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2.0-liter turbocharged, DOHC I-4, absolute injection, CVVT, (241 application @ 5,800 rpm; 258 lbs-ft @ 1,650-4,400 rpm)
22 city/32 highway/26 accumulated (EPA Rating, MPG)
24.6 (Observed, MPG)
Base Price: $38,275*
As Tested: $45,065*
* Prices accommodate $950 destination charge.
Lexus has tended to adopt bourgeois architecture in about every aspect of artefact development. Words like reliable and dependable usually bounce to apperception afore adventurous or exciting.
Yet, the cast has been aggravating to change that over the aftermost few years with love-it-or-hate-it designs; in particular, Lexus’ new “Predator mouth.” The changes aren’t artlessly bark deep. The current-generation IS auto additionally stepped alfresco the affluence brand’s abundance breadth with aciculate administration and a focus on dynamics. Of course, this is Lexus we’re talking about, so this change in a added aggressive direction is accident at, you estimated it, a bourgeois pace.
Now in its third year of production, the third-generation IS isn’t accepting a brace like we’d about see in from ze Germans. Instead, Lexus has absitively to focus its attention beneath the awning with a new turbocharged four-cylinder agent and a de-tuned V-6 for mid-level shoppers.
Can a active drivetrain advice the IS angle out in a awash segment? Let’s acquisition out.
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ExteriorWith a swoopy ancillary contour and the ginormous (and thankfully optional) F-sport grille, the IS continues to be the best alive advantage in the baby affluence segment. Although the appearance isn’t my cup of tea, I accept to admit that polarizing designs arm-twist added affect from those that adulation the look. (Believe it or not, there are some that adulation it.) For me, the Cadillac ATS’ angular architecture is the best adorable in the segment, followed by the new Mercedes C-Class at number two. I aloof haven’t broiled up to the Lexus daytime active lamps, which are now afar from the headlamps and accept their own cut-out in the bonanza cover. Lexus says they are styled afterwards the Lexus “L” but they aloof attending like Nike “Swooshes” to my eye.
InteriorFront bench abundance accepted able during my week, calmly besting the abject seats in the Audi, Mercedes, Cadillac and BMW. However, the Infiniti Q50 and Volvo S60 are more added comfortable in abject models. Aback it comes to upper-level trims, the IS lags the Germans: Lexus still doesn’t action four-way lumbar support, articulating bench backs or extending thigh cushions. Rear legroom had been a long-time IS shortcoming and, although the IS was continued appreciably aback in 2013, the Q50, A4 and 3-Series all accommodate added allowance for association in the rear.
The interior styling of the IS is a abandonment from the sedate dashboards apparent in the European sedans. Parts affection is abundantly commensurable to the big players in the segment, but the beefy dashboard and heavily styled autogenous panels aftermath a added cockpit-like feel against an open and aerial cabin. The 7-inch LCD apparatus array in F-Sport models is an absorbing draft in this segment, but it’s not as agitative as the 12-inch units that are acceptable added common.
InfotainmentAlthough I couldn’t acquisition a distinct archetype on a dealer’s lot, the abject IS 200t with no options is the alone way you can escape the abominable Lexus Remote Draft joystick. All added models use a baby ambassador with haptic acknowledgment to ascendancy a software interface originally advised for use with a touchscreen LCD. I acquisition the ambassador requires far added absorption and “eyes-off-the-road” time aback compared to a rotary ambassador a la Audi MMI. Behindhand of the ascribe method, all IS models get a 7-inch blush LCD positioned far abroad from the driver. The ambit from the disciplinarian and the ample artificial bezel cabal to accomplish the awning attending abundant abate than it is. The botheration is added circuitous by the awning absolutely being smaller than the up-level systems in the competition.
Twenty-fourteen brought mild software updates to infotainment software: HD Radio abutment and cartage advice via HD radio so you don’t charge an XM cable to get a color-coded cartage map. Admitting the updates, however, the software’s interface seems abaft the times in agreement of appearance and adjustment of input. On the ablaze side, the Lexus touchpad interface we see in the NX has not fabricated a adornment in this cabin.
DrivetrainObviously, the acumen we adopted the IS was to sample the all-new 2-liter turbo. This is about the aforementioned engine we aboriginal saw in the NX 200t, but rotated 90 degrees and akin to an eight-speed transmission. The circling and freer breath bumps adeptness to 241 application while torque charcoal the aforementioned at 258 lbs-ft. Lexus uses a capricious valve timing arrangement that allows the engine to about-face amid Otto and Atkinson cycles in adjustment to aerate efficiency. A different bang arrangement that combines anchorage and absolute bang and is also featured on the 200t. According to the EPA, the new drivetrain delivers 26 accumulated mpg, which is two bigger than the IS 250, but still two shy of the BMW 320i and three abaft the Volvo S60.
The new turbo agent and all-wheel drive are mutually absolute for affidavit I don’t absolutely understand. Instead of a turbo AWD archetypal with an 8-speed auto like we had hoped for, Lexus created a new, mid-level archetypal alleged the IS 300 AWD using a de-tuned 3.5-liter V-6 making 255 application and 236 lb-ft of torque. The IS 300 makes do with ye olde six-speed, but Lexus will advertise you an IS 300 AWD F-Sport to abate the blow.
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DriveThe aftermost time I sampled the old IS 250, I acclaimed that it was by far the smoothest access akin powerplant in America, alike while the agent didn’t accept the aforementioned akin of balance begin in the competition. As I said then: Sadly clarification isn’t what propels you to 60, so aback the ablaze turns blooming you’ll accept a buzz quiet appearance of the competition’s rear bumper. This is in theory why the IS 200t was created. But there is a problem.
On paper, 241 application sent through an 8-speed automated to the rear auto and alveolate against 3,583 pounds of barrier weight shouldn’t be abundant slower than the 240 horsepower, 3,370 batter BMW 328i. Unfortunately, we don’t drive cars on paper. In the absolute world, the IS 200t is a abounding 1.1 abnormal slower to 60. We lose the aboriginal 7/10ths afore either car hits 30 afar per hour. This is due to a few factors.
The able aboriginal accessory arrangement of 14.8:1 in the IS 200t is about the aforementioned as the 14.4:1 in the 328i, but BMW’s 2-liter turbo produces best torque across a rev range 30-percent broader than the Lexus turbo mill, and ZF’s eight-speed has a lower added gear. Amid 30 and 60 mph, the BMW assets an added 4/10ths on the Lexus acknowledgment to the broader powerband and the actuality that BMW’s baby agent acceptable puts out added than 240 ponies.
While the IS 200t’s dispatch is a notable advance over the IS 250, it’s a actual bourgeois improvement. These numbers additionally beggarly that the 200t added anon competes with the 180 application BMW 320i, which able the aforementioned assignment 3/10ths of a second slower than the Lexus yet withdraws four-thousand beneath dollars from your coffer account.
Fuel abridgement is addition breadth area cardboard and absoluteness are at odds. According to the EPA, the 2016 IS 200t array two afar per gallon bigger than the 2015 IS 250 on the accumulated cycle. In my tests, though, the two were about the same. The 2014 IS 250 beat the EPA account by two afar per gallon while the IS 200t fell aloof shy of the 26 mpg total.
Throw the IS 200t into a bend and it starts to redeem itself. Every arrangement in the baby sedan feels like a aggregation player. The eight-speed auto is a accommodating ball accomplice and has been programmed to authority apparatus in chiral approach alike if you administer abounding throttle. While the IS still isn’t the hardcore, corner-carving apparatus you’ll acquisition in the ATS 2.0T, the Lexus artlessly feels added adapted and counterbalanced on the road. The abeyance tune in the F-Sport is close but not punishing, the council is absolute and able-bodied weighted. On the bottomward side, Lexus doesn’t accord the F-Sport adaptation of the 200t the capricious arrangement council or the adaptive abeyance that the F-Sport amalgamation includes with the 350. The capricious council can be an acquired taste, but it allows the IS to feel added acknowledging at low speeds while eliminating the “twitchy” activity that some action sedans accept on the highway.
Push the Lexus adamantine in a corner and the tires accord way in a anticipated and aloof manner. Do the aforementioned in the accepted 3-series and you’ll be afraid with added understeer and anatomy cycle than in the Lexus. While the antecedent 3-Series was absolute and engaging, BMW has afresh accomplished that a softer ride and bigger aback bench advice move added metal. Meanwhile, the Audi A4 and Volvo S60 break like a John Deere aback they appointment a coil in the road.
As acceleration, attention and address don’t consistently get you about a clue faster, and because best of the competition’s 2-liter turbos advance conspicuously faster, they are acceptable to exhausted the IS 200t on annihilation but a actual small, bound track.
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The administration adeptness and Lexus’ well-deserved acceptability for dependability, believability and low aliment costs are able affairs points, behindhand of the apathetic acceleration. In the past, addition able affairs point of the IS auto was a low MSRP with the old IS 250 undercutting the BMW 320i by about $2,000.
Pricing in the 2016 IS is a complicated affair. Things alpha at $37,325 for a abject 200t and $40,870 for a abject 200t F-Sport. While Lexus does accommodate $3,300 added accepted accessories than you’ll acquisition in a abject 3-Series, the eyes are that the BMW starts $4,175 lower. Since the Lexus is faster than the 320i, the about $900 basin amid analogously configured models is a reasonable bulk to pay, but Lexus should apperceive that low MSRPs get added anxiety in the door. The added botheration with the appraisement arrangement is that the BMW 328i is aloof $1,000 added than the IS 200t admitting assuming added like the IS 300.
I’ve continued had a bendable atom for Lexus (I acclaim a 1993 Lexus LS 400 for sparking my absorption in cars) but the IS 200t bootless to angle out in this awash segment. Administration dynamics — like believability and assurance — aloof don’t seem to accelerate the arcade accessible anymore, authoritative the agitation spots in the IS like infotainment and dispatch added glaring. While I accept little agnosticism that the bourgeois architecture appearance at Lexus will accomplish the IS 200t one of the best reliable and everyman cost-to-own turbo affluence sedans, that abstemiousness leaves me anxious for the turbo IS that could accept been. (Note to Lexus: please, please, amuse twin-turbo the 3.5-liter V-6, pronto.) Until Lexus injects some of the affection that spawned the astronomic F-Sport grille in the account aloft into their drivetrain R&D department, alike this new IS is destined to comedy third fiddle.
Lexus provided the vehicle, allowance and one catchbasin of gas for this review.
Specifications as tested:
0-30 mph: 2.8 seconds
0-60 mpg: 6.8 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.9 abnormal @ 96 mph
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