ABS and side air bags standard. Head protection air bags standard from 2002. ESC available from 2002, standard from 2006.
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 features, or luxury appeal. Add in the IS's cramped interior and mediocre fuel economy, and it's clear that Lexus phoned this one in. Its best qualities are quintessential Lexus assets like reliability and customer service.
Here's what's good about the IS: it has eye-catching styling and a smooth V6 that's quiet and refined. Still, while the IS 300's engine provides competitive performance that keeps pace with its peers, its paltry 20 mpg overall is even worse than some three-row SUVs. New for the 2016 model year, a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine replaces the previous 2.5-liter V6. But if you want all-wheel drive you're forced to get the IS 300 with its 255-hp, 3.5-liter V6, which is what we tested.