What's New for 2007
Introduced last year, the Lexus IS 250 sedan has only minor changes for 2007. A new "X" Package for rear-drive IS 250s features a sport-tuned suspension and the possibility of deleting the moonroof. There's also a cutoff switch for the stability and traction control systems this year, a response to complaints from critics and consumers who felt the systems were too intrusive when maximum performance was desired.
Lexus is rather unique in that it happens to offer two entry-level luxury sedans. The ES 350 is designed for optimum comfort and luxury, while the IS line is specialized for performance. This tactic allows the automaker to avoid the jack-of-all-trades approach that other automakers must use with their singular entry-level offerings and therefore more directly appeal to consumer wants.
As the dedicated athletic sport sedan, the 2007 Lexus IS 250 carries on the tradition of the Lexus IS model. Along with its higher-horsepower sibling, the IS 350, the IS 250 replaced the original IS 300 last year when it debuted as an all-new design. Under its sharply styled exterior, the sedan packs a sophisticated suspension, powerful brakes and a V6 providing a respectable 204 horsepower.
In the entry-luxury sport sedan segment, the IS 250's strongest competition comes from the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. Finding a winner isn't easy. The Lexus excels when it comes to comfort and feature availability. Only in the more esoteric areas of chassis response and driving enjoyment does the 325i prove to be superior. In reality it's hard to go wrong with any of these great machines. The 2007 Lexus IS 250 is one of our top choices, and sport sedan shoppers should definitely give it strong consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Lexus IS 250 is a compact luxury sport sedan. Its singular trim level comes standard with 17-inch wheels, a moonroof, leather upholstery, power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control and a premium audio system with a six-disc CD changer and an auxiliary input jack. Additional features are mostly offered through optional packages. Three-position driver-seat memory, xenon HID headlights, adaptive front lighting, a power rear sunshade, 18-inch wheels and rain-sensing wipers are all available. So is a navigation system, a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, dynamic cruise control and parking assist. Heated and ventilated front seats are standard on all-wheel-drive models and optional on those with rear-wheel drive. Only rear-drive models are eligible for a sport-tuned suspension.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the hood is a 2.5-liter V6 that makes 204 hp and 185 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations are offered. For the rear-drive IS 250, buyers can choose a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The automatic is standard on AWD models.
Safety equipment includes front and rear side curtain airbags and front-seat side airbags. Also standard is a full suite of electronic technologies -- traction control, stability control, brake assist and antilock brakes. Lexus groups them together as the "Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management" (VDIM) system. Optional is a Pre-Collision System (PCS) -- packaged with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control -- that uses a radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car. If the computer determines that a collision is unavoidable, it preemptively stiffens the suspension, retracts the front seatbelts and pre-initializes brake assist so increased braking is applied the instant the brake pedal is pressed. In crash tests, the Lexus IS 250 earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for its performance in IIHS frontal offset and side-impact testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2007 Lexus IS 250 boasts impressive interior materials, an attractive cabin design and plenty of luxury amenities. Everything from the soft-touch dash and door panels to the supple leather seats exudes high quality. Like a lot of small luxury sedans, however, rear seating isn't as palatial. The car's wheelbase is 1.2 inches shorter than the 3 Series'. If you regularly carry adults -- or even large children -- in the rear seat, they won't be happy in the IS.
The manual transmission allows drivers to wring out a bit more performance from the small V6 engine, but overall the automatic is a better choice. Either way, expect adequate acceleration. The ride is controlled but soft, and the IS 250's plush cabin, devoid of any noise, harshness or vibration, is a portrait of tranquility. On twisting roads, this smallest of Lexus sedans is comfortable, reassuring and competent.