Highlight: The IS is available with two 6-cylinder powertrains.
Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $50,364 (base model $42,345)
Seating Capacity: Five
Standard Safety Features: ABS; electronic brake distribution; a vehicle stability control system; a traction control system; a first aid kit; and daytime running lights
Standard Equipment: 18-inch wheels; an 8-speed automatic transmission; rear wheel drive; a power moonroof; LED headlamps; a keyless push button starter ignition system; cruise control; a manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel; and leather-like seats
Optional Features On Test Vehicle: LED headlamps; rain-sensing wipers; automatic dimming mirrors with reverse auto tilt; a leather trimmed interior; heated and ventilated front seats; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel with memory; driver’s seat, mirror and steering column memory; a blindspot monitor with a rear cross traffic alert system; an intuitive park alert system; a backup camera; a 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system; a remote touch interface; an automatic dimming rearview mirror; a trunk mat; a cargo net; wheel locks; illuminated door sills; and a rear bumper applique
Other Trim Level:
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: an 8-speaker /293-watt AM/FM/CD/HD with satellite radio
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/306-hp
Recommended Fuel: Premium
Standard Fuel Mileage:
Why: For those seeking fuel efficiency and a lower price point, the Lexus IS i available with a 4-cylinder, 2.0-liter, which pumps out 241 horses. Pricing for the more fuel efficient IS, which is known as the 200t, starts out the gate at $38,800. That’s approximately $3,500 less for those who are seeking the IS look, but are willing to give up the extra horsepower provided by the 6-cylinder. Unlike in the 4-cylinder model, the 6-cylinder model continues to be available, with both a rear wheel drive and an all-wheel drive system.
Moreover, Lexus has moved forward with offering a standard automatic braking system for the 2017 model year. This feature includes a pre-collision system, a lane departure alert system with steering assist, an automatic high beam headlight system and a high-speed radar-activated cruise control system. All of these standard safety measures were put into place to reduce collision.
Furthermore, the sporty IS not only received some exterior enhancements, but it an available 10-inch infotainment screen is available to accommodate such features as the optional navigation system.
Added to the fun factor, the IS with the optional F-Sport package sharpens the driving manners of this compact luxury sports sedan, with the 6-cylinder powertrain. The F-Sport offers a specially tuned suspension. However, for those still seeking an engaging driving experience we found out IS 350 to be just enough, without having to fork over additional funds.
Overall, the IS provides a non-jarring ride, although in terms of interior and cargo space, it’s a tight-fitting premium compact.
But: While the 2.0-liter is more fuel-efficient, the 4-cylinder engine requires premium fuel. Go figure? Added to our dismay, while the IS now includes the brand’s signature safety system, the electronic blind spot system, with a rear cross traffic alert system, for the back up camera is still considered an option. More so, for those seeking an all-wheel drive configuration, they’ll have to step up the 6-cylinder model.
And lastly, to bring up the rear, so to speak, we’re just not quite ready to be paying $50,000 for an IS. In a market, where consumer buying habits have drastically shifted from cars to crossovers and trucks, Lexus like a number of automakers need to reconsider the pricing.
Verdict: While the third generation IS received an unassuming soft makeover for the 2017 model year, it continues to be a worthy contender to consider in a segment where consumers buying habits has switched. Despite the changing habits of consumers, the IS continues to be a sporty looking, well-mannered compact sedan, which offers the perfect balance of luxury and sportiness, while providing the fit and finish one has come to expect of a vehicle that wears the Lexus name.
Competition: Audi A4; BMW 3-Series; Cadillac ATS; Mercedes-Benz C Class; and Jaguar XE