The redesigned IS further represents the core values that make the Lexus brand a standout-luxury and plushness. A number of innovative "technoid" features add to the ownership experience.

The Smart Entry and Start opens the door and allows you to start the engine by pushing a button without inserting a key. Simply have the key fob on your person and you'll have full access to the vehicle. Radar cruise control keeps the distance between the IS and the car in front consistent. It also works with the Pre-Collision System to pre-tension the seatbelts and prep the airbag when contact is eminent.

The outgoing IS 300 wasn't as luxurious as Lexus would have liked. While the reason for this was tip-toed around a bit at the long lead, it was obvious to us: The IS 300 was based on the JDM Toyota Altezza and, as such, performance rather than luxury was the aim.

For 2006 the Lexus IS line has expanded to offer three distinct models: the IS 250, IS 250 AWD and IS 350. The new car is 3.5 inches longer, three inches wider and sports an additional 2.4 inches of wheelbase compared to the IS 300.

The look of the new IS draws from the L-Finesse design philosophy of recent Lexus concept cars. While it is smooth and seductive in all the right ways, we are creatures of habit, so we hurriedly popped the hood to see the powerplant.

In this case we were met with a leading-edge engine, which could very well be a sign of things to come for many years. The old IS 300 inline six, which spawned turbo kits and Supra swaps, is gone and an entirely fresh V6 powerplant motivates the new IS. These new motors-the 2.5-liter 4GR-FSE and 3.5-liter 2GR-FSE-feature technologically advanced direct-injection fueling systems, dual VVT-i and other innovative controls and hard parts.

Conventional injection introduces fuel in the intake port area of the runner and aims it at the intake valve. Air and fuel pass the valve and enter the combustion chamber where the compression cycle creates the charged-air mixture. Direct injection moves the injector into the combustion chamber where a much more exact mixture can be created because the intake runners and/or the opening of the intake valve are no longer involved with fuel flow.

Also, better fuel atomization can be realized thanks to a more dynamic injector spray pattern. Through the use of a high-pressure fuel system, in which the pump is driven by a dedicated lobe on the exhaust cam, and a proprietary D.I. injector, a fan-shaped spray pattern is generated. This pattern and highly specialized tuning maps allow the V6 to deliver the often-opposing elements of power, economy and ULEV emissions.

The plot thickens with the IS 350's 2GR-FSE engine, which runs a staged injection system with secondary injectors positioned at the port. However, unlike traditional staged injection where the secondary injectors come online as boost is introduced or high load is realized, this setup runs only the direct injectors at high loads.

The tech attack goes well beyond the fueling system, as the valvetrain received some substantial attention. Toyota's Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) system was expanded to include both intake and exhaust cams. Previous VVT-i systems incorporated only the intake side

The new valvetrain also uses roller rockers with hydraulic lash adjusters. These improvements allow for more precise control of all aspects of combustion, which is key to the GR family's impressive combination of power and efficiency.