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In our tests, the IS came up short as a sports sedan. Handling is secure but not engaging enough to run with the best in the class. Ride comfort is neither tied down nor plush. Even the punchy IS 350 is underwhelming to drive. A 255-hp V6 powers the IS 300, which gives it more zip, but its fuel economy of 20 mpg overall is uncompetitive in the class. Still, the interior is extremely cramped, and getting in and out is an ungraceful chore. All-wheel-drive versions have a pronounced hump by the driver's right leg. Fit and finish is okay but not a standout, and the mouselike infotainment controller is distracting to use. A 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is available, but only in rear-wheel drive. Reliability has been above average, but the IS scores too low to be recommended.

Road Test

Lexus builds the IS sports sedan to challenge the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But we'll cut to the chase: Forget it; the IS doesn't even come close to the German pair's ride and handling prowess, fun to drive character, technology feature...

Highs

  • Eye-catching styling
  • Plenty of performance from either V6 engine

Lows

  • Inhospitable packaging, with a very cramped and difficult-to-access cabin
  • 20 mpg overall out of a compact sedan is pathetic, even with all-wheel drive

Best Version to Get

With such a low score in our testing, we'd suggest buying something other than an IS, even though it will likely be very reliable. If you do decide to get one, we would opt for the rear camera and blind spot monitoring. Both are available as relatively inexpensive stand-alone option...

Specifications

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
AWD , Rear
Warranty
  • Basic: 4 year/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain: 6 year/70,000 miles
  • Rust through: 6 year/unlimited
  • Roadside aid: 4 year/unlimited
Body Styles
sedan
Transmissions Available
  • 8-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 2-liter 4 turbo (241 hp)
  • 3.5-liter V6 (306 hp)
  • 3.5-liter V6 (255 hp)

Ratings

Safety
Performance
Comfort / Convenience
View Full Test Results