2012 Lexus IS 250 Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 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 Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 204 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Lexus IS 250

  • The 2012 Lexus IS 250 scores points for attractive styling and unshakable reliability, but comes up short in regard to practicality and power.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Compliant ride; high-quality cabin materials; quiet interior.

  • Cons

    Cramped backseat; mediocre headroom; lackluster engine; not as sporty as it looks.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Lexus IS 250 is unchanged.

Full 2012 Lexus IS 250 Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Lexus IS 250 is unchanged.


You've no doubt seen them -- guys who wear all the athletic clothing, who look like genuine jocks but who are average at best after they step onto a court or ball field. In a nutshell, that's the 2012 Lexus IS 250. It has the style of a sport sedan, but actual performance once it's on the road is a bit underwhelming.

That's not to say the IS 250 is without its charms. Underneath the crisp contours the IS 250 is as refined as your typical Lexus. Comfort and luxury take priority over performance, and as such, the baby Lexus boasts a finely trimmed cabin, solid build quality and a quiet, isolated ride.

But that coddling comes at the expense of athleticism. Try to have some fun on a winding road and the IS 250 becomes a killjoy with its noticeable body roll, lifeless steering and 204-horsepower V6 that delivers good fuel economy but little excitement. In the 250's defense, one could always increase its jock quotient via the available F Sport package and dealer-installed accessories. But even doing that won't give it a sprinter's kick. For that you'll have to pony up for one of the 250's muscle-bound brothers, the IS 350 or IS F.

Unfortunately, all of the IS variants suffer from a lack of interior space, especially in the cramped backseat, which is notably short on legroom. As a result, the 2012 Lexus IS 250 remains a second-stringer among star athletes in the luxury sport sedan segment. Buyers who lean toward comfort will find similar luxury and more space in alternatives such as the Acura TSX, Audi A4, Cadillac CTS and Volvo S60. And if you want real performance to go along with the sporty looks, we suggest checking out the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G Sedan.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Lexus IS 250 is a compact luxury sedan that is offered in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive trim levels, which correspond to drivetrain choices. The other IS models, including the convertibles and the high-performance IS F, are reviewed separately.

Standard equipment on the IS 250 includes 17-inch wheels, foglamps, heated mirrors, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats (includes two-way lumbar control), leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are the Safety Connect telematics system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 13-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface. The IS 250 AWD adds all-wheel drive and heated front seats.

The Navigation System package adds a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth phonebook downloading, a rearview camera, voice commands, real-time traffic and other information and Lexus Enform enhanced telematics features. A 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system can be added to the navigation system. The Luxury package adds xenon headlamps, auto-dimming outside mirrors, automatic wipers, a power rear sunshade, driver memory functions, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and wood trim. Rear-wheel-drive models gain 18-inch wheels. Front and rear parking sensors are optional.

The F Sport package (available only on RWD models with an automatic transmission) adds dark-finish 18-inch F Sport wheels, grille inserts, front and rear spoilers, a sport-tuned suspension and heated F Sport seats with microfiber inserts and leather bolsters. Front and rear parking sensors are a stand-alone option. Additional F Sport options include 18-inch wheels for AWD models, 19-inch wheels for RWD models, a performance air intake, a sport clutch (manual transmission only), a performance exhaust system, upgraded brakes, sport suspension components, a quick-shift kit and a carbon-fiber engine cover and shift knob.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 2.5-liter V6 that produces 204 hp and 185 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can choose between rear- or all-wheel-drive variants. Rear-drive models can be had with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, while the AWD is only available with the automatic.

In a recent Edmunds test, an IS 250 with a manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds; the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series are quicker by at least a full second. Estimated fuel economy with rear-wheel drive and the automatic is 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. The manual returns 18/26/21, while the all-wheel-drive model gets 20/26/22.


Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and Safety Connect. The latter is a traditional telematics service with automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle locator and an emergency assistance button.

In Edmunds brake testing, an IS 250 with 18-inch wheels and all-season tires came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 113 feet. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the IS 250 a perfect "Good" rating for its performance in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Lexus IS 250's sporty interior is as good as you'll find in this segment. Supple leathers and wood or metallic accents are top-notch, with soft-touch plastic materials covering most every other surface. All of these elements are well assembled for an overall excellent fit and finish. Controls throughout the cabin are intuitive and easy to use, as is the optional touchscreen navigation system. The iPod interface, on the other hand, can be a bit frustrating.

The IS 250 is short on rear-seat legroom and feels very cramped overall compared to other compact luxury sedans. Even with an average-size driver up front, those relegated to the rear will likely find their quarters as unaccommodating as in the coupe. The trunk can hold a maximum of 13 cubic feet of luggage, which is about average for cars in this class.

Driving Impressions

As a sport sedan, the 2012 Lexus IS 250 is notable for its high cornering limits. They are even higher if you opt for the F Sport performance enhancements. Other aspects of the IS's driving dynamics will likely leave enthusiasts a bit disappointed, however. The uncommunicative steering does little to give the driver a feel for the road, while the noticeable body roll and lackluster acceleration further dilute the sense of performance. Otherwise, the IS 250 presents a comfortable ride in a tranquil setting that will insulate you from the distractions of the outside world.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

High quality, good looks

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

I have a 2012 IS250 with AWD and NAV. Interior is very high quality. Seats are comfortable, although the backseat is abit tight but still comfortable. Ride is abit stiff, but handling around corners is excellent. Power steering is a little stiff for being electric, but will have the dealer look into that. Gas mileage is good for V6 (27 MPG). Very sporty looking, gets admired by other drivers.

My favorite purchase to date!

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

I went to test a cert pre owned IS 250 and walked out with a lease on a new premium pkg black with tan interior, spoiler and nav. Great car. Period. The acceleration is lacking when you first get going but this car flies down the highway. No problem passing, handles like a pro. I almost feel like a race car driver and I'm not pushing the speed limit (not too much anyway). The LED headlights are sharp on this car and definitely earns her looks. Gas mileage is average for this car, no complaints.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

Just what i wanted

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

Had it now for two months. A trip to Florida quickly put 3300 miles on the odometer. The surprise is gas mileage. I have averaged 25+mpg overall, and the Florida trip averaged 33mpg! I would say performance is good, but it takes a heavy foot to get the revs up there for excellent acceleration. I drove a BMW325 while looking. I do not detect any better response at all while driving, and the interior quality and technological features are not even close to the IS. BMW reliability is sketchy at best, and am not interested in that. I am very satisfied with my IS!

43 of 111 people found this review helpful

Very fun and alot for

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Lexus IS 250 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)

Just bought the 2012 IS with Nav Package, Premium Package, rear spoiler. I love the Nebula Gray pearl and light gray leather. Traded in my Audi A4 and couldn't be happier. The Lexus dealer was so nice and accommodating (as i've always heard about Lexus dealers). My Audi had so many electrical issues and this Lexus is a dream to drive! You can't feel it shifting and it's so smooth on the highway. Build quality is top notch. My friend got rid of his BMW X3 for an RX350 the same day so we got a great deal!! LOVE Lexus.

Talk About The 2012 IS 250

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Identifix Reliability Ratings

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