We’ve been scratching our heads for seemingly an eternity regarding the anemic 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 in the Lexus IS 250 sedan that never moved the sedan quickly or efficiently in a segment where turbocharged four-cylinders abound. Ponder no longer, because the V-6 and IS 250 are gone for 2016 replaced with a more powerful and more efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine that takes a competitive step — at least in specifications — toward the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.
Related: 2015 Lexus IS 250 Expert Review
Called the IS 200t, the 241-hp four-cylinder pairs exclusively with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder’s roots are in the Lexus NX 200t SUV where the turbo engine debuted, and it’s modified for the IS sedan, making 6 more horsepower. Lexus says the engine is good for zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, which is almost a full second faster than the IS 250’s 7.7-second time.
Fuel economy is also improved with a bump of 2 mpg in combined ratings from the outgoing V-6. Lexus estimates ratings of 22/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined that beat the outgoing 2.5-liter’s 21/30/24 mpg.
Buyers will still have an all-wheel-drive option below the premier IS 350 in another new trim level, the IS 300 AWD. The IS 300 AWD uses a 3.5-liter-V-6 making 255 horsepower and is the middle-powered engine between the IS 200t’s 241-hp four-cylinder and 306-hp V-6 in the IS 350. Previous IS sedans never received the eight-speed automatic with all-wheel drive, and they won’t for 2016, either. The IS 300 AWD and IS 350 AWD use a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the IS 300 AWD is estimated at 19/26/21 mpg, which is the same as the IS 350 with all-wheel drive.
Also discontinued for 2016 is the IS 250 hardtop convertible, a Lexus representative confirmed. However, there’s still dealership inventory of the 2015 hardtop.
Packaging is tweaked for 2016 and a heated steering wheel is now available as a stand-alone option, while a new Premium Plus Package includes a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers. Lexus’ Enform Service Connect is optional too.
Expect the 2016 IS sedan lineup to go on sale this fall.