The IS sedan is Lexus' latest attempt to field a sporty four-door that rivals BMW's well-regarded 3 Series. The IS 250 is the only IS to offer optional all-wheel drive; rear-wheel drive is standard. Competitors include the BMW 328i, Audi A4 2.0T and Mercedes-Benz C300; the more powerful IS 350 plays against beefier versions of those same cars.
The IS 250 comes with a 2.5-liter V-6; the IS 350 and its 3.5-liter V-6 are covered separately in the Cars.com Research section, as is the V-8 powered IS-F, which debuted for 2008.
New for 2009
Previously only available on the IS 350, Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system has been added to the 2009 IS 250. It integrates all of the car's dynamic controls (steering, brakes, stability control and throttle) for better handling.
Lexus' recent LF-series concept cars influenced the IS 250's styling. The company says the latest IS bears a strong family resemblance to its larger, GS series of sport sedans. A long wheelbase and wide stance help give the IS 250 a muscular look. An optional X Package includes a sport suspension, sport pedals and a front lip spoiler. It also swaps the standard 17-inch wheels for 18-inchers.
- 17-inch wheels
- Available 18-inch wheels
- Available high-intensity discharge headlights
- Available rain-sensing wipers
- 107.5-inch wheelbase
- 180.1 inches long overall
- 56.1 inches high
Up to five occupants fit inside the IS 250. Bright electroluminescent instruments light up the dashboard. Metallic trim is standard, and maple trim is available. The center gauge cluster has been redesigned for 2009.
- 10-way power front seats
- Dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents
- Power moonroof
- Manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel (powered version available)
- 13-speaker sound system includes an auxiliary input for portable music players
- Available ventilated front seats
- Available dynamic radar cruise control
- Available navigation system that incorporates a backup camera
Under the Hood
A six-speed manual transmission is standard in the IS 250, and a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The automatic's steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters give the driver extra involvement when desired. When equipped with the manual transmission, Lexus says the sedan can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. The automatic transmission is standard on the all-wheel-drive model.
- 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 with 185 pounds-feet of torque
- Double-wishbone front suspension
- Multilink rear suspension
- AWD models send 70 percent of torque to the rear tires by default
An optional Pre-Collision System uses radar to detect impending collisions. If it does, it can tense up the seat belts and preload the brakes for maximum stopping power. Adaptive headlights that swivel in the direction of wheel travel are available. Standard safety features include:
- Antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system
- Knee airbags for both front occupants
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags for both rows