to Audi or even Subaru performance in the snow. I even had someone else take it out for a ride in the snow and they confirmed how bad it was.

    I am looking into good snows or just trading the car. I have owned the car less than six months so a trade would be a financial loss. However, I have to drive to work in bad weather and I need to feel secure in my vehicle. It was a lot of money to spend for a car that feels like a sled in snow.
  • I also bought the IS 250 AWD about 6 months ago. I put 4 good winter tires on it and it is like a little tractor in the snow. I am very impressed. Since it looks like we are going t ohave loads of snow again this winter, I am feeling confident that I will have no problem getting around.
  • That is good to hear. I will probably get new snows this week - I don't have much choice. I can't afford the financial hit getting rid of this car would take on my wallet. This may be naive but, I am surprised that Lexus sells the IS 250 AWD with tires that are so bad in snow. My primary reason for spending the extra $ for a Lexus was for their supposed safety and security. I did not feel safe at all driving this in the snow last week. My Camry was better in the snow than this car. I would not buy a Lexus again.
  • Wow I am considering this IS250 AWD and to hear that it isn't good in the snow is bad. Are you guys talking about the AS tires or does it only come in summer tires? I was thinking AS tires with AWD should be able to do well in snow?
  • The tires that came with my IS 250 AWD are marked all season. They are not adequate for much more than a dusting of snow. Our household has had AWD Subaru and Audi passenger cars (not SUVS) and the orginal equipment tires were adequate for normal winter driving conditions. I am talking suburban roads not mountain roads. Lexus does its customers a disservice with the original equipment tires on the IS 250 AWD and I have learned that the hard way.
    When you are on the sales floor they will tell you "the car drives like a tank". It probably will - once you spend $800 on good winter tires.
  • Wow is it really that bad? I bought my IS250 AWD 6 months ago and this is the first winter I have with this car. It was snowing hard last night and on my way home - I slipped once when driving thru a downhill. Is it normal as I might have passed black ice or something..I was having the "Snow Mode" on.
    Other than that, it took me home safely without any problem. I didn't use any winter tired, just original 4 season ones.
    Did you check with your Lexus dealer? You should asked the sale who sold this car to you taking a test drive in the snow :P
    Since this winter, I've had 2 experiences with car slipped on the road or couldn't stopped - and both time i had "snow mode" on - is this has anything to do with it?
  • This is my third "winter" driving the IS AWD. Mine has 42K mi now and I have a 25-75mi daily commute in a northern metro area. I am pleased with how the car handles in the snow. I am able to accelerate better than most anyone from a stop and it goes up my steep driveway with fresh snow better than any sedan I've owned. Not quite as good as AWD SUV because of more ground clearance and deeper tread on the SUVs. I recently replaced the oem Dunlop (a/s) with Michelin Pilot Sport A/S tires, and have driven about 2K miles on these tires. They are better than the Dunlops. Better traction and cornering in snow. Quieter on concrete streets and a bit softer ride. ( IS has a stiff suspension, and the new tires help ). I'm sure dedicated snow tires would give even more confidence on snow/ice, but the Mich a/s are fine for me. ( check out ).
    I too have owned Toyota Avalon, Camry, Audi S4000, Volvo 240 and this car is far better than those in the snow, imo.
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