2009 Lexus IS 250
The 2009 Lexus IS 250 isn't your average family sedan. Lexus says it can fit five occupants, but my family of four would respectfully disagree with that number. I practically had to cram my whole family into the IS 250. After spending a week test-driving it, I think I've found its place in a mom's life: The IS 250 is the car you get once you become an empty-nester.
What makes this the perfect car for when you're on your own? You don't have to share it with anyone, and you won't have to worry about your teen sneaking it out (because they will try, you know it's true). Just think, once the kids are out of the house, you'll be responsible for just you (and maybe your husband); you can finally indulge a little. Yay for you (I think I'm a little jealous)!
If you're still considering the IS 250 for your small family, I understand why you would. With this Lexus you can indulge in luxury car for less dough; the IS 250 has an MSRP of $34,785. Yes, that's a pretty penny to be sure, however, you get leather seats, a moonroof, a fabulous stereo system, all-wheel drive (if you are more of a race-car mama, rear-wheel drive is available, too), and a bevy of safety features. This makes the entry-level IS 250 pretty tantalizing.
The IS 250 is a lot of fun to drive, but I can't help feeling that it should have a manual transmission with its V-6 engine. The automatic with paddle shifters almost makes me forget that I wish the IS 250 had a little more power. I know it's not very, um, fuel-efficient of me, but I must floor the IS 250 everywhere I go to get that goofy, speed-induced grin. Thankfully, this car gets an EPA-estimated 20/26 mpg city/highway, so I can feel less guilty when I floor it. The IS 250 also has responsive brakes and steering. As a result, the IS 250 made me happiest when it was just me and her, with no complaints of car sickness from the backseat.
The IS 250 is a sporty-looking four-door number that looks completely different in different colors. My silver test car was sharp-looking, but even sharper was a black IS 250 I saw while driving around in the IS. It looks beautiful in every color offered, but the color really changes the vibe of the car.
Regardless of color, I love the way the IS 250 looks. The front is aggressive-looking, while the rear end has lovely taillights and nice lines. Much of the time, a car's rear looks neglected by its designers. That's not so with the IS 250. The reverse lights are L-shaped and match the logo's lines. Love it.
I also liked the power-folding and heated side mirrors. It's one of those wonderful luxuries that you don't want to live without.
There aren't any visibility problems in the IS 250. My kids didn't have any problems getting in or out of the IS 250, but the complaints started once they were situated inside.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove On
The kids liked the IS 250 best when it was just me and only one of them in the car; otherwise they felt cramped when they were both in the backseat. You know who else will feel cramped? The person sitting in front of a rear-facing infant-safety seat. The Latch connectors are easy to locate and access (they're under a leather flap), but you'll likely be driving with your knees at your chin if you have an infant seat in back of you. Yes, the IS 250 would probably still be a kick to drive in that scenario, but it's less than ideal, people. If you have one child, you're golden. Have two and ... well, you know where I'm going with this. Maybe consider the IS 250 as a second car.
The seat belts were deceiving because they seemed to be recessed, which is a big hurdle for smaller kids trying to buckle themselves in. I was getting ready to gripe when the receptors came out from their little recessed hole, making my complaint almost moot. I say almost moot because some kids - most likely kids who are new to booster seats - will struggle with the flimsy receptors.
Once I got the kids off to school, I had some me-time in the IS 250 and found there's a lot to like. I love the layout of the interior because everything was within reach. The center stack has a simplistic design to it. I was insanely, perfectly comfortable in the eight-way power-adjustable leather seats, too. I also was relieved that my test car didn't have a navigation system; a navigation system with a backup camera is available. I know it's my job to review these technological wonders and report back to you, but navigation systems really make me crazy. It was so refreshing to get into a nicely appointed, beautiful car and not be confronted with screens forcing me to press a button to accept that driving while nav-ing is dangerous just so I can get to the stereo controls.
I think the IS 250 liked it best when it was just the two of us because she only has one cupholder that's easily accessible in the front seat. The second cupholder is in the center console, under the lid. This isn't a travesty, given many who buy this car probably won't use it as a family truckster. However, consider yourself warned.
The IS 250 has one of my favorite over-the-top test car features: ventilated seats. Ventilated seats mitigate the argument against black-colored leather seats that become hot in the sun and burn the backs of your thighs. Yes, the argument that black leather scuffs too easily and shows too much gunk is still relevant, but I'm sure Lexus is working on that. Right, Lexus?
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
Writing a Lexus review always means there's a long list of safety features to discuss, and the IS 250 is no different. The IS 250 comes with antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system. It has eight airbags, including front-, side-impact and side curtain airbags, as well as knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. The power windows have pinch protection to protect little fingers.
I've invented a game called the Mystery Button. Whenever I get a test car, I find a button that no one can figure out what it does. Trust me, every car has one, and it can take awhile to figure out the mystery button's purpose. In the IS 250, the mystery button is for the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. This is a great feature that uses radar to detect a car in front of you. If a car is detected, the IS 250 will reduce its speed to keep your car at a safe distance. This allows you to use cruise control more effectively when there are other cars on the road.
An optional Pre-Collision System also uses radar to detect impending collisions. The system tenses up the seat belts and preloads the brakes if it senses a collision.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||September 30, 2008|
|Sara Lacey||Mother Proof||June 5, 2009|
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