2008 Lexus IS


$7,470 - $8,930

2008 Lexus IS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 Lexus IS was new.


Performance: 8.0

The majority of reviewers agree, the 2008 Lexus IS offers solid driving performance for its class, competitive with its top German rivals. Though there is no question that the top-of-the-line IS 350 is a powerful option, reviewers say even the less powerful 250 has a sporting persona.

Motor Trend calls the IS 350 "quicker than just quick" and "downright fast." Both trim levels offer capable handling and confident braking, which Motor Trend describes as "butter-smooth."

Acceleration and Power

The IS 250 comes equipped with a 2.5-liter V6 engine that makes 204 horsepower. The majority of reviews say the IS 250 isn't powerful enough, though some note it as athletic and arguably quick. According to The Auto Channel, the IS 250 "certainly isn't underpowered" in comparison to most cars in its class. In fact, its test drivers found that they "were able to zip around corners and reach illegal highway speeds quite quickly."

Many critics evaluate the IS 250 in comparison to the rocket-like IS 350. Edmunds says the IS 250 is unexciting, while the Press Enterprise applauds the car's luxury, but calls its' speed "unresponsive."

The 2008 Lexus IS 250 has good estimated fuel economy for a high-performance sedan, getting approximately 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway with an automatic transmission, according to the EPA. Buyers can choose a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.

The Lexus IS 350, the 250s sportier sibling, is quick and responsive, receiving "Ward's 10 Best Engines Award," for its "over-the-top fueling arrangement" and "dazzling throttle response." Most reviews say the Lexus IS 350 is an exhilarating ride, equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine packing 306 horsepower. The 2008 Lexus IS 350 3.5-liter engine is "great" with enough power to make the 350 a quick car, quotes Road and Track. Road and Travel says the 350s engine is "flexible" as it "happily revs to the redline."

In Edmunds' comparison tests, the Lexus IS 350 "just dusts" the famed BMW 330i in 0-60 time: 5.6 seconds compared to the 330i's 6.7 seconds. That's also faster than the more expensive Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG, and brings the IS 350 into the category of respectable, true luxury sports cars.

The EPA rates the IS 350's estimated fuel economy at 18 mpg during city-driving and 25 on the highway.

Handling and Braking

Reviews say that both the 2008 Lexus IS 250 and 350 provide a smooth Lexus-quality ride, with responsive handling.

Forbes says that the IS 250 is "balanced, handles exceptionally well in the curves and isn't fatiguing." New Car Test Drive says the IS "slips though the air with quiet stability," making it perfect for highway cruising. Kelley Blue Book adds, "In around-town, freeway commute and open two-lane touring, the IS 250 feels completely in its element."

The Lexus IS 250 comes standard with four-wheel independent suspension, with front double-wishbone coil springs and rear multi-link coil springs for optimum shock absorption and stabilization. The Lexus IS 350 comes standard with a double-wishbone front and independent multilink rear suspension and an optional sport-tuned suspension. Edmunds test drivers credit the IS models' "sophisticated suspension" and "powerful brakes" for delivering sports car-like performance. MSN finds the same. Yet, Forbes claims that for those "who prefer suppleness over responsiveness might find the suspension too firm."

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