5 places we'd love to drive the first-ever Lexus IS 500
Lexus has made a sports sedan with a big naturally aspirated V8, and it requires suitable roads.
There's a new Lexus IS. But it's not just any old IS, it's the IS 500 F SPORT Performance, and with 472hp*, it's the most powerful IS ever made. With massive quad exhausts to blast out the workings of a 5-liter V8, it's a big ol' monster of a sport sedan that'll do 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds**.
It'd be a shame to just meander back and forth from home to work and the store; this is a car that needs an open road to fully enjoy it. But where? These places, that's where.
Angeles Crest Highway, CA
Braaaaaap, etc (photo: Google Maps)
The US is a big country. While much of it is made up of uninteresting interstates, there are plenty of good driving roads to be found. The best ones are tucked away, which means you'll have to go out of your way to find them. But it also means that they'll likely be quiet and free from traffic.
One of our favorites is the Angeles Crest Highway, which snakes north from Los Angeles into the Angeles National Forest. It gives you 66 miles of winding mountain roads, with no trucks allowed and some incredible views. You do need to watch out for landslides and wildfires, however.
Tunnel of trees, MI
Photo: Aaron Burden on Unsplash
The M-119 from Harbor Springs to Cross Village in northern Michigan is affectionately known as the Tunnel of Trees, because... well, look at the above picture. It's scenic AF, and the leafy spectators will watch in awe as you thread your way through the numerous curves, catching the occasional glimpse of Lake Michigan through the branches. Enjoy the bends, but keep an eye out for other tourists and cyclists.
Mount Panorama, Australia
Photo: Google Maps
Yes, we could have put the Nurburgring Nordschleife on this list, and it would be an amazing place to drive the IS 500. But it's a bit obvious, isn't it? If you're going to go abroad and drive on a road-based track, try somewhere a little bit different. Mount Panorama in Bathurst, New South Wales, is an outstanding match-up for the big V8 Lexus, because it's long been home to Australia's V8 Supercars series. This epic circuit has amazing views, and, because it's a public road, you can go and drive it whenever you want. Unless there's a race on.
Wawona Tunnel, Yosemite, CA
Photo: Little Mountain 5 on Wikipedia
Yes, much of the fun of a big V8 is the effortless performance. But a big chunk of the attraction is also the noise. So it would be borderline criminal to not go and hear those four exhausts barking away in a big long tunnel. The longest tunnel in the US is the Whitter Tunnel in Alaska, but it's narrow and has a very low speed limit. And it's in Alaska.
So we settled on the Wawona Tunnel in Yosemite National Park, California, because you may as well have some great scenery when you pop out the other side. Built in 1933, it gives you nearly a mile of hewn rock to bounce your cylinder sounds off, and it may even echo your hysterical laughter while you do it.
Bonneville Speedway, UT
Photo: Sierra Ray on Unsplash
Look, we're simple folk here at DriveTribe. We like regular Coke, steak medium rare, and our V8 sport sedans flat out in a straight line. So if you could deliver our IS 500 to the Bonneville Salt Flats please, that'd be just awesome. We'll meet you there. Bring fuel.
Where would you take an IS 500? Comment below
*Horsepower caveat: Ratings achieved using the required premium unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 91 or higher. If premium fuel is not used, performance will decrease.
**0-60mph caveat: AMCI Testing Certified. Performance figures are for comparison only and were obtained with prototype vehicles by professional drivers.