2016 Lexus IS 200t Review - Lexus Finally Goes Turbo

Lexus has tended to prefer conservative design in almost every aspect of product development. Words like reliable and dependable usually spring to mind before sporty or exciting.

Yet, the brand has been trying to change that over the last few years with love-it-or-hate-it designs; in particular, Lexus’ new “Predator mouth.” The changes aren’t simply skin deep. The current-generation IS sedan also stepped outside the luxury brand’s comfort zone with sharp handling and a focus on dynamics. Of course, this is Lexus we’re talking about, so this change in a more aggressive direction is happening at, you guessed it, a conservative pace.

Now in its third year of production, the third-generation IS isn’t getting a refresh like we’d typically see in from ze Germans. Instead, Lexus has decided to focus its attention under the hood with a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a de-tuned V-6 for mid-level shoppers.

Can a refreshed drivetrain help the IS stand out in a crowded segment? Let’s find out.

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2015 Lexus IS 350 F Sport Review (With Video)

BMW moved over 140,000 3-Series’ last year in America. They didn’t do this by being the most luxurious option or by being the best handling option. (The truth is hard to hear, I’m sorry.) Instead, BMW did this by doing exactly what shoppers asked for; luxury car buyers want a comfy ride with a luxury logo on the front, good fuel economy and to read reviews that extol the track-day virtues of their car of choice. The average buyer will never be on a track, but it’s critical to know your car belongs there.

What BMW dealers don’t want you to know: there are two sedans in this segment that are arguably better on the track than a 328i or 335i and we’re talking about one of them today, the IS 350 F Sport.

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Review: 2014 Lexus IS250 (With Video)

After taking a sales hit due to tsunami-related production woes, Lexus has been trying to regain their mojo with a new product offensive. Things started out with the new Lexus GS sedan that Jack Baruth and I loved on and off the track, followed by a revised RX. With the redesigned IS, the bulk of their lineup has been overhauled. Initially, I was a little concerned that the Lexus IS sedan would receive nothing more than a new nose and some LED lights for 2014 but the Japanese 3-Series fighter came out swinging when we were invited to the launch event earlier in the year. I came away impressed with the IS 350’s road manners, but most buyers will be shopping for the less powerful IS 250 and it’s taken us this long to get our hands on one.

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First Drive Review: 2014 Lexus IS (Video)

Every car company hates the BMW 3-Series. It’s always the benchmark, always the sales champion, always the golden boy. BMW shifted nearly 100,000 3-Series models in America last year and they did so not by being “the best” luxury sedan, but by pandering to the shopping public’s desires. Buyers have shown they want a comfy ride with a luxury logo on the front, they want good fuel economy and they want to hear journalists say how well the car handles on a track. The average buyer will never be on a track, but it’s critical to know your car belongs there. The old IS was a good car on the track, but its demure looks sold more on Lexus’ reliability and dealer reputation than the car’s track diaries. As we know from Volvo and Lexus’ sales numbers in this segment, two things don’t move metal: reliability and safety. For 2014 Lexus went back to the drawing board completely redesigning the IS sedan to be their most dynamic sedan ever. Does it have what it takes to take on the Germans and Infiniti’s new Q50?

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  • Cprescott Lucid has the right idea about building cars - I agree that these have a presence to them and certainly make all Teslas look like cheap golf carts with doors in comparison. I hope Lucid survives because they actually build luxurious products and not pretenders like Tesla.
  • Cprescott Well, the shift in 1977 to the down-sized T-Bird was a great move - it did not diminish the T-Bird as clearly there was more in kind with the 1958 than the 1976. Sales were golden for that clever shift. What really did damage was that "thing" that was the Fairmont based one - that was hideous. I was surprised that the Futura wasn't really a T-Bird - a bit of work on the front and rear made it a clear kinship to the prior generation one and the Futura sold very well. I loved the Lincoln Mark V and all of its air craft carrier bulk - the next generation was okay and I owned a 1985 Town Car and loved that car (30 mpgs on the highway and able to drive one's livingroom with you!). Wish I still had it.The Mark VII was an incredible effort IMHO.
  • Arthur Dailey Ford by messing around with its market positioning and adding different models destroyed any prestige/panache associated with the Cougar which was originally regarded as 'a gentleman's muscle car/coupe'. As for the T-Bird, I had considerable driving time with a 'big Bird', and subsequently had a 'Torino Bird' which was a very good looking car for the time but mine was plagued with mechanical issues. The following generation known as the 'box Bird' was a disaster, both in looks and style and moved the 'Bird downmarket. I never drove the next generation 'aero Bird' but did later have a very rare FILA edition of the 'super Bird' generation. For the time it was a very competitive vehicle. Just wish that I had more driving/riding time in an LSC. For my money the last 'great' Lincoln coupe.
  • Ehaase Chinese Ford Escort because I wish entry level cars under $20,000 were still available.
  • Ajla Yaris hybrid