2008 Lexus IS 250 Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Lexus IS 250 Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Lexus IS 250 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 204 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Lexus IS 250

  • Athletic poise, impressive build quality and plenty of luxury features put the 2008 Lexus IS 250 high on our list of entry-level luxury sport sedans.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Capable handling, impeccably finished cabin, advanced safety technology, good fuel economy on the rear-wheel-drive automatic model, available all-wheel drive.

  • Cons

    Cramped rear-seat space, tight headroom, options packages can be pricey.

  • What's New for 2008

    For the 2008 Lexus IS 250, a handful of minor changes take place, including a new "Liquid Graphite" finish for the wheels, revised front seatbacks (to provide more rear legroom), recalibrated steering for better feel and the addition of a coin holder.

Full 2008 Lexus IS 250 Review

What's New for 2008

For the 2008 Lexus IS 250, a handful of minor changes take place, including a new "Liquid Graphite" finish for the wheels, revised front seatbacks (to provide more rear legroom), recalibrated steering for better feel and the addition of a coin holder.


Earlier this decade, Lexus introduced its first entry-level luxury sport sedan, the IS. It was a decent performer with sharp reflexes, but its cabin was cramped and had about as much sporty flavor as a Scion. A couple of years ago, Lexus upped its game, replacing the IS 300 with the IS 250 and IS 350.

The two cars are more buff, more luxurious and more sporting than their predecessor. As half of Lexus' tag-teaming sport sedan line, the 2008 IS 250 boasts a sophisticated suspension, powerful brakes and a sprightly V6 under its neatly tailored sheet metal. The cabin is a model of refinement and classy design, with most cutting-edge luxury features either standard or optional. The IS 250 isn't as powerful as the 350, but it is less expensive and the only one of the two to offer all-wheel drive.

Like its forbear, the 2008 Lexus IS 250 faces competition from BMW -- in this case, the 328i. In addition, there's also the Audi A4, Acura TL and Infiniti G35 to think about. And honestly, you can't lose with any of them. The Infiniti and Acura, in particular, boast considerably more power and roomier backseats. Meanwhile, the BMW still takes the trophy for ultimate driving enjoyment. But with its athletic moves, impressive overall quality, reputation for reliability and generous features list, the well-rounded IS 250 remains worthy of strong consideration.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Lexus IS 250 is a compact luxury sport sedan that's offered in one trim level. Standard equipment is generous and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, leather seating, power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control and a premium audio system with a six-disc CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack.

Optional features (mostly bundled into packages) include 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, driver seat memory, rain-sensing wipers, a power rear sunshade, a navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system. Heated front seats are standard on the all-wheel-drive model and optional on the rear-wheel-drive versions. Both IS 250s can also be had with ventilated front seats. A sport suspension package (not available on the AWD version) dubbed the "X" package is available and features firmer suspension calibrations, 18-inch wheels, larger tires and alloy foot pedals.

Powertrains and Performance

As one may infer from the model name, a 2.5-liter V6 powers the IS 250. It makes a respectable 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Buyers may choose either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. One may have either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic in the rear-drive IS 250, while the AWD version is automatic only. Our test of a manual-transmission IS 250 yielded a respectable 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds, but expect automatic-equipped models to be at least a half-second slower.

Revised fuel economy estimates stand at 21 city and 29 highway for the IS 250 automatic, which is excellent for this segment. The manual gearbox and the AWD versions produce average results, with 18/26 and 20/26 respectively.


Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control and a full complement of airbags (front-seat side and full-length side curtain) are all standard. Optional is a pre-collision system (PCS) that is packaged with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. PCS uses a radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car. If the computer determines that a collision is unavoidable, it pre-emptively 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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the IS 250 earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for its performance in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2008 Lexus IS 250 boasts impressive interior materials, a handsome design and plenty of luxury features. Impeccable fit and finish is evident everywhere, from the soft-touch dash and door panels to the supple leather on the seats. Lexus also offers one of the best electronics interfaces in the luxury game, with easy-to-use controls all around. The optional navigation system and accompanying touchscreen are particularly friendly.

Most compact sport sedans aren't generous with rear-seat legroom, but this is particularly true with the IS 250. Even with this year's marginal improvement in legroom (that comes via scooped-out front seatbacks), adults or even large children may not be happy in the rear seat on long road trips -- especially with a taller driver up front. Headroom is also in short supply in both front and rear. If you're at all above average in size, the IS may prove to be no more spacious than a luxury coupe.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 Lexus IS 250's manual transmission allows drivers to wring out the most performance from the car's small V6 engine, though most buyers will be suitably happy with the automatic that delivers better-than-average fuel economy. On a twisty road, the IS 250's precise steering and buttoned-down suspension inspire confidence. The ride is controlled yet comfortably supple, and the plush cabin, devoid of noise and vibration, is a fine example of tranquility.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Best car i have ever

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

My 5th car. This one has been by far the most reliable and pleasant to drive. Not one single issue. I wish the seats folded and that it had Bluetooth. Everything about this vehicle is solid. Tire issue but that can be avoided. Factory alignment will make the insides of your tires wear in half the time but there are shops out there that will align it so the wheels are not angled out as much. I average 27 mpg. Max has been 29mpg. If you really tone it down, 31 mpg hw. These figures are obtained by resetting the trip odometer and then dividing the number of gal it took to refill. I am not that tall so the car fits me great. 5 people in the car is a squeeze but not that bad.

2008 is250 with manual transmission

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6M)

Very good torque throught the manual gears, especial 1 thru 4; holds turns very well; easy to handle/steer - good wheel feel; powerful breaking; and still quite, espec. when touring; AND signif. more power to the rear wheels than the automatic. But ... nothing like the MT in my 1994 Lexus ES300. I had many problems with IS manual trans. After buying IS250 as CPO with only 2k miles, all kinds of MT came up: the worst being the flywheel was warped and I could get the car to move away in 1st from a stop -smoothly and with no jerkiness. It was maddening; had to argue and convince Lexus to take it seriously. Finally, 13,000 mi later, they replaced flywheel, which showed hot spots throughout.

1 of 9 people found this review helpful

6-speed manual is great

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6M)

Have seen some bad reviews of manual trans - I think it is excellent through the first four gears, with just 5th and 6th being a bit rope-a-dope to get there. And the manual really makes the engine come alive. Also, i am comparing to a 2008 328i BMW, and a 2004 Honda S2000 - Honda the best obviously, but I would say IS 250 trans better than 328i.

11 of 29 people found this review helpful

It's not a sports car,

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

If you're looking for a sporty drive, go with the 350 or G37. If you're like me, the lead in your foot has been replaced by maturity, this is a great car for you. Bought this car 15k miles ago with 35k miles. It is my first "luxury" car but I've driven all the competition (bmw, g37, tl, c300) Comfortable, looks great, feels great, and the nav makes life easy. The interior is a tight fit so if you are using the back seat all the time for passengers, pass on this one. But if you only use it on occasion then the back seat will do. If you're sitting in the front you'll be comfortable, you'll be pleased with the look of the interior, and you'll find the touch screen easy to use.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Good all around

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

I've been reading all these reviews complaining about the ride quality. That's due to the Potenzas from the factory. I replaced mine with Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires and the ride quality is 1000 times better. Also, buy a car with low profile tires, they WILL get damaged...on any car. This car is getting close to three years old and gets driven hard about 80 miles per day. It doesn't have a single rattle, squeak, or any other flaw. It has been perfect since day one. The engine definately needs more power. This car has decent power, but for the $42K that is costs, it should a lot more. The interior comfort and design are outstanding.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful


by on
Vehicle: 2008 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

I have had this car for three years, and I love most everything about it. It's a great car, and I hope to drive it for a long time. My only complaint is the decreased visibility when backing up or changing lanes.

Talk About The 2008 IS 250

2008 Lexus IS 250 Discussions See all Started By

I am on the market for a new IS 250 BUT I am not sure if I should wait for a couple of months and get a 2008 model or use the fact that 2008 is on the market so that I can get a deeper discount on 200...

#728 of 732 Just leased my lexus is 250 2008 by smellsmoke Jul 01, 2008 (6:40 am) Save | Reply...

Model year: Lexus IS 250 2008 AWD (brand new)...

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 26
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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