The five-seat IS 250 sedan and four-seat IS 250C convertible are Lexus' sporty rivals to the BMW 1 Series and 3 Series. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional on the sedan. Competitors include the BMW 128i and 328i, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C300. The more powerful IS 350 plays against beefier versions of those same cars.
The IS 250 and 250C come 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.
(Skip to details on the: IS 250C)
New for 2012
There are no significant changes for 2012.
Lexus' LF-series concept cars influenced the IS 250's styling. A long wheelbase and wide stance help give the IS 250 a muscular look.
An optional F Sport Package for the sedan includes a sport suspension, 18-inch wheels and front and rear spoilers. Exterior features include:
- Standard 17-inch alloy wheels
- Optional 18-inch alloy wheels
- Optional xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights
- Optional rain-sensing windshield wipers
- Optional backup camera, front and rear parking sensors
Up to five occupants can fit inside the IS 250 sedan, though the backseat is tight. Bright electroluminescent instruments light up the dashboard. Black metallic trim is standard.
The optional navigation system's voice-recognition software picks up casual-language commands, and the standard stereo has a USB port to better integrate iPods or other MP3 players. Lexus' Enform service, included with the navigation system, can assist in finding street addresses, restaurants and more. It comes with a year of free service; after that, you have to pay a monthly subscription fee. Interior features include:
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- Power moonroof
- Manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel (power version optional)
- 13-speaker stereo
- Optional heated and ventilated front seats
Under the Hood
A six-speed manual transmission is standard in the IS 250, and a six-speed automatic is optional. The automatic's steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters give the driver extra involvement when desired. Lexus says the rear-wheel-drive sedan can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. The automatic is the only transmission offered on all-wheel-drive models. Mechanical features include:
- 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 with 185 pounds-feet of torque
- Double-wishbone front suspension
- Multilink rear suspension
- All-wheel-drive models send 70 percent of power to the rear wheels by default; they can automatically route power 50/50 (front/rear) on low-traction surfaces like snow or ice
Lexus' Safety Connect service, which automatically notifies authorities in the event of a crash, is standard. Like Enform, a year's service is included, but after that you'll have to pay a subscription. Standard safety features include:
- All-disc antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system
- Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management, which is meant to integrate all systems to anticipate skids and react faster than an electronic stability system alone
- Knee airbags for both front occupants
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags for both rows
The IS 250C convertible has a retractable hardtop that Lexus says can operate in just 21 seconds. The four-seat interior features anti-glare gauges, plus audio and climate systems that automatically adjust their settings to compensate for top-down noise and temperatures. Other safety and luxury features remain similar to those on the IS 250 sedan. However, the IS 250C convertible is not available with all-wheel drive. Back to top