See Anything You Like? Next-generation Lexus IS Looms

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

I must make a confession. Of all the vehicles on the market today — a diverse crowd if there ever was one — no car’s rear end annoys me more than that of the Lexus IS.

The brand’s sporty compact offering went in a controversial direction for its third generation, entering the 2014 model year with half-melted ice cream cone styling. Seems the taillights suffered worst from the heat, as the red plastic managed to bleed nearly all the way down to the rear wheel well. And the first-gen was so clean!

For Gen 4, it seems Lexus is prepared to correct this mistake.

A teaser image has landed of the revamped 2021 IS ahead of its June 9th debut — a reveal that would have taken place in Detroit, had a certain spiky virus not jumped from the animal kingdom to humans.

While little can be seen of the IS sedan, one feature Lexus thought important enough to highlight happens to the one that caused your author so much nausea and anguish these past several years. For ’21, the IS dons an uninterrupted, full-width taillight — a feature Corey would label “heckblende” despite that being an awful word no one should ever use. Let’s hope the unit and all associated plastic remains in its own neighborhood.

For the first time in a while, there’s sedan excitement in the air. Last week saw the debut of Acura’s slinky new TLX, which represents a concerted effort on behalf of the brand to rekindle interest in attainable premium three-box sport. Time will tell if Lexus put as much thought into the new IS.

The model that brought us Altezza taillights two decades ago has, like the TLX and earlier TL, seen its fortunes wax and wane over the past twenty years. The third-gen IS’ debut year of 2014 saw the model hit a post-recession high, though the peak was lower than that seen in 2007. Last year, the aging sedan recorded its lowest sales volume since 2005, with just 14,920 units leaving lots.

That’s less than a third of the sales the IS enjoyed back in 2014.

Currently offered in (2.0-liter) four-cylinder IS 300 and (3.5-liter) V6 IS 350 guise, with either rear- or all-wheel drive, the model offers F Sport variants of each of its models. V6 engines are becoming harder to find in Toyota products, as well as in similarly sized rivals, which could mean the new IS either stands apart or joins the crowd. Lexus has always had one wary eye on the Germans, meaning it’s likely to keep V6 power under hood if at all possible.

As well, given parent corp Toyota’s desire to (finally) be seen as a purveyor of exciting products, the pressure will be on to offer something with impressive specs. Will a hybrid show up, too? Another good question; it would be in line with Lexus’ product direction, for sure.

[Images: Lexus, © Timothy Cain/TTAC]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Trucky McTruckface Trucky McTruckface on Jun 01, 2020

    "For the first time in a while, there’s sedan excitement in the air. Last week saw the debut of Acura’s slinky new TLX, which represents a concerted effort on behalf of the brand to rekindle interest in attainable premium three-box sport. Time will tell if Lexus put as much thought into the new IS.." Are we really pretending that the new TLX is a competitive product that's going to upset this segment? Please. It's a front wheel drive Honda Accord with carryover styling from the old car. It's embarrassing that it took the company an additional three years to update to the current Honda platform. Most car buyers won't be able to tell it's a new model, and that's a major fail right out of the box. The single-scroll turbo V6 is vaporware for the time being, since Acura didn't release numbers, but I have a hard time believing it'll keep up with the twin turbo engines everyone else is offering. The interior doesn't belong in an entry luxury car and while they finally got rid of that stupid dual screen infotainment setup, they appear to have benchmarked Lexus to replace it - not good.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Jun 02, 2020

    I've driven the current IS in 350 and 250 form. The 350 is more than adequate, the 2.5L 250 is an absolute dog. With them having axed the GS :( I assume the IS will be moved a little up-market, with the NX/UX taking more of the lease-bait crowd. IS500? tell me more!

  • Hermaphroditolog Good hybrid cars use ICE implosion mode.Mercedes-EQXX uses implosion turbines (turboexpanders) for regeneration from heat losses.
  • Kosmo I, for one, and maybe only one, would buy a 5.0 L, stickshift variant of the sedan/hatchback that is Ford's "Not A Mustang EV" tomorrow.I'd buy the sportwagon version yesterday.
  • Akear I am counting the days when Barra retires. She has been one long nightmare for GM. People don't realize the Malibu outsells all GM EVs combined.
  • Redapple2 you say; most car reviewers would place it behind the segment stalwarts from Honda and Toyota,........................... ME: Always so. Every single day since the Accord / Camry introduction.
  • Akear GM sells only 3000 Hummer EVs annually. It is probably the worst selling vehicle in GM history.
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