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How Well Does A Lexus IS 250/350 Drive In Snow? (Answered)

The Lexus IS 250, and 350 variants drive well in the snow when they are outfitted with snow tires. The owners of the AWD variant complain less about fish-tailing and experience better performance. Standard safety features such as snow driving mode, VDIM, and ABS also add to winter’s convenience.

Reliability and agility are two things that Lexus IS 250/350 variants are known for. There are many questions one wonders about before making the purchase, such as how well a Lexus IS 250/350 drives in the snow, especially if you have to tackle a lot of winter driving in this sedan.

We will now read about the snow driving experience of Lexus owners, and auto journalists in Lexus IS 250 and 350. Then we will get to know about the technological advances that will shape our driving experience in the snow.

Later, we will briefly discuss the dynamics of Lexus IS 250 and 350, such as wheelbase, ground clearance, and weight distribution. Finally, we will explore any add-on devices to enhance the snow driving experience in a Lexus 250/350. So take a deep breath because everything is going to be discussed in-depth.

Also read: How Many Miles Can A Lexus IS 350 Last? (Answered)

Experience Of Lexus IS 250/350 Owners

It is essential to know the experience of drivers who use Lexus IS 250/350 frequently and what they say about its snow capabilities. An overview of forums and blogs about Lexus IS 250 and 350 depicts that owners are generally delighted with its performance year around.

Performance enthusiasts like the RWD variant as it delivers power quickly to the wheels. But owners are a little bit skeptical about the performance of RWD in snow. Therefore, AWD variants of Lexus IS 250 and 350 are preferred for snow driving.

An important thing in defining handling and performance in snow is a set of winter tires. Following are some of the comments of owners that we have selected for you:

It is my 3rd year driving Lexus IS 250 in winter. It has been exceptionally good in my opinion especially in snowy conditions. IS 250 is less performance-oriented in all-season conditions but on wet and snowy roads it has plenty of power off the line. The driving experience is much improved by using the “snow mode” button.


First, the most important factor for driving Lexus IS 350 in wintry conditions is a set of winter tires. All-wheel drive is helpful for traction and getting going if one becomes stuck, but all-around performance on ice and snow demands winter tires, it is as simple as that.


The all-season tires that I bought my Lexus 250 and 350 with are not the greatest because without AWD or 4WD or some sort of system like that you lose some ability to grip while driving on snow. So, you must have a good set of winter tires on these vehicles. Don’t cheap out on winter tires in these cars.


Does Lexus IS 250/350 Have Snow Tires?

The Lexus IS 250 is offered in 17-inch standard wheels with all-season tires, and IS 350 is offered in 18-inch standard wheels upgradeable to 19 inches with all-season tires.

All-season tires perform well on dry and moderately wet surfaces, but they are not reliable in snow. The users haven’t been happy with the performance and handling of their Lexus IS 250 and 350 in the snow with stock tires.

The all-season tires are designed for use in moderate temperatures and almost all kinds of road conditions. As the temperature falls below 45 degrees for a long duration, the rubber compound of these tires becomes hard. A hardened tire does not bite into snow or ice as it lacks sufficient grip.

So, for driving in snow and ice, winter tires are recommended by both the Lexus and Lexus IS 250/350 drivers. Winter tires are specially formulated to retain flexibility in freezing temperatures. The tread of these tires is also made up of a deeper groove and ridge pattern that provides extra grip by biting snow harder.

When the snow melts, it forms ice which is hard and slippery. Studded winter tires provide better handling on icy surfaces by digging into the ice and preventing an event of loss of traction of the vehicle.

However, these special tires are not meant to be used around the year and must be replaced with a set of all-season tires when the season becomes favorable. Some states prohibit the use of studded tires, so make sure to check your state’s regulations before putting on these studded tires.

If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!

What Drive System Does a Lexus IS 250/350 Have?

The Lexus IS 250 and 350 are offered in AWD. AWD variants of both models are comfortable to drive and provide exceptional handling but take away the fuel efficiency as a trade-off. RWD variants are more fuel-efficient. However, in snow driving, AWD variants offer better handling and performance.

The rear-wheel-drive variants suffer from weight distribution problems. The wheels delivering the power don’t have more weight to allow for more grip. These wheels fail to provide sufficient push in slippery conditions. The presence of a large, heavy power unit in the front also makes the vehicle front heavy.

This takes our attention towards the AWD variant. The Lexus IS 250/350 is available in an all-wheel-drive system. This drive setup is more adapted to driving in snow than the RWD setup. The AWD system, along with VSC and Trac system, shares power with all car wheels. It also regulates the power output of individual wheels.

This system checks the loss of grip on individual wheels and reduces the sideways slip, also known as oversteer. AWD also actively prevents the vehicle from understeer, thereby increasing driving confidence in winter.

It is noteworthy that the AWD offered in Lexus IS is not all-time AWD and can be turned off, which is not advised if you want to prevent slipping in an intersection and sliding into a snowbank.

However, to get the most out of the AWD system, it is recommended to pair it with a good set of winter tires. Another thing to note is that because of the relatively low ground clearance of a maximum of 5.3 inches and lack of 4WD; it is not advisable to operate Lexus IS 250/350 for off-roading purposes.

What Electronics System Helps the Lexus IS 250/350 In the Snow?

Vehicle Stability Control

The VSC feature is standard in all Lexus IS 250/350 models, and it prevents loss of control over the vehicles in curves and corners. VSC works by selective braking of individual wheels and checks the power being directed from the engine to the tires. VSC results in more confident driving on snowy and wet tarmac.

Traction Control (Trac)

Traction control was offered as standard in 2008, and later models of Lexus IS 250/350. It prevents the wheel from spinning by reducing the power to that wheel. Alternatively, it can also direct more energy towards the wheel with the best grip so that the vehicle can be moved forward without spinning the wheels excessively.

Snow Mode

A driving mode labeled snow mode can be activated with a dedicated button next to the gear selector in Lexus IS 250/350. Snow Mode works with other vehicle electronic systems to allow the maximum push from wheels and keep the surface grip at the max.

It does all of that by decreasing the torque output to the wheels that have power. This means that gears shift earlier, and the vehicle feels sluggish initially, but an overall increase in grip on the slippery surface is observed.

Weight Distribution

The drive quality of Lexus IS 250/350 in snow depends on the set of tires installed. In addition to that, it heavily relies on the drive system type and the electronic systems that we have discussed earlier. But some technical aspects can also affect the performance of a vehicle on the snowy or icy tarmac. One such aspect is weight distribution across the front and rear axles.

It is believed that a heavier vehicle can handle snow better. To get an idea, the curb weight of Lexus IS 250 ranges from 3,455 to 3,651 lbs. For Lexus IS 350, this range is from 3,748 to 3,880 lbs. Keeping in view the dimensions and overall size of these vehicles, the curb weight is balanced, and, in our opinion, it doesn’t contribute much towards the snow driving capability.

The way the manufacturer distributes the weight across the front and rear axles are essential in all vehicles, and it becomes increasingly relevant in RWD variants of Lexus IS 250 and 350. The AWD drive variants usually remain unaffected as power distribution to all the wheels is monitored regardless of the laden weight.

Lexus IS ModelWeight Distribution F/R
2015 IS 250 RWD52/48
2015 IS 250 AWD54/46
2021 IS 350 RWD54/46
2021 IS 350 AWD55/45

The figures mentioned above suggest that weight is more equally distributed in RWD

vehicles, but the loss of traction in front wheels can cause excessive push from the rear wheels resulting in fish-tailing and sliding uncontrollably.

In newer models of Lexus IS, the AWD drive system option sales is more than 90 percent compared to the RWD system because of exceptional handling and performance in any weather, especially snow.

Ground Clearance

Ground clearance of a vehicle is another technical aspect that can determine its driving capability in snow. In the case of Lexus IS 250/350 this aspect does not favor these models.

Lexus went for sportier looks and a lower stance while designing these models. This approach has translated into lower ground clearance. On average, the ground clearance of Lexus IS 250 ranges from 5.1 to 5.3 inches, and for Lexus IS 350, it ranges from 5.3 to 5.5 inches.

The ground clearance of 5.1 to 5.5 inches is not inadequate for driving in moderate snow. This much ground clearance also gets the job done in areas where it snows lightly. But for the regions where snow piles up too many inches, Lexus IS 250/350 is no comparison to a full-size SUV or a truck built for this purpose.

The lower ground clearance can cause the Lexus IS 250/350 to get stuck in a few inches of snow. It can also cause damage to the lower extremities if the snow melts into ice. So, ground clearance of Lexus IS 250/350 doesn’t pan well in favor of driving in heavy snow.


The wheelbase is a technical aspect that cannot be ignored while driving in the snow, but it is not as important as having a correct set of tires and a drive system such as AWD. The wheelbase suggests how quickly a vehicle can get out of control. Cars with shorter wheelbases tend to be squirrely and don’t offer their drivers a chance to correct course.

Alternatively, a vehicle with a longer wheelbase allows the driver to take corrective action well in time before the car slips and slides out of control. A full-size truck has a wheelbase of more than 160 inches on average.

The Lexus IS 250/350 models usually have a wheelbase of 110 inches on average, making them medium-wheelbase vehicles and doesn’t contribute to the snow drive experience.

What Traction Device You Can Use on The Lexus IS 250/350?

Snow traction devices can help your vehicle get better traction even when all the electronic systems are playing their part, and you have put on the right tires. These devices or snow chains can improve the handling of your Lexus IS 250/350 when driving in snow.

The Lexus owner’s manual doesn’t recommend using any traction device with the installed 17 – 18-inch wheels. However, Lexus IS 250/350 owners have suggested that these snow chains can improve the stopping distance of their vehicle. You can find snow chains appropriate for your Lexus IS 250/350 on peerless chain, and when you know which one you need, you can search it up here on Amazon.