The Lexus IS looks fast—faster than it is. But once on the move, its athletic, refined chassis confirms its sport-luxury aspirations. Those enticed by its extroverted styling will enjoy a host of standard high-tech assists and a choice of several powertrains. The rear-wheel-drive base model is powered by a turbo four-cylinder, and V-6 versions are available with all-wheel drive. An optional F Sport package features a more aggressive appearance and a handful of performance tweaks. The IS could be quicker and its infotainment system better, but its purposeful design and engaging driving character make it a worthwhile alternative in the highly competitive entry-luxury sedan class.
What’s New for 2018?
The Lexus IS receives subtle updates for 2018. Most notably, its V-6 engines get a 5-hp power increase, and the four-cylinder, rear-drive IS200t is now called the IS300 RWD (the IS300 AWD has a V-6). An optional adaptive front lighting system is new; it allows the headlights to turn with the steering wheel for improved visibility. The standard Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect are free for 10 years instead of only one as before. The software allows users to access vehicle diagnostics remotely. The F Sport performance trim includes a standard limited-slip rear differential, but only in the top-tier IS350 RWD.
What Was New for 2017?
The 2017 Lexus IS received restyled front and rear ends, several interior updates, and a slew of standard active safety features. It added a more dramatic spindle grille, new headlights, larger air intakes, and a sculpted hood. The interior saw revised steering-wheel controls and more color choices, among other minor changes. All models had the Lexus Safety System+ with automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and more. Rounding out the 2017 additions were standard 18-inch wheels on the IS350, an available 10.3-inch infotainment screen, and two new paint colors—Caviar and Nightfall Mica.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
The IS stands out because of its striking appearance, and the entry-level model provides that for as little as $39,205. But sometimes you need some extra hot sauce. Enter the IS350, which starts at $42,825. Its standard 311-hp V-6 is more powerful than the all-wheel-drive IS300 (260 ponies from its 3.5-liter V-6), and this car needs all the horsepower it can get. The next step up is the F Sport trim, which is available on all models. Along with an altered appearance, it includes:
• Heated and cooled, bolstered, power-adjustable front seats
• Interactive digital instrument cluster
• Adaptive dampers (IS350 only)
• F Sport suspension tuning
Paired with all-wheel drive, our IS350 F Sport totaled $47,355.