Like all Lexus sedans, their IS 250 has a relatively smooth, controlled and quiet ride. I say relatively smooth since the IS is intended to be a luxury sports sedan with firmer suspension and stiffer handling. Even as such, it rides better than a lot of comparably priced luxury sedans.Offered in a more powerful 350 version, I found the 204-hp, 2.5L V6 in the 250 to be exceptionally fast and quick; not to mention miserly with its 20 city, 26 highway mpg EPA rating. And this is with a 6 speed electronically controlled (ECT) automatic transmission (w/paddle shifters) and Electronic Throttle Control. Both the 250 and 350 have the distinction of sharing commonality with Lexus' new and super hot IS-F sports sedan that belts out a whopping 416 hp from its V8 power plant and 8-speed automatic transmission.

Lexus luxury abounds inside the IS 250. Perforated leather seats are exceptionally supportive, comfy and the ones in my test vehicle had heating and cooling capability. All HVAC controls were easy to operate as are all the electronics including a touch screen GPS Nav system. The only shortcomings are marginal back seat room for tall folks. And the comfy rear seats do not split and fold to increase trunk space. There's merely a pass-through for long items like skis or fly fishing rods. Two golf bags can fit but long clubs must be removed and stowed outside and atop the bags.

The IS does not want for safety features. Standard are ABS, traction/stability control, front/side/full length side and knee airbags, Brake Force Distribution, tire pressure monitoring and of course All Wheel Drive for added traction.

With Lexus' Smart Access, the ignition is keyless with push button starting that takes me back to some cars of yesteryear - minus the keyless benefit.

Luxury items are too extensive to list as they number 17 in total or every amenity you could ever desire. The only options on my car were high-intensity adaptive headlamps - the kind that follow the curve in the road - ($875), heated/cooled seats ($850), XM radio ($486) and mats ($197). If you crave more, thereís a pre-collision system complete with radar cruise control that detects obstacles in front of the car. If so, the computer stiffens the suspension, retracts the front seatbelts and pre-initializes the brakes for quicker braking time. With all this, the Institute for Highway Safety gave the IS a 'Good' rating in frontal and side impact tests.

Packaged as it is, the IS 250 goes up against the likes of BMWs 328i, Audi A4, Infinity G35 plus a few more. But it can hold its own for superb handling, performance and ride. All for a comparable price of $37,258 with delivery. Scrub the extra cost goodies and the IS 250 is yours for $34,085 plus $765 delivery. A lot of sophisticated car for the money.

A lifelong resident of Lehigh County, Nick Hromiak has been writing about cars and trucks for 21 years. Having worked part time at an automobile dealership while in his teens, he was about to be accepted into GM's design program when he was drafted by the US Army in 1965 during the Vietnam Conflict. His love of cars evolved into penning weekly automotive reviews. Hromiak was a long-time outdoor and automotive writer for The Free Press while under past owners. He is a member of International Motor Press Association and has been published in several national magazines and weekly newspapers.

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