Lexus IS

Car Review: Lexus IS (2005-2012)

The second generation Lexus IS is certainly a major step up for Toyota’s luxury brand and has plenty to boast about. The modest good looks are not as flashy as the BMW, but then again you don’t want to be the target of cops pulling you over every time you leave the house. So let’s take a look at the Lexus IS close up.  

Lexus IS

The Good

1. Mega comfort inside with soft, memory-leather heated/ventilated seats

2. Top of the range interior trim expected from Toyota’s luxury brand

3. Available in 2.5 or 3.5 liter V6 engines, or a 5.0 V8 engine. Also 2.2 liter Diesel

4. Available as 6-speed manual or automatic, or an 8-speed automatic (ISF) in the V8 engine

5. Available as a 4-door sedan from 2005 or 2-door convertible coupe from 2009

6. Look for the top quality Mark Levinson upgraded sound system (which was an option)

7. Optioned touchscreen navigation with back-up camera and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

8. Quiet cabin and smooth drive

9. Renowned Toyota reliability

10. Smart Access Key-less entry and push-button start

11. Available in AWD (All-wheel drive)

12. 13 cubic feet of trunk space in the sedan

12. Tire pressure warning system monitors the wheels for low pressure

13. Shift paddle on the steering wheel for convenient ease of use when needed

14. Steering wheel intuitively adjusts and retracts when you turn the car off to easily get out

15. There are five different trim levels, but even the basic one has plenty of kit

16. The Lexus IS has a timing chain (not a rubber belt)

17. There are eight airbags including airbags to protect the knees of front seat occupants

18. The convertible has generously proportioned rear seats

Lexus IS

The Bad

1. The IS250 has a niggling pause when accelerating with the foot down

2. Rear view vision is restricted by the over-lapping head rests on the back seats

3. Leg room is a little tight for people sitting in the back seats

4. Space-saver spare wheel

The Essentials

You will find the hand brake is now a foot brake which you press to take off and press again to engage which I think works well. Some models rev a little high, so check what the right amount is before going to see one for a test drive. A few complaints have come from owners of the diesel engine concerning head gasket, turbo and catalytic converter failure, so make sure they are thoroughly checked in a pre-purchase inspection. There are no recalls listed with Kelley Blue Book which is good news, but a car is only as good as the driver and how they care for it – again make sure it has a service history (even part history is better than none if full is not available). Steer away from getting larger wheels with thin tires as this only makes for a harsh, uncomfortable ride and higher levels of road noise. If you are the lucky recipient of a model with the Mark Levinson sound system, feel good in the knowledge that engineers spent hundreds of combined hours tweaking and getting the sound perfect from all angles inside the cabin.

The Alternatives

Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2002-2015), Audi A4 V6 (2004-2016), Honda Accord V6 (2007-2012), Volkswagen Passat (2005-2015), Jaguar XJ (2009-2016)

The Verdict

9 out of 10

For luxury features and design, the Lexus has done Toyota proud. My pick of engines would be the 3.5 liter V6 for that extra power boost while enjoying the superior luxury of the interior with the sunroof open pumping out the Mark Levinson upgraded sound system. This is a car to be experienced in person.

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