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#5

in Upscale Midsize Cars

MSRP: $36,550 - $47,240
Invoice: $33,994 - $43,932
MPG: 21 City / 30 Hwy
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Lexus IS Performance

Test drivers write that the base 2015 Lexus IS 250 has disappointing power and fuel economy compared to its rivals. The IS 350’s fuel economy is also unimpressive, but critics note that it has strong acceleration. The Lexus IS’ comfortable ride and sharp steering impress reviewers. However, some point out that it’s not quite as agile as competitors like the BMW 3-Series.

  • "Naturally, driving enthusiasts will always have a soft spot for well-mannered sedans that turn into purebred performance machines when you give them the spurs. So they may lament that the IS 350 isn't quite that kind of car, although its strong, ultrarefined V6 engine is an undeniable pleasure to operate." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2015 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 are about as quick as their competition in a straight line, and when the road bends, the suspension is ready for action." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's true that the IS 350 isn't quite a dynamic match for segment leaders like the BMW 335i in a high-performance, race track setting. But for most shoppers, track driving won't matter. To that end, the IS combines refinement that's close to the Mercedes C-Class with drivability that's close to the BMW 3-Series." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "On curvy roads the new IS is much improved over the outgoing model, with surprisingly great feel from its electronic steering; on the track though, some of the old IS enthusiastic turn-in has been lost." -- MSN Autos (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Lexus IS 250 sedan and convertible have a 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V6 engine, while IS 350 models come with a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard in every model except for the rear-wheel drive IS 350, which has an eight-speed automatic. According to the EPA, the 2015 Lexus IS 250 gets 21/30 mpg city/highway, which is low for the class. Four-cylinder rivals like the BMW 328i and Audi A4 make more horsepower and get better fuel economy. At 19/28 mpg city/highway, the IS 350 also gets lower fuel economy than similarly powered rivals.

According to some critics, the Lexus IS 250 has sufficient power for merging and passing on the highway. However, automotive journalists write that the IS 350 delivers impressive acceleration.

  • "The IS 250 is powered by a 2.5-liter V6 that makes 204 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. That's less muscle than many competitors' base engines offer, and its mileage of 21 city/30 highway mpg (20/27 mpg with AWD) is similarly unimpressive." -- Left Lane News
  • "In terms of power, the 2.5-liter and 3.5-liter V6 engines offer plenty of thrust for passing and merging." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The six-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic are smooth and quiet, but the recent increase and success of equally potent turbocharged four-cylinder engines in other sedans has made the aging Lexus engine seem weak and inefficient in comparison." -- Edmunds (2014 IS 250)
  • "Burying the accelerator pedal gives you a nice, satisfying blast of acceleration that will put you at extralegal speeds in no time." -- Jalopnik (2014 IS 350)

Handling and Braking

The 2015 Lexus IS sedan and convertible come standard with rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available on the sedan. Test drivers say the IS sedan has a comfortable ride and sharper steering than most rivals. However, auto writers note that cars like the Cadillac ATS and BMW 3-Series still feel more nimble. They also point out that F Sport models, which come with a sport-tuned suspension, offer only slightly better handling.

  • "Out on the road, meanwhile, we've declared the car's steering to be class-leading for its natural feel and remarkable precision." -- Edmunds
  • "For more bite, the IS F Sport models add an array of sport-oriented hardware, but without more than a marginal increase in real-world performance, the $3,000 package is a tough sell." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It is a bit more nose-heavy than key competitors such as the BMW 3 Series and Cadillac ATS, which causes it to understeer when really pushed into tight turns. But most people will never come close to driving the IS hard enough to even notice." -- Forbes (2014)
  • "Being a Lexus, the ride quality errs on the side of comfort, but it's still sporting enough to transmit a good amount of road feel through the car." -- Jalopnik (2014)
Review Last Updated: 10/22/14

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