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.
Sporty handling should be the main event in a sports sedan but, alas, that's not the case here. While body roll is fairly well contained, the IS isn't particularly agile and its responses are rather ordinary, missing the nimbleness that makes a car fun to drive. That's true on the road and carries over to the track.