Comparison: Lexus IS 350 vs. BMW 330i

Lexus IS 350 vs. BMW 330i

It’s now almost two years old, but I’ve seen few comparisons as detailed as Autoweb’s head-to-head showdown between the 2006 BMW 330i and the 2006 Lexus IS 350.

No stone is left unturned as they pit the two cars against each other, comparing them in convenience, design, comfort, and driving. The results couldn’t be considered all that surprising, but the thoughtfulness in the examination certainly was. Not to play spoiler, but here’s how it shook down:


1. IS 350 2. 330i


1. IS 350 2. 330i


1. IS 350 2. 330i


1. 330i 2. IS 350

Like I said, not all that surprising, though it did raise my eyebrows to see the IS 350 top the 330i in the Design category. Here’s their justification of the result:

In the end, our editors gave a slight edge to the Lexus’s aggressive, muscular stance and look-at-me styling that was just one massive rear wing shy of being over the top. But, without that hopped-up Honda Civic add-on, the 2006 Lexus IS 350 makes a powerful statement, something that should be required of any sport luxury sedan with an as-tested sticker in the $45,000 range. The 2006 BMW 330i, on the other hand, represents with a powerful stance, but the off-the-shelf look of the taillights, for example, relegates the Bimmer to the Lexus IS 350’s shadows.

As you probably guessed, with a 3-to-1 margin, the IS 350 came out on top of the comparison. The BMW will perpetually win any battle when it comes to the driving experience, but when the main concern is commuting, as it is with most drivers, the IS 350 has the 330i beat.



  1. I agree, a great comparison, very detailed.  Not so surprised about the IS winning the design category, lots of other comparisons with the 3-series have found the IS’ design to be more attractive, innovative, and pleasing.

  2. Dan: I think my surprise came more from the fact that too many times Lexus design are considered derivative, especially when compared to BMW & Mercedes.

    Then again, with the flak BMW design has taken in recent years, and the rather conservative styling of the new 3-series, it probably shouldn’t have come as such a shock.

  3. I was not surprised with the design win for the IS as well, thats why I bought the new IS250 smile Also a factor, in the UK, at least, the BMW dealers seem to be rather snoobish since they expect people to just buy BMW without any real push for deals or discounts. I am glad that Lexus are giving them good competition.

    To me the driving capability is not everything, since it a rare day you can drive at speeds that push the car to this limit, and then you just get snapped by a speed camera!

  4. I purchased the IS 350 because the design was so clean and lithe. Even after 102,000 km and zero problems I just love the design of this car. This is one of the best looking cars out there and Lexus may have problems topping it in the future.The ergonomics are top notch and the fit and finish is superb. The BMW had better steering feel and is a handsome car also nut the IS was just too sweet to ignore.

  5. I would pick the bmw over the lexus, just because of the driving experience. And lexus news guy, you don’t have to drive at top speeds to have fun in the bimmer. It puts a smile on your face just taking a few fast corners on your way home from work. Also you cant’t even fit two five year olds comfortable in the back seat of the lexus. And the bimmer wins the mpg contest too.

  6. keep in mind Lexus cars are made for a comfortable luxurious RELIABLE ride. cost to own a lexus is far cheaper than BMW. More being said, when the F-performance series is perfected within the next 8 years we’ll be seeing lexus surpass the bmw sport cars.

  7. I sure hope so, Joe.

  8. but i thought lexus may reach BMW driving experience with the next generations (IS/GS/LS)they ‘ll make GS-F and rumored about LS-F and with the LFA beside the IS-F

    so from my view if lexus continue research on the driving stuff

    you may have lexus (BMW driving like) with the same comfort and luxury knowing on lexus from it’s start

  9. It is all about the driving experience, after all, when you are talking about automobiles in this class, and the BMW is just far above the Lexis, not even close. Styling, that is just a personal preference. The Lexis is just boring to me, it looks like many of the Japanese brands, nothing special, but again, that is just personal preference.
    The BMW just presents a more refined and pleasurable driving experience on a day to day basis. It gives the right amount of road feel if you want to drive it with a heavy hand, or if you just want to cruise, it will do that all day long, too. It handles fantastic in winter weather also. I have driven the Lexis, and it does not give the same type of driving confidence.

  10. Agree with you on all points, hard for anything to compete with the BMW 3-series in terms of driving, and it certainly comes down to personal preference. Thanks for your comment!