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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 steering, a high-quality interior and an extensive array of high-tech features.
However, choices are many in the highly competitive entry-luxury sedan market. The Lexus IS 250 is a respectable pick, but its lack of serious speed will deter hard-core enthusiasts. First-generation cars also suffered from a cramped rear seat and mediocre amounts of headroom up front. The newest-generation IS 250 is roomier, however, making it more appealing from a practical standpoint.
Used Lexus IS 250 Models
The previous-generation Lexus IS 250 was introduced for the 2006 model year and lasted through 2013. Although it used the same 2.5-liter V6 engine as the current IS, it was a significantly smaller car and passenger quarters were quite snug.
This IS 250 could be had with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Its 2.5-liter V6 produced 204 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. Rear-drive models could be had with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, while the AWD car was only available with the automatic.
Standard equipment varied over time but typically included 17-inch alloy wheels, power front seats, leather upholstery and a premium sound system. Major options included xenon headlights, heated and 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.
In reviews, we found this Lexus IS 250 was smooth-riding and quiet but not very involving to drive due to merely adequate acceleration and lifeless steering. Inside, the leather-lined Lexus IS 250 felt luxurious even in standard spec. But taller drivers often took issue with the lack of headroom up front, while the backseat offered considerably less legroom than most competing luxury sport sedans of the same time period.
There were a few notable changes during the car's seven-year run. 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 (a change from the earlier DVD-based unit). After 2012, the manual transmission was no longer available. Tech fans should note that these IS 250 models lack much of the current car's available tech features, including HD radio and smartphone app integration.
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 was even smaller than the second-generation Lexus IS. It wasn't particularly refined or luxurious either, as its cabin design was more reminiscent of a Toyota than a Lexus.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Lexus IS 250 page.