Lexus IS250 AWD
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – Sitting in the test car driveway the “Deep Sea Mica” paint captures the eye as does the aggressive styling of the entry level sedan in Lexus’ IS series.
This is a sport sedan and that becomes clear during entry that requires a certain amount of agility. But once inside you will quickly notice the luxury touches and 10-way adjustable heated and cooled bucket seats that keep your bottom firmly in place under what we will call robust driving situations.
Leather, real wood, and large easy to read white on black instruments face the driver with along with a 4.2 inch color multi-information display including audio, trip, navigation, phone, ambient temperature numbers or pretty much all you want to know. All of your senses will tell you this is a luxury ride in the Lexus tradition.
The dual-zone climate control system is controlled by touch-sensitive electrostatic temperature switches that can be finicky. Old fashioned knobs work better.
Grab the leather wrapped and hefty gear lever and we are underway.
Propelling the AWD test car was a 2.5-liter six rated at 204 hp @ 6,400 rpm, with 185 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. A 0-60 time of about 7.5 seconds is the norm. While more than adequate for the typical owner, quick passing maneuvers had me wishing for about another 10 to 15 horsepower.
More power can be had by moving up to the IS350 and its 3.5-liter V6 with 306 hp @ 6,400 with 277 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm. That will lower an all out 0-60 run to just less than six seconds and adds an eight speed automatic compared to the IS250’s six speed.
EPA fuel economy works out to 20-27 in the IS250 and 19-29 in its bigger brother so there isn’t much of a penalty to moving up in class. Both require premium unleaded.
I came in at 23 mpg in country and interstate driving. During the period, I didn’t have a chance to experience the worst rush hour backups in the land that occur five days a week in your nation’s Capitol City, according to a new report. In a typical year, motorists put in a full work week just sitting in traffic.
While not the handling whiz of the rival BMW 3-series, the IS was still a treat to drive on winding back roads in Maryland and West Virginia. The sport driving mode added to the experience holding lower gears in place longer, with lightning quick paddle shifts just a finger flick away on the hefty, leather bound steering wheel.
Driving modes, selected via a large knob on the center console, also include Normal and ECO.
On the flip side, if there is a long interstate trip in your future the IS reveals its luxury persona, with virtually no wind or road noise on the interstates, And allow me again praise one of the most comfortable bucket seats this bod has experienced.
One brilliant addition! A right ankle and lower leg rest built into the drive tunnel added greatly to the comfort level and made me wonder why this is not included on all cars.
Two adult rear seat passengers can be accommodated behind two six foot folks up front but taller riders may find their head occasionally touching the gradually tapering C pillar.
There are, of course, a multitude of safety, audio, and other options available – backup camera, remote touch interface, voice command and app suite.
Lexus Enform allows IOS Smartphone users to obtain information such as maintenance alerts, warning light notifications and a vehicle health report that include email and push notifications as well as service campaigns.
Enform remote allows the owner to remotely view and control features such as lock/unlock, remote start/stop, and climate control.
Now what does all this cost? The base MSRP for the IS 250 is $37,500. With lovely optional 18” wheels, a Luxury Package, Navi system, Intuitive Parking Assist, and some other minor details, the test car would roll off the lot with an MSRP of $46,650.
That compares to a base of $40,870 for the IS350 if the greater horsepower appeals.
At the end of the week this was one of those test cars that I was sorry to see roll down the street. It had a wonderful balance of handling, performance and luxury not to forget some eye catching style.
For 2016, Lexus adds a new model, the IS 200t, available in RWD form only. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with intercooler paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
This engine cranks out 241 hp and has 258 lb-ft. torque at 1,650-4,400 rpm. Lexus developed the turbocharged engine in house, first integrated it into the NX luxury utility hybrid for 2015 model year, and modified it for IS 200t.
I have not yet seen any performance or economy figures.