The Lexus IS is the company's entry-level sport sedan and answer to the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and BMW 3 Series. The IS first went on sale in 2000, followed by the current generation, which launched in 2006. After a 2010 refresh, there are virtually no new changes for 2012, but Lexus is expected to announce the full redesign for 2013.
The IS 250 features a 2.5-liter, 204-horsepower V-6 with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, and either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The IS 350 comes with a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with a six-speed automatic. Both are available with the optional convertible trim. The high-powered IS F gets by with a 416 hp, 5.0-liter V-8 and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Inside, the IS is deceivingly cramped for its exterior size. There is, however, every conceivable amenity, like leather-trimmed seats, dual-zone climate control, multiple intelligent airbags, and impressive standard and optional audio and infotainment systems.
Despite its dated construction, the IS remains an attractive and competent sports sedan with an accessible price point and a plethora of premium options.
Body styles: Sedan, convertible
Engines: 2.5-liter V-6, 3.5-liter V-6, 5.0-liter V-8
Transmissions: six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Models: IS 250, IS 250C, IS 350, IS 350C, IS F
There should be a new IS for 2013. Until then, the only changes for 2012 include Nebula Gray Pearl paint and Fire Agate Pearl, replacing Smoky Granite Mica and Glacier Frost Mica paint colors.
Going into its seventh year, the IS has aged gracefully, and maintains an attractive sport exterior. Chrome grills, exhaust tips, and standard 17-inch rims stand out from the pack, and there are optional 18-inch rims, and two trim level options: the luxury trim and F sport trim, featuring front fascia and rear deck lid spoilers.
Leather and wood touches abound throughout the interior. Heated and ventilated front seats, 14-speaker surround sound audio, Bluetooth, and navigation are available.
Performance & Handling
The IS has an excellent sport-tuned chassis and provides an engaging drive. The IS 350 is a competitive sports sedan and keeps up with the best from Germany, while the IS 250 offers entry-level access and top model refinement. The IS F takes the power and suspension package to extreme levels, and is immensely entertaining on the road or the track.
The IS line has standard dual front, dual front knee, front and rear side curtain, and front and rear side airbags. It also features an electronic stability and traction control system, brake assist, and electronic brake distribution. There is an optional pre-collision system that is radar tracked should the driver fail to react to system warnings, as well as a rearview camera.
EPA Fuel Economy
IS 250: 19-21 mpg city/ 27-30 mpg highway
IS 350: 18-20 mpg city/25-27 mpg highway
IS F: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway
- Fire-breathing IS F
Sedan or convertible option
You Won't Like
- Cramped interior
Weak 2.5-liter V-6
Stylish sedan, awkward drop top
If You Like This Vehicle
- Infiniti G37
- BMW 3 Series
- Audi A4
- Volvo S60
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class