2009 Lexus IS 250 Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2009 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 2009 Lexus IS 250

  • As an entry-level luxury sedan with a dash of panache, the 2009 Lexus IS 250 is an appealing proposition -- but as a sport sedan, it falls a bit short.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Compliant ride, capable handling, high-quality interior materials, available all-wheel drive.

  • Cons

    Lackluster power plant, overly soft suspension for enthusiastic driving, cramped backseat.

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Lexus IS 250 receives a handful of minor tweaks, including subtle interior and exterior styling changes, a more advanced stability control system, slightly revised suspension tuning and a two-tone interior option.

Full 2009 Lexus IS 250 Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 receives a handful of minor tweaks, including subtle interior and exterior styling changes, a more advanced stability control system, slightly revised suspension tuning and a two-tone interior option.


It wasn't too long ago that BMW had the entry-level sport sedan segment pretty much to itself. Sure, there were half-hearted efforts to match the magic of the blue-and-white propeller here and there, but the company's 3 Series remained the car to have for compact-sedan buyers who loved to drive. Eventually, though, rival automakers began to realize that this market segment couldn't be ignored. That's why the number of serious entry-level sport sedans has ballooned in recent years -- and why Lexus decided to get into the act by introducing the IS series.

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 (along with its more powerful IS 350 sibling) represents the second such act for Lexus, the previous-generation IS 300 having been the first. Essentially a rebadged Japanese-market Toyota, this initial effort was entertaining enough, but it couldn't quite match class leaders in terms of performance or refinement. The IS 250, on the other hand, was engineered to meet the European and Japanese competition head-on. It's got strikingly taut styling, a sporty interior and even a manual-shift option to complement its rear-wheel-drive layout. In other words, the 2009 Lexus IS 250 has what sport-sedan shoppers are looking for.

At least, that's how it appears on paper. Unfortunately, driving the IS 250 is something of a letdown from the enthusiast's perspective. The 2.5-liter V6 seems rather crude and underpowered compared with the BMW 328i's silky smooth 3.0-liter inline-6, and while the IS 250's steering is accurate, it's notably lacking in feel. Handling is certainly competent, but the IS 250 bounces up and down like a softly sprung luxury sedan over bumps, even with the optional sport suspension. As for the stick shift, fuggedaboutit -- it's easily worst-in-class. On the whole, it seems that Lexus was aiming for a slightly less sporty demographic with this car, namely buyers who want the look of an entry-level sport sedan along with the compliant ride and coddling interior of an entry-level luxury sedan.

If that was the target, then the IS 250 generally hits the bull's-eye. Interior materials quality is excellent, noise levels are Lexus low, and the IS 250's aggressively styled exterior belies its supple suspension tuning. As a sharp-looking compact luxury sedan with a sporty flavor, the IS 250 is an unqualified success. Just know that you may be disappointed if you expect this Lexus to give a 3 Series sedan -- or an Audi A4, or an Infiniti G35, or even a Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport -- a run for its money when the going gets twisty.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 compact luxury sport sedan is available in only 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, park 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, sport-biased tires and aluminum pedals.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 2.5-liter V6 that generates 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while AWD is available. Transmission options consist of a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, though if you want AWD, you're stuck with the automatic. Our test of a manual-transmission IS 250 yielded a 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds; for reference, a manual-shift BMW 328i will do the same trick in 6.4 seconds.

EPA fuel-economy estimates stand at 21 mpg city/29 highway and 24 combined for rear-wheel-drive models with the automatic transmission, while the manual shifter knocks those numbers down considerably to 18 mpg city/26 highway and 21 combined. When equipped with AWD, the IS 250 returns 20 mpg city/26 highway and 22 combined.


Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are all standard on the 2009 Lexus IS 250. Optional is a pre-collision system (PCS) that comes packaged with adaptive cruise control. The 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 initializes brake assist so increased braking can be applied the instant the brake pedal is pressed.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the IS 250 earned a perfect "Good" rating for its performance in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests. In government crash testing, the IS 250 managed four stars (out of a possible five) for both frontal crash protection and rear side-impact protection. Front-passenger side-impact protection received a five-star rating.

Interior Design and Special Features

The IS 250 boasts a finely wrought interior, with top-notch materials and an attractively sporty design. Fit and finish is generally excellent. Lexus also offers one of the best electronics interfaces in the business, with easy-to-use controls all around. The optional navigation system and accompanying touchscreen are particularly user-friendly.

Most compact luxury sedans aren't generous with rear-seat legroom, and this is particularly true of the IS 250. Adults or even large children may not be happy in the rear seat on long road trips -- especially with a taller driver up front. Don't let the IS 250's four doors fool you; in terms of interior space, it's more akin to a luxury coupe.

Driving Impressions

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 looks like a sport sedan, but in this case, looks are a bit deceiving. The IS 250's high cornering limits make it a capable back road dance partner, but its uncommunicative steering will leave enthusiasts cold and there's too much body roll for a sporting car. The manual transmission extracts maximum performance from the 2.5-liter V6 engine, but the IS 250 isn't quick by any stretch of the imagination, and the V6 feels unusually reluctant to rev. Moreover, the manual shifter itself is decidedly subpar, with excessive lateral spacing between the gear slots and an unpleasantly notchy feel. On the bright side, the IS 250 rides comfortably and the plush cabin is a peaceful place in which to while away the rush hour.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Very pleased with this car

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

I've had the IS250 for 2 months now and it's everything I'd hoped. Great looks, terrific fit and finish on the interior--which sold me over the BMW 3 and even the Audi A4. As others have noted, the ride's not as sporty as some others but I'm not on twisting turning road all that much anyway, whereas the comfort and style are always noted and appreciated. This is my 3rd Lexus (RX & GS) and have loved them all.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

Expensive corolla

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

My first year leasing the IS AWD has been "fine." It is a sporty looking pre-luxury all wheel drive vehicle, top notch reliability and a spectacular dealership experience. Beyond that it's an expensive AWD Corolla with added bells/whistles. It does do a great job in the harsh Midwest winters, but is not nearly as fun to drive as the Audi/VW cars I have owned in past. Its handling is okay but not sporty; the ride is generally compliant but at times punishing. It never "goes" when you need it to and then whines like a four cylinder. I am generally not as excited to drive this Lexus as I was my previous autos, and sadly look forward to returning to a German AWD car when my lease is up.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Great little car

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

Ownership experience has been positive. The car draws favorable reviews for its styling. The fit and finish are excellent. It is quiet and very solid feeling on the road. Only complaint is getting used to a limitation on driver visibility to the rear.

Big disappointment

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

I traded in a Audi A4 for the IS250 and have been quite disappointed. The transmission is rough when shifting, it has no get up and go, and the blind spots are huge. I find myself having to look around a lot more in this car and am way more cautious after several near collisions because of the blind spots. The Audi was fun to drive. The IS250 is a chore. I'm getting rid of it after only 1 year.

Fun commute

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

This car is my third Lexus. It has typical Lexus build quality, good exterior looks, and great brakes and handling. The car is a much more engaging drive than my ES, but not as demanding as a BMW 3. I'm averaging 27 MPG in mixed driving and thoroughly enjoy my commute now. It's quiet and comfortable, though the rear seats are just for show... no one over 12 will want to sit back there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great mid-size sport sedan

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

I chose the IS250 over BMW 3 series and Audi due to superior interior fit and trim. Lexus interior finish is by far higher end than BMW finish at a more affordable price point. Obviously the 250 could use some more power, but you can get that in 350 and the 250 gets great mpg. Combined hwy and cty mileage averages about 26mpg. I get 31mpg on hwy. The audio and nav system is superb. One drawback is not being able to program the nav system while the vehicle is moving. Bluetooth is clear. Dashboard instrumentation layout is very sporty and provides quick reference for temp, tire pressure, mpg and distance to empty. Paddle shifters are nice touch and add some sportiness to daily drive.

Talk About The 2009 IS 250

2009 Lexus IS 250 Discussions See all Started By

I just bought IS 250 2009 RWD Automatic with Nav+18" Wheel+HD lights+Premium plus package+IPOD integration kit+rear spoiler+Wheel Locks for 35900 out the door with 2.9 % APR. Do you think it is...

I am about to lease a IS 250, 2009 automatic for 48 months in Miami. 0 down and monthly payments of 412 (including tax). Am i getting a good deal?...

We will also trade in our 2009 IS 250 AWD with a bit over 35000 miles for $18000. Can't get better deal even the KBB trade in is 19000....

Gas Mileage


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