$14,253 - $28,804

2013 Lexus IS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Lexus IS was new.


Performance: 7.4

While the 2013 Lexus IS 350 packs enough power to compete with rivals from BMW and Infiniti, reviewers agree that the base IS 250 isn’t powerful enough to compete with most upscale midsize cars. Test drivers also note that the 2013 Lexus IS doesn’t have the composed ride and athletic handling that its German competitors offer.

  • "Try to have some fun on a winding road and the IS 250 feels reluctant to participate thanks to lifeless steering and a modestly powerful V6 that's calibrated for fuel economy, not excitement." -- Edmunds 
  • In addition, drivers who prefer a generous helping of sport with a side of luxury should consider the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 or the Audi A4." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • Any IS closely matches its class rivals, but the ride is tainted by slight wheel thump on washboard roads and mild float over large crests at speed." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "Among today's entry-level sport sedans, the BMW 328i is quicker, and the turbocharged Audi A4 beats both. Lexus has some catching up to do." -- Cars.com (2011)

Acceleration and Power

The Lexus IS 250 sedan and IS 250 C convertible both come with a 2.5-liter V6 engine that generates 204 horsepower. IS 350 and IS 350 C models have a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. All IS 250 and IS 350 models now come with a six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional on IS 250 and IS 350 sedans. The EPA reports that the IS 250 sedan and IS 250 C get 21/30 mpg city/highway, which is about average for the class. Still, rivals like the Audi A4 and BMW 328i use less fuel.

The high-performance Lexus IS F sedan features a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 416 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 371 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. Power is routed to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a manual mode. Lexus says that the 2013 IS F will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 170 mph.

In general, reviewers agree that the IS 250 sedan and convertible are sluggish, especially when compared with other cars in the class. However, other test drivers say that IS 350 models offer a competitive amount of power. One reviewer notes that the IS 350 accelerates just as well as the Infiniti G37 and BMW 335i, which are some of the best-performing cars in the class.

  • One of the most endearing qualities of the IS 350 is its smooth and responsive V6 engine. It provides plenty of thrust for most drivers, although its smooth-shifting automatic transmission is slow to react to your commands." -- Edmunds
  • IS 250s feel sleepy on takeoff, strained up steep grades, and are shy on midrange passing power despite a responsive, silky automatic transmission. IS 350s are strong in all situations." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "Even carrying an extra 176 pounds of driveline, the all-wheel-drive IS 350 moves out. Lexus' direct-injection V-6 feels on par with the powerhouse six-cylinders in the BMW 335i and Infiniti G37." -- Cars.com (2011)
  • Acceleration in the IS350C feels manly, although the open-air exhaust note is just a humdrum hum." -- Car and Driver (2010)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers offer varying opinions when it comes to the Lexus IS’ handling. Some say that the IS has composed, agile handling, while other test drivers write that the IS leans in corners and has steering that feels vague. One critic notes that the IS sedan also rides less comfortably than rivals like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

  • "The uncommunicative steering does little to give the driver a feel for the road, while the noticeable body roll dilutes the overall sense of performance." -- Edmunds 
  • While the Lexus IS isn't as engaging or nimble as its sportier rivals, all iterations provide a level of compliant composure the Germans rarely deliver - at least in this size category." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "IS corners with little body lean, secure grip, and an agile feel." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "Our editors agreed it's uncomfortable, and that's a sacrifice you don't necessarily have to make. The 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class ride decidedly better." -- Cars.com (2011)

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