Full 2013 Lexus IS 250 C Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Lexus IS 250 C gets a few upgrades including HD radio and the Enform 2.0 app system that allows use of smartphone apps like Pandora and OpenTable.
If there's a common theme running through this diverse country of ours, it's that most everyone aspires to living "the good life." Though it has its flaws, the 2013 Lexus IS 250 C allows at least a little taste of that dolce vitathanks to its comfortable, top-down persona.
The compact IS 250 C's principal attractions are its retractable hardtop and high-quality interior. While no one buys a convertible for practicality, the car's retractable hardtop actually gives it some advantages over a traditional soft-top convertible, including insulating occupants from the elements and road noise and adding an extra measure of security. Inside, the 250 C lives up to the expectations one likely has of a Lexus, with high-quality materials and a generous list of standard features.
In other areas, though, the IS 250 C is not as appealing. On the performance front, the 2.5-liter V6 under the hood provides adequate but uninspiring acceleration, while the suspension is tuned to favor ride comfort -- a combination that driving enthusiasts will find a tad disappointing. Finally, while the interior is attractive, the rear seats are quite cramped even by convertible standards, and the trunk's capacity becomes quite small with the top lowered.
With all this in mind, you may want to check out some of the luxury convertible segment's other notable entries. The 2013 BMW 3 Series is more fun to drive, while the 2013 Audi A5 requires less sacrifice in terms of rear seat and trunk space. The 2013 Volvo C70 is also a worthy alternative. But if the main mission is just to gain some of that coveted, top-down dolce vita feeling, the affordably priced 2013 Lexus IS 250 C is worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-passenger 2013 Lexus IS 250 C is a retractable-hardtop luxury convertible that's offered in a single well-equipped trim level. There is also an IS 350 C convertible with a larger engine and a few additional features, which is reviewed separately.
Standard equipment on the IS 250 C includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with two-way lumbar control), a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are the Safety Connect telematics system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio input jack and iPod/USB interface.
The optional Luxury package includes bi-xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, genuine wood trim and driver memory settings. The Navigation package adds a navigation system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth automatic phonebook downloading, voice commands, HD radio and Lexus Enform enhanced telematics features. A 12-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system can be added to the navigation system.
Stand-alone options include parking sensors and adaptive cruise control with Lexus' pre-collision system. A variety of F Sport engine, suspension and brake performance parts, including 18- and 19-inch alloy wheels, are also available.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Lexus IS 250 C comes with a 2.5-liter V6 that produces 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic that includes manual shift control.
Lexus estimates that the IS 250 C will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates with the automatic are 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. The manual transmission comes in slightly lower at 19/28/22 mpg.
The IS 250 C comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, front-seat knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags (a rarity among convertibles), pop-up rollover bars and Lexus Safety Connect emergency telematics.
Included with the optional adaptive cruise control is the Lexus pre-collision system, which can snug up the front seatbelts and activate brake assist immediately when the driver presses the brake pedal if an impending collision is detected.
Interior Design and Special Features
The passenger cabin of the 2013 Lexus IS 250 C is a stylish place done up in quality materials, especially in models decked out with the available Luxury package's premium leather and wood trim. Gauges and controls are clear and intuitive, though models equipped with the optional navigation system make it a little harder to get at touchscreen-controlled features like audio and climate settings while the nav system is in use. This year's navigation system does include the updated Lexus Enform service, however, which includes smartphone integration for apps such as Pandora, iHeart radio and Yelp.
While the front seats offer good comfort, the backseats are a tight fit for all but the smallest kids. Trunk space is limited as well; there's a passable 10.8 cubic feet of cargo room, but it drops to just 2.4 cubic feet with the roof down. Oddly enough, it's still possible to squeeze in a golf bag with the top dropped.
Whether you're cruising along cocooned with the roof up or enjoying a little al fresco motoring with it down, the 2013 Lexus IS 250 C's stiff body structure and supple suspension tuning makes it feel solid and smooth even over rough roads. Handling and steering feel are fine for casual drives but folks looking for more sporting driving character would do well to look into Lexus' F Sport line of dealer-installed suspension components.
The 2.5-liter V6 provides acceptable acceleration for daily driving but nothing more. Buyers looking for more oomph should move up to the considerably more powerful IS 350 C.