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Lexus IS: Lively Handling, Elegant Packaging

Lexus IS: Lively Handling, Elegant Packaging

The Lexus sedan line is robust, with four lines available to suit every taste: the IS, ES, GS, and LS models (with hybrids available for the ES and LS). Starting with the IS, each model is progressively more powerful and larger as you go up the ladder, culminating in the executive-level LS.

If what you want is the Lexus pedigree at half the price of the LS, the IS could be a terrific choice for you. With a variety of trim levels to match your performance needs, the 2019 Lexus IS has a lot going for it. I’m always impressed by the craftsmanship of Lexus products; their engineers eat, sleep, and breathe these vehicles until they’re satisfied. Each model has a story – or even a set of stories – that sets it apart from the others.

In the case of the Lexus IS, the story is this: for a competitive price, this is a sedan that will satisfy your need for a grown-up ride that can deliver for years to come with reliable outcomes.

Overall, the Lexus IS is an elegant, predictably comfortable ride, with plenty of room for a small family or young professional.

If you decide that you love what the IS has to offer but you can ditch the rear seat, you can go for the RC, which offers the same engine options as the IS 350. Want to go even meatier on the performance level? The RC F comes with a 5.0-liter V-8.

DRIVE AND HANDLING

The Lexus IS 300 includes a 241-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that comes with rear-wheel-drive. You may opt to add all-wheel drive to this model, which upgrades the engine to a 3.5-liter V6 and increases the horsepower to 260.

  • Want more power? The Lexus IS 350 steps it up to a 311-hp V6.
  • An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard for the IS 300 and IS 350, and a six-speed automatic for the AWD models.

SAFETY FEATURES

For every IS model, Lexus includes its Safety System+, which includes lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and high-speed adaptive cruise control. All models come with a pre-collision system, which includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking. A rearview camera is also included. Add-on options include rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and parking sensors.

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2019 Lexus IS an overall safety rating of 5/5 stars
  • The 2019 Lexus IS achieved the highest score of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

TRIMS

All Lexus IS models include: moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, NuLuxe upholstery, 7-inch display, two USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, and Scout GPS Link. F Sport variants include performance touches like adaptive suspension for a more spirited drive, along with a Sport S+ mode.

All models of the Lexus IS require premium fuel.

IS 300 RWD and IS 300 F SPORT RWD

  • RWD, Automatic transmission
  • Turbocharged 2.0L 241-horsepower engine
  • Fuel economy: 21 City/30 Hwy

IS 300 AWD and IS F SPORT AWD

  • AWD, Automatic transmission
  • 260-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine
  • Fuel economy: 19 City/26 Hwy

IS 350 RWD and IS 350 F SPORT RWD

  • RWD, Automatic transmission
  • 311-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine
  • Fuel economy: 20 City/28 Hwy

IS 350 AWD and F SPORT AWD

  • AWD, Automatic transmission
  • 311-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine
  • Fuel economy: 19 City/26 Hwy

The IS 300 F Sport Black Line Special Edition (in RWD or AWD), with unique accents and trim touches, is also available starting at $44,950 and $47,000, respectively.

PRICE

The starting price for a Lexus IS is $38,560 MSRP for the 300 RWD, and ranges up to a $46,710 for the IS 350 F SPORT AWD.  

LEXUS ENFORM REMOTE

Lexus Enform Remote will let you start the engine and climate control, lock and unlock doors, and check the fuel level, the status of windows and more from your smartphone or smart watch. What makes this even more useful is that it can also be controlled via Lexus skill on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices or the Google Assistant-enabled devices.

You can also use the mobile app to help find your vehicle. If you were to loan your Lexus IS to your teen driver, you can have some peace of mind by setting it up to receive instant alerts if they exceed a preset speed or mile limit.

Included for the first year of ownership. (Standard on: IS 300, IS 300 F SPORT, IS 350, IS 350 F SPORT)

EXTERIOR COLORS

Atomic Silver, Caviar, Eminent White Pearl, Liquid Platinum, Nebula Gray Pearl, Nightfall Mica, Obsidian Redline, Ultra White, Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0

INTERIOR OPTIONS

  • Black with F SPORT NuLuxe
  • Black with NuLuxe
  • Chateau with F SPORT NuLuxe
  • Chateau with NuLuxe
  • Flaxen with NuLuxe
  • Nuance Black with NuLuxe
  • Rioja Red with F SPORT NuLuxe

FEATURES WE LOVE

  • At $2,845, the available 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system is pricey, but WOW the sound is incredible
  • The cockpit is well-appointed with sports-car touches that make the IS feel more expensive than it is
  • Touch-based climate controls allow you to adjust the temperature in the cabin by swiping your finger. In the age of the smartphone, this makes a ton of sense.
  • The customizable digital instrument cluster in the IS F SPORT models was inspired by the $400K Lexus LFA supercar.

IMPROVEMENT POTENTIAL

  • The Remote Touch controller, which works kind of like a computer mouse, is awkward to use. I never really got the hang of it.
  • At 10.8 cubic feet, the cargo space for the 2019 Lexus IS is on the smaller side. The rear seats do fold down, but not all the way flat.  

RATING

IF THIS VEHICLE WERE A SONG, IT WOULD BE

“Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones

Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song

Elegant, cool, and refined, the Lexus IS and Nora Jones are on the same wavelength.

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