The Lexus IS is a great choice if you want a luxury sport sedan without worrying about paying high-end German repair bills.
Available between 2006 and 2013, the second-generation Lexus IS is a Japanese alternative to the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. With a pair of V6 engines and a rear-wheel-drive platform, the car is considered to be on par with its rivals, but a few key things make it quite different than its competition.
There are two main models of Lexus IS Sedans: the IS 250 and the IS 350. The numbers correspond to the displacement of the engine. IS 250 models use a 2.5-liter V6 engines that makes 205 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Standard for the IS 250 is a rear wheel drive setup with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The IS 350 makes roughly 50 percent more power at 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. Only available with a six-speed automatic, the IS350 was exclusively rear-wheel drive until the 2011 model year when Lexus began offering the more powerful model with all-wheel drive. The less potent IS 250 was always available with rear- or all-wheel drive.
Owners could order options like a 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, 18-inch alloy wheels, 10-way power seats, a navigation system, dynamic radar cruise control, rear park assist, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive headlamps, Bluetooth connectivity and bi-xenon headlights.
In 2007 Lexus added a button to disable traction control, while a refresh occurred for 2009 models. Updated styling inside and out highlighted the refresh that also featured re-tuned steering and re-designed seat backs that allowed for more rear leg room.
While Lexus provided aftermarket accessories that were available following the 2007 SEMA show, the company also began to offer F-Sport packages for the Lexus IS from the factory in 2010, adding some sporty appeal to the car.
1. Reliability Lexus has a reputation for delivering reliable, long-lasting vehicles. The Lexus IS advances that reputation with above average reliability ratings despite having been the subject of a few recalls.
2. Luxury The Lexus IS was also known for its solid build quality and luxurious interior. The Japanese sport sedan also could be equipped with a number of high-end features too.
3. Engine Performance While the IS 250 is underpowered, even for its time, the IS 350 has a powerful, smooth engine. Using the port and direct injected Toyota D4-S technology, the IS 350 offers satisfying acceleration and a 5.6-second 0-60 time.
Top 3 Problem Areas:
1. Interior space Don’t get an IS if you plan on regularly carrying people in the back seats. They are small and weren’t segment competitive. Ingress and egress is also troublesome for rear-seat passengers.
2. Dashboard issues There are some reports of older IS models having problematic dashboards that can crack in sunlight and extreme heat. Lexus changed the dashboard material in 2009 and there was a TSB offered to replace any broken interior panels under warranty at the time.
3. Carbon build-up in IS 250 The IS 250 has an issue with carbon build up. This can affect engine performance in the car and will require expensive servicing procedures. Some Lexus owners have reported that Lexus offered an extended Customer Service Program to service the carbon build-up issues for nine years. Enthusiastic driving is said to help prevent build-up of carbon.
Before You Buy:
If you are looking at a IS 250, ask about carbon build-up and if the owner has records of having the cleaning service performed. Take the car for a spin, noting how it feels at idle and at wide-open throttle and look for shuddering at low RPM.
For models older than 2009, check the interior panels for cracking or other defects.
Lexus IS’ have also been pegged with a number of recalls and TSBs over the years, including the “unintended acceleration due to misplaced floor mat.” Other recalls include 2006-2009 models that have issues with the fuel-delivery system that has been linked to causing fires in some situations. Lexus has been very sensitive and quick to react to any concerns about unintended acceleration, so there’s a number of engine and powertrain related TSBs and recalls to weed out any issues before they arise.
Take a look at the list below for the car you intend to buy to see what issues affected that model year.
Post facelift (2009 and later) IS 350 models are your best bet, as they are an excellent performance value with a reputation for reliability. Carbon build-up issues with IS 250s make the IS 350 easier to recommend. 2012 and 2013 models have the fewest recalls and TSBs but they tend to be on the pricier end of the used car market.
Recall and Crash Test Database
2006 Lexus IS 250 Recall Information 2006 Lexus IS General Recall Information 2006 Lexus IS 350 Recall Information 2007 Lexus IS 250 Recall Information 2007 Lexus IS General Recall Information 2007 Lexus IS 350 Recall Information 2008 Lexus IS General Recall Information 2008 Lexus IS 250 Recall Information 2008 Lexus IS 350 Recall Information 2009 Lexus IS General Recall Information 2009 Lexus IS 250 Recall Information 2009 Lexus IS 350 Recall Information 2010 Lexus IS General Recall Information 2010 Lexus IS 250 Recall Information 2010 Lexus IS 350 Recall Information 2011 Lexus IS General Recall Information 2011 Lexus IS 250 Recall Information 2011 Lexus IS 350 Recall Information 2012 Lexus IS General Recall Information 2012 Lexus IS 250 Recall Information 2012 Lexus IS 350 Recall Information 2013 Lexus IS General Recall Information
2006 Lexus IS IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2007 Lexus IS IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2008 Lexus IS IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2009 Lexus IS IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2010 Lexus IS IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2011 Lexus IS IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2012 Lexus IS IIHS Crash Test Ratings 2013 Lexus IS IIHS Crash Test Ratings