• IS 250 and IS 350 with navigation get upgraded audio and connectivity.
  • The Lexus Enform App Suite leverages smart phone functionality.
  • Upgraded audio includes HD Radio with iTunes tagging.

Smartphones provide information and services at the touch of a button, but these devices can be a dangerous distraction for drivers. Automakers like Lexus are leveraging phones' communication capabilities and delivering web-based information and entertainment through in-car electronics. The Lexus Enform App Suite, available in the 2013 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 compact luxury sedans, gives drivers the best web functionality, accessed hands-free using voice commands.

New 2013 IS models with navigation include the Enform App Suite, which uses a driver's smartphone to reach the Internet. Once connected, drivers can listen to Internet radio from services such as Pandora and iHeartRadio, perform local searches using Bing or Yelp, make dinner reservations with OpenTable or buy movie tickets using MovieTickets.com. These apps are accessible without the distraction of thumbing through menus on a handheld device. The Enform App Suite requires a subscription, which Lexus provides complimentarily for the first year.

Lexus has also added HD Radio with iTunes tagging to the 2013 IS with navigation. HD Radio uses a digital signal that offers more FM channels without a subscription, and includes features such as live pause and artist and song information. iTunes tagging lets listeners easily tag songs they like for later purchase through iTunes.

Navigation-equipped 2013 IS models also get enhanced Bluetooth functionality, which automatically imports the user's phone book for easier dialing. Navigation includes a backup camera as well. The Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming are standard even on non-navigation equipped IS models.

The standard audio system is a 194-watt 13-speaker unit with a 6-disc changer, iPod and USB inputs, Sirius XM satellite radio and automatic level control that increases the volume at higher speeds.

Both the 2013 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 are available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The base rear-drive IS 250 has a starting manufacturer's retail price of $35,065. The 306-horsepower IS 350 with all-wheel drive comes in at $42,780. Lexus has not yet announced when 2013 IS models will arrive in dealer showrooms.

What it means to you: 2012 IS models are still available for now. But for the latest in connected technology, wait for the 2013 model, and opt for the navigation package.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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