2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport vs. 2022 BMW 3 Series: Interior Comparison

2022 BMW 3 Series and 2021 IS 350 AWD F Sport interior comparison highlights:

  • The 2022 BMW 3 Series and 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport compete in the compact luxury sports sedan segment at similar price points
  • BMW offers more technology and space in the 2022 3 Series, but the interior is somewhat spartan and has fewer standard luxury features
  • The 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport’s interior is less roomy and has a shorter luxury options list, but it’s more comfortable and yet sportier-feeling

Although it’s no longer the undisputed segment leader, the BMW 3 Series remains a luxury sports sedan benchmark. That requires even the models without M badges to be not just athletic, but luxurious, too. And as a 3 Series rival, especially in F Sport form, the Lexus IS 350 faces the same demands. In terms of performance, the 3 Series remains ahead. But when it comes to interior luxury, the 2022 BMW 3 Series can’t leave the 2021 Lexus IS 350 behind.

2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport vs. 2022 BMW 3 Series: interior features

Without options, a 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sports costs $44,900 before destination. My 350 AWD F Sport tester, though, cost $58,040 after the $1025 destination with all its features. Meanwhile, a base 2022 BMW 3 Series with AWD, the 330i xDrive, costs $43,450. However, the F Sport is arguably a closer analog for the M340i xDrive, which starts at $56,700 before destination.

In standard form, the 2021 IS 350 F Sport and 2022 3 Series have some similar entries on their features lists. Both have standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, for example, as well as front sports seats and auto-dimming rearview mirrors. These sedans also have 10-speaker audio systems, universal garage-door openers, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Both offer optional 10.3” touchscreens, too. And neither comes standard with leather upholstery.

When it comes to interior tech, though, the 2022 BMW 3 Series is slightly ahead. For one, it has a slightly larger standard touchscreen as well as standard navigation and voice commands. Also, it comes standard with a power moonroof, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and multi-color ambient lighting. The Lexus IS 350 doesn’t offer those last two features even as options, though it does the others. Plus, unlike the IS, the 3 Series has optional leather.

However, the 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport arguably has more standard interior luxuries. It doesn’t have leather seats, but it does have heated and ventilated front seats and a heated leather-trimmed steering wheel. Those all cost extra on the 3 Series, as does adjustable lumbar support, which the F Sport also has as standard. Lexus throws keyless entry in, too, something the base 330i xDrive lacks.

Furthermore, the 2021 IS 350 F Sport comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 ADAS suite. Meanwhile, safety features like lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring are optional on the 2022 3 Series. Parking assist is optional on both sedans, though. 

The 2022 BMW 3 Series interior is premium and spacious enough, but is it luxurious?

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Although MotorBiscuit hasn’t driven the latest 3 Series, we have driven several 4 Series models, which are essentially 3 Series coupes. And overall, we’ve been impressed with the interior quality, especially in the high-spec M440i.

For a moment several years back, some BMW interiors felt rather cheap for what they cost. But as I noted when I drove the 2022 M440i Gran Coupe, that’s no longer the case. Nothing in the 2022 BMW 3 Series’ interior feels cheap, Car and Driver says, and it’s rather spacious and airy. And if you don’t like metal interior trim, you can always get some open-pore wood.

However, while the 2022 BMW 3 Series’ interior materials are generally high quality, some “chintzy” materials remain in lower-spec trims, MotorTrend reports. Furthermore, while Car and Driver calls the interior’s design “practical,” MT calls it “austere.” I wouldn’t go so far as MT, but I do think the M Performance models could use a bit more standard flair. Perhaps Alpina could help now that it’s officially under the BMW umbrella. Also, even the M340i xDrive doesn’t come standard with a heated steering wheel or seats.

Neither myself nor my colleagues had any complaints with the 3 Series’ seats. MT found them rather firm, but supportive. But the seats in Car and Driver’s long-term M340i, though supportive and well-bolstered, were uncomfortable over long distances. In addition, while the digital gauge cluster is sharp, some reviewers found it difficult to read quickly. Also, the 2022 BMW 3 Series offers plenty of interior tech, but it almost crosses into gimmick territory, MT says.

That’s not to say the 2022 BMW 3 Series has a bad interior, because it doesn’t. But it’s arguably more premium than truly luxurious.

The 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport’s interior is cozier, but it nails the performance vibe

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If this was purely a contest of interior space, the 2022 BMW 3 Series would likely beat the 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport. You can briefly seat three people in the back of the Lexus, but it’s really built for two. And if you’re significantly over six feet tall, the rakish roofline leaves you minimal headroom at best.  

However, the 2021 IS 350 F Sport is easily BMW’s equal when it comes to material quality. The few hard plastics are solid, not chintzy, and placed far from major touchpoints. Also, the redesigned center console uses mainly matte plastic instead of gloss, so you won’t leave fingerprints. And the Nuluxe upholstery is just as soft as real leather but is likely easier to clean.

Unfortunately, even with the recent infotainment overhaul, the 2021 Lexus IS still has a center-console-mounted touchpad. Going touchscreen only works just fine, and the infotainment system itself is perfectly acceptable, but the touchpad robs valuable space. Hence why the 3 Series offers a wireless charging pad and the IS doesn’t, for example.

Where the 2021 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport’s interior springs ahead of the 2022 BMW 3 Series interior, though, is execution. The no-cost red-and-black upholstery looks properly sporty, as does the low, snug seating position. And whereas the 2022 BMW 3 Series interior verges on austere, the IS’s cabin is elegant, MT reports. The BMW feels like a luxury car, but the IS feels like a luxury sports car.

Furthermore, the 3 Series’ seats might be supportive, but the IS 350 F Sport’s thrones are supportive and comfortable. Also, they’re ventilated, not just heated. And despite the sharp roofline, it’s easy to see out of. Plus, no digital gauge cluster can match the sheer satisfaction and clarity of the IS’s LFA-style gauge.

Which luxury sports sedan has the better interior?

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In terms of outright luxury, the 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport is roughly equal to the 2022 BMW 3 Series. However, each has different advantages over the other. The BMW, for instance, offers more space, tech, and material upgrades. But the Lexus is comfier, has more standard features, and has a sportier feeling.

Picking which sedan has the better interior is like choosing between coffee blends at a café. Some prefer dark, caramel-like flavors, others want something brighter and fruitier. But regardless of personal taste, the IS’s interior is assuredly not low-quality compared to what the 3 Series offers.

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