$24,185 - $31,175

2017 Lexus IS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Lexus IS was new.


Performance: 8.3

The 2017 Lexus IS has solid overall performance, with three available engine choices that are all respectably powerful. However, fuel economy is a little below average. Handling is balanced and composed, with direct steering and a comfortable ride quality. 

  • "Easy to drive, quick, and painless - the IS 200t might not be an enthusiast's first choice, but it'd hardly be a wrong one." -- Autoblog (2016)
  • "Is it a genuine sports car, with its 4 doors, paddle shifters and not-ferocious V-6, 306 horsepower engine? Not really. It's a dressed-for-dinner Lexus, with an exclamation point under the hood. You'll cruise to work and back, you'll taxi the kiddos where they need to go, you'll throw it around using the 'Sport' control on nice days, but you won't be besting any Boxsters or AMGs when the light turns green and that's all there is to it." -- Forbes (2016)
  • "On the road, it's not the sportiest car of its kind, but it strikes a nice balance between comfort and performance that should appeal to many shoppers." -- Edmunds (2016) 

Acceleration and Power

The Lexus IS 200t comes standard with a 241-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The IS 300 has a six-speed automatic transmission and a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 255 horsepower. In the highest IS 350 trim, there is a version of the V6 engine tuned to 306 horsepower. 

According to EPA estimates, the base IS gets 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, which is on the lower end of the class. The IS 300 returns estimates of 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway, while the IS 350 gets 19/28 mpg city/highway. 

All three of the IS’ available engines deliver excellent throttle response and power. The transmission shifts smoothly and allows for seamless acceleration. 

  • "Yet under that soft layer, you'll also notice a bit more bite to the suspension, a sharper edge to the steering, and a satisfying growl every time you floor the throttle whether you're driving an IS with the 4-cylinder turbo or the V6. And when that prods you to take an onramp just a little quicker than you might have, the car responds beautifully, revealing itself to be an excellent luxury-sports sedan." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The highlight of the IS 200t is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which is better in every way than the small V6 it replaces." -- Edmunds
  • "The eight-speed automatic transmission is quite well suited for the brand and the car, I'd say. It mostly stayed out of my way, while in D, shifting unobtrusively during normal driving. The paddle-shift option is great for the occasional flights of motive fancy, but it's not lightning-quick, nor super engaging." -- Autoblog (2016)

Handling and Braking

The Lexus IS has somewhat sporty handling and precise steering. It also stays composed and level around corners. Ride quality is excellent, as the car easily travels over bumps or uneven pavement.

  • "Handling dynamics aren't this car's strongest suit, though you can still have fun whipping this luxury compact around a bend or two. … The IS delivers combines (sic) solid body control with smooth compliance at all the right times. Bumps and impacts are absorbed without issue, yet there's no hint of a marshmallowy ride or overly soft suspension tune. Ride comfort is very good." -- Edmunds
  • "Around town it's all silky luxury, with a supple suspension that smothers bumps and blankets potholes. Then aim it around corners and it points like a curved laser. The steering feels like a machine tool, the brakes soak off speed, the tires get a handshake with asphalt, and the strong, responsive engines drive it down the straights or up the hills with smooth, committed purpose." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "Handling is nippy with the F-Sport package, at least within the normal boundaries of public roads. The car stays neutral and flat under cornering loads, and the front end feels rather light and quick to turn in. Of course, take the same corners more aggressively, and you'll feel the car default to understeering, with power cut on exit until all four wheels are fully set and gripping. Don't expect to slide the IS around, in other words." -- Autoblog (2016)

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