2008 Lexus IS250 Review

Megan Benoit
by Megan Benoit
2008 lexus is250 review

The Lexus IS250 is a chick car. Funny that. Its predecessor, the IS300, was such a guy car. In fact, every time I see a male of the species behind the wheel of a Lexus IS, I check my theory by scoping the badge. Sure enough: it's an IS350. Strange. The IS250 is a great entry-level luxury car. While it's slower than the 350, not everyone [s]can afford to pay that much[/s] needs that sort of power. So why aren't more guys driving one?

On the outside, the IS250 is a Toyota Camry that's had some work done. The curves are tighter and less bulbous, the lines flow better, the taillights smirk a little bit more, and the front end doesn't make you vomit in your mouth a little. Despite the most transcendental color I've ever seen on a car ("Breakwater Blue Metallic"), the IS250 remains a perfect Lexus: uninspiring but attractive. If only Toyota could make all their brands so handsome (I'm looking at you Scion).

Inside, you wear– rather than sit on– the IS250's supple leather seats. Provided genetics are working in your favor, the glove-like thrones offer an irresistible embrace. Every interior surface feels soft and inviting, begging to be touched and stroked and savored. There's buttery smooth leather, cool precise steel, firm but yielding plastic… I'm sorry, where was I? Yes, the cabin.

I'm tempted to deploy a Lexus cliché and compare the IS250 to a living room. But as I mostly hang with grad students and the lower middle class, I haven't seen a chillatorium that even comes close. Throw in a flat screen and a Wii the interior's non-incarcerational Hotel California: you can sit down any time you like, but you'll never want to leave.

The interior seats two happy adults and two pissed-off passengers. The rear smashes legs so badly that Lexus had to scoop out space in the front seats for occupants' knees and shins, lest the trip end with your patellas and the driver's kidneys getting restraining orders.

Push the IS250's start button (keyless ignition, ‘natch) and the engine purrs to life. It sounds like a kitten, and it is, with only 204hp underhood. That may seem like a lot of power for a cramped four-seater, but the V6 mill's got 3435 pounds of rear wheel-drive Lexus to motivate. Zero to sixty takes a shade under eight seconds. To the average Joe– I mean Jane "moving up" from her Corolla, it's bitchin'. For anyone used to what we speed demons like to call a lick of speed, the IS350.

In fact, the IS250 only two advantages over the IS350 (since their gas mileage is nearly identical). Price and a manual transmission. In keeping with the Lexus tradition, the IS250's slick six-speed stick shift makes driving easy, not fun.

The IS250 lives up to the Lexus bland… er, brand… with its comfortable, smooth, easygoing ride. The suspension poses a real danger to the local animal population; they'll disappear under the IS250's tires without the driver hearing or feeling a thing. Road noise? Bah! The interior insulates so well you'll wonder if you're ambling along in a Prius.

The IS250's combination of the cozy interior and cushy ride is a narcoleptic's worst nightmare; the driving dynamics sure as heck won't keep them awake. Throw the IS250 around a corner and it handles… gracefully. While I'm sure the baby Lexus understeers like a battleship at the limit, who knows? There's nowhere near enough power to create the sort of stark terror that keeps the IS350 driver awake.

Maybe that's why the IS250's a chick car: guys crave danger, excitement. Clearly, your mother-in-law isn't going to whip this puppy around a corner at top speed, heel-and-toe a perfect downshift, and run it up to the redline (at least my mother-in-law wouldn't… come to think of it, if she did, we might get along better). Lexus built an IS250 that's safe and comfortable. And safe. And comfortable. Just the way their customers like it.

But wait, there's more! The IS250's option sheet will prove your wallet's undoing, and there are more airbags than the DNC.

Even in base trim, every iinch of the IS250 is well-appointed, smooth and satisfactory; it's miles above cars like the Acura TSX and Volvo S60. Buick? Don't make me laugh. In fact, the IS250 is perfect– as in "a perfect night's sleep." There's not a gram of excitement to be had in the whole car.

Whether you've got a Y chromosome or not or not, the Lexus IS250 is the single best entry-level luxury car for people who don't like driving. For anyone whose blood panel workups include an octane rating, it's unnervingly dull. You'll enjoy every pampered, luxurious minute, and then curse yourself for doing so. And then you'll lapse into a coma. Hang on; are we there already?

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  • Rain Rain on Aug 17, 2010

    This car is way too comfortable for my tastes lol. I can see why someone who doesn't fully enjoy driving and simply wants to get to Point A to Point B as comfortably as possible: 1. Soft, quiet driving experience / 2. Luxurious and relaxing interior / 3. Convenient and useful gadgets to play around with / 4. Lexus reliability. The IS 250, especially AWD is no performance vehicle. Definitely a chick car or a man who simply prefers a sporty-looking but comfortable ride. If it were me though, I'd simply get the ES.

  • Chikoo Chikoo on Sep 08, 2010

    I test drove a 2008 infiniti G35s, bmw 335i, bmw 328i and an IS250. I finally settled on a Black / Black 2008 IS250 with 225 front and 255 rear tires (the sport ones) with the tech pkg (Nav + rear Camera). Why? It is smooth, it is light and the steering is very nimble. The turns I took in the Infiniti and the BMW, I could do the same in the IS250 with no drama. It just does it. Cramped? I feel cozy. I guess it depends upon the frame of mind. Maybe some are inherently claustrophobic. Btw, Car and Driver test reveals that the IS250 beats the BMW 335i in the Slaloms, albeit by a small margin. but it still beat it. And I am a guy.

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