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8.1

Overall

Scorecard

Overall: 8.1
Critics' Rating: 8.7
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 7.9
Total Cost of Ownership: 7.9
Safety: 9.5
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Lexus IS Review

The 2018 Lexus IS ranks in the top third of the luxury small car class. The IS has a handsome interior, refined driving dynamics, and excellent safety scores. Awkward infotainment controls and a small trunk keep the sedan from ranking even higher.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale, quiet interior
  • Pleasant ride and handling
  • Plenty of standard safety features
  • Frustrating infotainment controls
  • Modest trunk space

New for 2018

  • IS 200t renamed IS 300
  • V6 engines gained 5 more horsepower
  • Adaptive headlights available
  • Standard Rearview camera

Is the 2018 Lexus IS a Good Used Car?

The Lexus IS sedan is a good option if you’re shopping for a used luxury car.

Check out the 2018 IS’ highlights:

  • Elegant interior
  • Spry handling and a comfortable ride quality
  • Peppy four- and six-cylinder engines
  • Lots of standard safety features
  • Superb safety scores
  • Above-average predicted reliability rating

The IS does have a few drawbacks though:

  • Mediocre gas mileage
  • Small trunk space
  • Distracting infotainment controls
  • No support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

Consider alternatives like the 2018 Audi A4 and 2018 BMW 3 Series if you want a luxury small car with better fuel economy and a simpler infotainment system.

Compare the IS, A4 and 3 Series »

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve analyzed 36 Lexus IS reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability ratings and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Is the 2018 Lexus IS?

Based on listings for the 2018 Lexus IS on our site, the average price is $35,900. Prices range from $30,800 to $41,300 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Lexus IS Cost to Own?

The IS’ five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be $29,000, or $5,800 per year. That’s about average for a luxury small car.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New IS?

The 2019 Lexus IS starts at around $38,400, but it can exceed $45,000 in its top trim levels. You can save thousands of dollars by purchasing a very similar 2017 or 2018 model. The 2019 IS only saw minor updates, such as the addition of Amazon Alexa integration.

Read about the new Lexus IS »

You can save even more money by shopping for a 2014, 2015, or 2016 Lexus IS. These sedans are part of the same generation as the newer models, but they have a few differences, especially in terms of safety features. Only the 2017-and-newer models come standard with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. These features were previously optional from 2014 to 2016.

Additionally, 2014 and 2015 IS models are not available with Lexus’ 241-horsepower four-cylinder engine. This zippy turbocharged engine was added for 2016, and it replaced a weaker V6 found in IS 250 models.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 IS »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Lexus IS?

The IS has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about IS reliability »

2018 Lexus IS Recalls

At the time of writing, there are no recalls for the 2018 Lexus IS.

See more information on Lexus IS safety recalls »

Which Used Lexus IS Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Lexus IS is available in four trims: IS 300, IS 300 AWD, IS 350, and IS 350 AWD. Most buyers should be pleased with the base IS 300, which offers good performance and a generous array of standard features.

  • Lexus IS 300: The entry-level IS 300 sedan has a 241-horsepower four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Standard features include a 7-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, a CD player, a 10-speaker stereo, a rearview camera, keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather seats, heated side mirrors, a moonroof, LED headlights, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Lexus Safety System+ is also standard. It includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.
  • Lexus IS 300 AWD: The IS 300 AWD trim shares these standard features and adds a 260-horsepower V6 engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive.
  • Lexus IS 350: The rear-wheel-drive IS 350 has the same standard features as the IS 300, but it includes a 311-horsepower V6 engine and 18-inch wheels.
  • Lexus IS 350 AWD: This variant of the IS 350 also has the 311-horsepower V6 engine but with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

Available features include a navigation system, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a power rear sunshade, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. A performance-oriented F Sport package is also available and adds restyled bumpers, sport seats, and a digital gauge cluster. On IS 350 models, an adaptive suspension and a limited-slip differential are available.

See 2018 Lexus IS trims and specs »

What Does Lexus’ Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Lexus offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 70,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale’s date. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Lexus extends its original new-car warranty to cover six years or unlimited mileage. From the day you purchase or lease your Lexus Certified Vehicle, you receive complimentary maintenance covering the next four factory-recommended services for two years or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first. Lexus puts its CPO vehicles through a 161-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Lexus warranty page carefully.

This is one of the most comprehensive certified pre-owned programs, according to our analysis.

See the best CPO programs »

Read more about the Lexus certified pre-owned program »

How Safe Is the IS?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Lexus IS sedan an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The IS received five stars in rollover and side crash tests and four stars in the frontal crash test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the IS a 2018 Top Safety Pick. It earned a top rating of Good in all crash test areas and the highest rating of Superior for its front crash prevention system. The IS received the second-highest rating of Acceptable for how well its headlights illuminate the road ahead.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • forward collision warning
  • automatic emergency braking
  • pedestrian detection
  • adaptive cruise control
  • lane departure warning
  • lane keep assist
  • automatic high-beam headlights

Available advanced safety features:

  • front and rear parking sensors
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • adaptive pivoting headlights

See IS safety scores »

2018 Lexus IS Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Lexus IS or 2018 Infiniti Q50?

The 2018 Infiniti Q50 is another sporty option in the luxury small car class. The Q50 has balanced handling, a comfortable ride, and a wide array of engine options. It also tends to be priced less than comparable IS sedans as well. That said, the IS is a better package overall. Its cabin materials are much nicer than those in the Q50, and it comes standard with far more safety features, such as forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

Which Is Better: 2018 Lexus IS or 2018 Kia Stinger?

The 2018 Kia Stinger is a better pick for most shoppers. The Stinger is just as stable and comfortable to drive, but it outshines its Lexus rival with stronger engine performance, an easier-to-use infotainment system, support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and – thanks to its hatchback body style – a much larger cargo area. Give this luxe Kia a test drive first.

Compare the IS, Q50, and Stinger »

2018 IS Performance

How Does the 2018 Lexus IS Drive?

The Lexus IS offers an enjoyable driving experience. The car feels stable and composed around turns. Its steering is light and responsive, and its suspension soaks up bumps and dips in the road nicely, yielding a comfortable ride. F Sport models feature a stiffer suspension, which further sharpens the sedan’s handling, yet it still retains a cushioned ride quality on rough pavement. The IS’ brakes bring the car to a stop confidently, but the initial pedal feel is a bit soft.

The IS 300’s standard four-cylinder engine is turbocharged, and it does a great job of hustling the car around town and up to highway speed. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers prompt gear changes, especially when using the shift paddles. The dash from zero to 60 mph takes about seven seconds.

If you’re looking for zippier performance, upgrade to the IS 350, which has a 311-horsepower V6 engine. You’ll probably want to skip the IS 300 AWD model though. It has a less-powerful version of this V6 that delivers 260 horsepower, and it doesn’t accelerate the car as assertively.

  • Base engine: 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Available engines:
    • 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6
    • 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard eight-speed automatic; available six-speed automatic (AWD only)
Does the 2018 Lexus IS Get Good Gas Mileage?

The IS gets mediocre fuel economy for a luxury small car.

  • IS 300: 22/32 mpg city/highway
  • IS 300 AWD: 19/26 mpg
  • IS 350: 20/28 mpg
  • IS 350 AWD: 19/26 mpg

Read more about IS performance »

2018 IS Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 IS Seat?

The Lexus IS is a four-door sedan with five seats. The front seats are comfy and offer fine support on longer trips. There’s ample head- and legroom up front as well, even for taller occupants. The rear seats are well-padded and can comfortably accommodate kids and teens, though rear legroom is a bit snug for adults.

The IS’ cabin is elegantly styled, and it’s accented with upholstered surfaces, metal trim, and soft-touch plastics. It does a nice job of filtering out road and wind noise.

Standard seating features:

  • synthetic leather seats (NuLuxe)
  • power-adjustable front seats

Available seating features:

  • genuine leather upholstery
  • heated and ventilated front seats
  • F Sport bolstered front seats
  • power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • heated steering wheel
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Lexus IS?

The IS sedan has two full sets of LATCH connectors for securing child car seats. This system is quite practical, thanks to its easy-to-locate anchors. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the setup a top rating of Good for overall ease of use.

2018 Lexus IS Features

The IS sedan is available with two different infotainment systems. The standard setup is Lexus Display Audio. It includes a 7-inch screen that is controlled using a knob on the center console. It has a slight learning curve, but overall this layout is pretty easy to use. However, the available Lexus Remote Touch system is not user-friendly. This setup adds a 10.3-inch screen and a navigation system, but it’s controlled using a sensitive joystick. It operates much like a computer mouse and requires too much attention to use while driving.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, a CD player, and a 10-speaker stereo
  • Available infotainment features: a 10.3-inch infotainment screen, a navigation system, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, and an F Sport digital gauge cluster
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, and a moonroof
  • Other available features: a power rear sunshade

See 2018 Lexus IS specs »

Read more about IS interior »

2018 Lexus IS Dimensions

Lexus IS Cargo Space

The IS sedan has 10.8 cubic feet of trunk space. That’s less than what many other luxury small cars offer, such as the 2018 Audi A4 and 2018 Jaguar XE.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Lexus IS Length and Weight
  • Length: 15 feet, 4 inches
  • Curb weight: 3,583 to 3,737 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Lexus IS Built?

Lexus built the 2018 IS in Japan.

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