2017 Lexus IS review

The basics:

Base price: $40,150 + tax
As tested: $44,950 + tax (200t with the F Sport series 1 package. Higher level trims are available in the V6 models of the IS with prices starting at $53,350 in the IS 350)
Average economy over our week of driving: 10.8 L/100 kms (22 US MPG)
Competition: Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Infiniti Q50, Mercedes C-Class, etc.

The Lexus IS is the entry level sedan for the company. It’s been around since 2000 and this latest third generation IS has been with us since 2013. But there are some changes for 2017 including new headlights, front grille and better standard equipment which now includes the Lexus Safety Sense package with lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and automatic high beams. Our tester for the week had the 200t engine which is only available with rear wheel drive but you can only get all wheel drive on the V6 variants of this car. Regardless of the trim you choose, this is a smaller sedan so we packed it full of family stuff to see if it could work for carting your crew around and here’s what we found out.

– The 8 speed automatic transmission is very smooth and crisp with paddle shifters reacting quickly to driver shits as well
– The IS offers great handling, steering feel and overall driving experience
– We’ve had some pretty slick roads this week and the rear wheel drive 200t actually performs quite well in the snow with traction control keeping you in check
– I love the LFA inspired instrument cluster as part of the F-sport package and the sport seats are really good, too – two things that make this package’s $4,800 price tag a little easier to swallow
– Both front and rear facing car seats did fit better than expected. And a new flap for accessing the anchor positions makes installing car seats far easier than many other Toyota and Lexus vehicles

– The 241 hp 200t is ultra peppy once it gets up to speed but off-the-line acceleration is incredibly sluggish, even in sport mode
– While the sport suspension makes for a very connected drive, it is rather harsh over even small bumps in the road
– The spindle grill up front means there’s no real front bumper so little taps in a parking lot could be costly
– The interior has a lot of cheap plastics and a strange mix of switch-wear. The ghetto-blaster style buttons for the climate control and media controls also date the interior of what is a very modern looking car from the exterior
– Navigation isn’t standard and there’s no Apple Carplay or Android Auto functionality despite the fact that this is a car aimed at younger buyers who want full integrated smart phone compatibility
– The cup holders are very small and limiting
– The back seat is very tight for adults. Headroom maxes out for anyone larger than 6 feet tall. And it really is a four passenger car because the middle seat in the back row is narrow and has a huge hump in the floor which leaves zero leg room
– Trunk space is limited with only 310 L to work with but it is quite a deep trunk so longer items fit better than we expected
– The trunk release function via the key fob doesn’t actually lift the trunk, just unlocks it – which would make juggling your groceries a little trickier compared to the competition

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3.5/5 (68 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5

Family Wheels overall score: 36.5/50= 73%

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