Which 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport Options Are Worth the Price?

2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport option price guide highlights:

  • A base 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport starts at $44,900 before destination; my test car stickered at $57,015 before destination
  • The higher price tag stems from multiple options, most of which are worth what they cost, though the moonroof and triple-LED headlights can be skipped
  • If you want a sportier sedan experience, consider getting the IS 350 F Sport without AWD, though those in harsher climates will find it worth the price

‘Reliable luxury for less’ might be an unofficial Lexus mantra. Not only do its passenger cars and SUVs regularly earn low-ownership cost awards, but they often cost less than their European rivals when new. Still, as with other cars, it’s not difficult to balloon a Lexus’s sticker, even if it’s an entry-level IS 350. So, if you’re spending money on a 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport, which options are worth the bigger price tag?

How much does the 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport cost?

A silver 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport in a gray studio
2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport | Lexus

Although the IS sedan is the cheapest entry into the Lexus brand, the IS 350 isn’t the cheapest IS. That’s the IS 300, which in 2021 spec starts at $39,050. However, it’s not available in F Sport trim. In other words, starting in 2021, the IS 350 became the cheapest F Sport model with a $42,950 starting price.

That’s the base price for a rear-wheel-drive model, though. Like the IS 300, the IS 350 F Sport has optional AWD, which my test vehicle had. That bumps the starting price up to $44,900 before destination.

My 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport, though, had a $58,040 sticker price. Take off the $1025 destination and you’re left with a $57,015 MSRP. But then, my car had quite a few options on it.

What comes standard on the 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport?

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While the base IS also has a 3.5-liter V6, the 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport has the 311-hp version. RWD models have eight-speed automatics, while AWD models like mine have six-speed automatics.

All 2021 Lexus IS models come standard with the following features:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Keyless entry with push-button start
  • LED headlights, taillights, daytime running lights
  • Auto-dimming heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lights
  • Backup camera
  • Paddle shifters
  • Nuluxe synthetic leather interior trim
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Electrochromic rearview mirror
  • Analog clock
  • Exterior temperature gauge
  • First-aid kit
  • Deodorizing & pollen-removing cabin air filter
  • DC, AUX, and USB outlets in the center console
  • Programmable garage door opener
  • 8” touchscreen infotainment with touchpad
    • Apple CarPlay
    • Android Auto
    • Amazon Alexa
    • Bluetooth
    • HD Radio and Sirius XM compatibility
    • CD player
  • 10-speaker Pioneer audio system
  • 4.2” gauge-cluster-mounted digital display
  • Lexus Safety System+ 2.5
    • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
    • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Adaptive headlights
  • Tire pressure monitoring
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert

Because my test car had AWD, it came standard with heated front seats. And because I had a 2021 IS 350 F Sport, it had some extra standard features:

  • F Sport suspension tuning
  • 19” alloy wheels
  • F Sport bumpers, spoiler, grille, and exhaust tips
  • Heated and leather-trimmed F Sport steering wheel
  • LFA-style 8” TFT instrument bezel
  • Heated and ventilated front sports seats
  • 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support
  • Four-way adjustable headrests

In addition, the F Sport model has three exclusive color options: Infrared and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0. And while the IS 300 and 350 both offer black interiors, while the IS 300 also offers Rioja Red and Glazed Caramel, the F Sport has Circuit Red and White.

My test car’s options

A side view of a silver 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport with Dynamic Handling Package next to a snowy forest
2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport with Dynamic Handling Package side | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

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As noted earlier, my 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport tester had a few options, hence its higher price tag:

  • F Sport Dynamic Handling Package ($3800)
    • Adaptive suspension
    • Extra driving modes (Sport S, Sport S+, Custom)
    • 19” BBS alloy wheels
    • Carbon-fiber rear spoiler
    • Ash interior and steering-wheel trim
    • SmartAccess key card
    • Limited-slip differential (RWD only)
  • Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package ($2750)
    • Navigation Package
      • 10.3” touchscreen
      • Voice commands
      • Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation and Destination Assist
    • Mark Levinson Audio Package
      • Mark Levinson 17-speaker, 1800-watt Premium Surround Sound audio system
      • Machined-aluminum control knobs
  • Intuitive Parking Assist with Panoramic View Monitor ($1400)
  • Triple-beam LED headlights ($1250)
  • Power moonroof ($1100)
  • Illuminated trunk sill ($450)
  • Iridium premium paint ($425)
  • Illuminated door sills ($425)
  • All-weather floor liner and trunk tray ($290)
  • Door edge guards ($140)
  • Rear bumper applique ($85)

My test car was equipped roughly the same way as the IS 350 AWD F Sport my colleague drove earlier. But instead of an all-black interior, my car had Circuit Red upholstery.

Which options should you spend money on?

I can’t speak to the value of all the options on my IS 350, as some are cosmetic. So, if you like the illuminated sills or specific paint color, you do you. However, if I was shopping for a 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport, I’d spec it almost like my test car.

Firstly, the IS 350 F Sport’s Mark Levinson audio system is absolutely worth the price of entry. Regardless of what music you’re playing, it sounds crisp, clear, and rich. And while the Navigation Package is available separately, it’s easier to get it bundled.

Secondly, if you’re a driving enthusiast, consider the Dynamic Handling Package a required upgrade. The adaptive suspension gives you sharp handling in the corners without sacrificing straight-line compliance. Meanwhile, the sportier driving modes turn the steering from ‘good’ to ‘great fun,’ making it heavier and more responsive without sacrificing its solid feedback. And I never got tired of looking at that LFA-style bezel. To paraphrase MotorTrend, it’s a gimmick, but it’s the chuckle-inducing kind of gimmick.

Furthermore, the ash wood elevates the IS 350 F Sport interior’s luxury status. It not only looks classy, but you can feel the grain on the dash, doors, and steering wheel. Also, the Circuit Red interior color is a no-cost option I urge everyone to take. It adds some much-needed color and a suitably sporty edge, too.

My ‘ideal’ 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport would have a lower price tag, though, because it wouldn’t have the moonroof or triple-LED headlights. The former cuts into the available headroom, which is pretty limited if you’re over six feet tall. In addition, the triple-LED headlights actually slightly lower the IS’s safety score, Autotrader says. However, I would pay for the Parking Assist with Panoramic Monitor, as it was genuinely helpful on Chicago’s narrow streets and in tight parking lots.

Is getting the 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport with AWD worth the price?

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There’s one more option that I might consider removing from my hypothetical 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport, though: AWD. That’s not because it’s bad, mind you. It helped me quickly catch any slides that happened—accidentally or on purpose—on snowy roads. And it helps put the V6’s power down more effectively for more predictable handling.

However, the AWD system also comes with a six-speed automatic and no LSD. Admittedly, in normal conditions, the six-speed transmission is suitably smooth and reasonably quick. But even in Sport S+ mode using the paddle shifters, it’s still not responsive enough. The eight-speed automatic is better in that regard, MT reports. In addition, with the Dynamic Handling Package, RWD models don’t need more driven wheels to be fun and easy to control, MT adds.

Ultimately, deciding to pay the extra price for AWD on a Lexus IS 350 F Sport depends on where and how you drive. If you live somewhere with regular snow, ice, and other low-traction conditions, it’s worth considering. But if you want more sport in your sports sedan, sticking with RWD also saves you some cash.

Still, overall, most of the options Lexus offers on the 2021 IS 350 F Sport are worth the purchase price. Just make sure to plan your budget accordingly.

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