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If you're shopping for an entry-level luxury sedan with a sporty disposition, you'll undoubtedly come across the compact Lexus IS 250. Although modestly powered for a premium-brand sport sedan, the IS 250 offers all the other virtues of the current IS series, including precise handling, a top-quality interior and an extensive array of high-tech features.
However, choices are many in the highly competitive entry-luxury sedan market. The IS 250 is a respectable pick, but its lack of serious speed will deter hard-core enthusiasts, as will its muted steering feedback. And in terms of comfort, a cramped backseat means it won't be the best choice for families or those who frequently take on passengers.
Current Lexus IS 250
Lexus sells the IS 250 in a single trim level, with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. For power, the 250 comes with a 2.5-liter V6 rated for 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Rear-drive models can be had with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, while the AWD car is only available with the automatic. If you're looking for more power, the more potent IS 350 is reviewed separately.
The standard equipment list includes 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, power front seats, leather upholstery and a 13-speaker sound system. Major options include xenon headlights, heated/ventilated front seats, a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, a navigation system and an F Sport package that includes a sport-tuned suspension and sport seats.
On the move, the Lexus IS 250 is smooth-riding and quiet but a bit light on emotion. Handling is secure and precise, particularly with the sport package fitted, but the IS never communicates with its driver the way many of its rivals do. Acceleration is adequate for a car in this price range, but with 0-60-mph estimates of 7.5 seconds, we'd hardly call it pulse-quickening.
Inside, the leather-lined Lexus IS 250 feels luxurious even in standard spec. Seat comfort and passenger legroom are excellent up front, but the backseat offers considerably less legroom than most competing luxury sport sedans.
Used Lexus IS 250 Models
Introduced for the 2006 model year, the present-generation IS 250 represents the second iteration of the Lexus IS series. These earlier cars are pretty much the same as the current model, though there have been a few changes along the way. For 2009, Lexus restyled the grille, retuned the suspension and added a two-tone interior option. For 2010, there were a number of technology upgrades including a new iPod interface, enhanced Bluetooth and a hard-drive-based navigation system (compared to the earlier DVD-based unit).
The first generation, known as the IS 300 was sold from 2001-'05. This car was quicker and more involving to drive than today's IS 250, but it wasn't as roomy, refined or nearly as luxurious, with its cabin being more reminiscent of a lower-line Toyota than a Lexus.
Read the most recent 2014 Lexus IS 250 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Lexus IS 250 page.