2017 Lexus IS 200t

2017 Lexus IS 200t Review

The 2017 Lexus IS 200t is a well-crafted entry-level luxury sedan, though not a sport sedan.
3.5 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Jason Kavanagh
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2017 Lexus IS 200t is the automaker's most accessible alternative to the well-known European luxury sedan competition. With a well-honed ride, ample features and low noise levels, it's got the refinement to be a convincing choice.

The IS line, which includes the 200t and the V6-powered IS 300 and IS 350, has never been the most sporting choice relative to its European rivals, and the current model is no exception. Acceleration from the 200t's four-cylinder engine is merely average, and the car's handling capabilities are nothing special. But it carves its own initials in the tree of entry-level luxury with its quiet cabin and well-executed ride quality, and it doesn't pummel you with overtly sport-oriented inclinations. Moreover, the 200t's style owes nothing to its German rivals.



What's new for 2017

For 2017, the IS 200t receives a mild cosmetic face-lift, including larger air intakes in the bumper, new LED headlamps and grille. At the back are revised taillights and exhaust tips. It also gets last year's optional suite of driver assistance safety features as standard equipment and minor interior style and control revisions and a larger display screen for the optional navigation system.

We recommend

Though V6-powered IS 300 and IS 350 versions are available, we'll assume you're interested in the four-cylinder IS 200t. There is just the one trim level, so the real decision-making occurs when faced with how to equip the IS 200t. Ultimately it just comes down to which optional features you want. From our standpoint, the F Sport package is too dear for the bits it includes, so instead tick the box for the Premium package and leave it at that.




Trim levels & features

Selecting a trim level for the 2017 IS 200t is a trivial affair, because there is but one. All IS 200t sedans are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (241 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) and drive the rear wheels solely through an eight-speed automatic transmission. (All-wheel drive is available via the V6-powered IS 300, reviewed separately.) A variety of option packages include some desirable features, but it helps to be decisive about which features you truly want because some of them are available in multiple packages or as standalone selections.

For instance, a backup camera is available on its own or bundled in the Premium or Luxury packages. Those packages have many other items that you may or may not want.

Standard equipment includes a solid array of features including LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, premium vinyl seat upholstery, a 10-speaker sound system, a 7-inch display screen, and keyless entry and ignition. Eighteen-inch wheels are optional, as is navigation, a heated steering wheel, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. If you're interested, check out the F Sport package, which includes revised exterior styling, a sport-tuned suspension, sport front seats and special interior trim.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Lexus IS 200t with the F Sport package (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | RWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5

Driving

3.0 / 5

Acceleration3.0 / 5
Braking2.5 / 5
Steering3.0 / 5
Handling3.0 / 5
Drivability4.0 / 5

Comfort

4.0 / 5

Seat comfort2.5 / 5
Ride comfort5.0 / 5
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5

Interior

2.5 / 5

Ease of use2.0 / 5
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5
Roominess2.5 / 5
Visibility3.0 / 5
Quality4.0 / 5

Utility

2.0 / 5

Small-item storage2.5 / 5
Cargo space2.0 / 5

Driving3.0

The highlight of the 2017 IS 200t is its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Handling dynamics aren't this car's strongest suit, though you can still have fun whipping this luxury compact around a bend or two.

Acceleration3.0

The turbocharged engine is eager at low revs and sounds more refined than BMW's 2.0-liter engine. In our testing, a 200t accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. That's not great, but the engine feels strong in real-world driving.

Braking2.5

Brake pedal travel is surprisingly short and stiff for a Lexus and lacking a sense of stopping power. In our emergency panic-braking test, the IS 200t stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet, which is below average for a car on summer-rated tires.

Steering3.0

The steering feels natural and direct when you turn the wheel but lacks road feel, which is important if your front tires ever lose grip. The IS 200t fails to provide confidence in this area, and that's critical for spirited driving.

Handling3.0

Even with the stickier optional 18-inch summer tires, the IS 200t's grip and balance around turns don't really impress. Quick directional changes are more to its liking than long, sustained corners.

Drivability4.0

Power is more than sufficient, but the eight-speed automatic transmission's shifting can feel languid at times. It takes about a second to select the right gear if you mat the gas for a big downshift, which is too slow if you're trying to get out of the way.

Comfort4.0

Excellent ride comfort and the serene quietness of the 2017 IS' cabin are the big standouts in this area. We are also happy with the seats, though sitting in the saddle for a few hours can take a small toll on your lower back due to some mismatched lumbar ergonomics.

Seat comfort2.5

There's adequate lateral seat support, and the optional ventilation and heating work well. The amount of lumbar support is adjustable, but the position is fixed and sits too high to provide long-distance comfort for an average-size driver.

Ride comfort5.0

The IS delivers combines solid body control with smooth compliance at all the right times. Bumps and impacts are absorbed without issue, yet there's no hint of a marshmallowy ride or overly soft suspension tune. Very good.

Noise & vibration4.5

Great attention went into the IS' cabin soundproofing. Road and wind noise is sufficiently silenced, and you don't hear much of the engine. Quiet cabins are more comfortable and can promote calmer reactions in emergencies.

Interior2.5

The IS struggles with finding a balance between innovation and complication. The infotainment system interface lacks user-friendly qualities, and basic cupholder ergonomics seem like afterthoughts. This is a cabin with mediocre usability.

Ease of use2.0

Lexus' haptic joystick interface for the infotainment system is cumbersome to use, and it snags smartphone charger cords with ease. The touch sliders for the climate control — which look cool and work well — are the best cabin features.

Getting in/getting out3.0

Even with the easy-entry retracting steering wheel, it's not difficult to graze a knee against the column climbing into the driver seat. The rear door openings are on the smaller side and could prove difficult for less flexible passengers.

Roominess2.5

Cabin space is not abundant. For an average-size driver, the center tunnel console seems needlessly wide, and the armrests can feel intrusive. The rear bench has less legroom than in some competitors, and the center seat has marginal headroom.

Visibility3.0

Forward visibility is great. Rear headrests don't impede the view directly rearward, but huge rear pillars and a high body slope create blind spots when reversing. The optional parking sensors and rearview camera are recommended.

Quality4.0

Other than the steering-wheel leather that looks and feels like wrinkled skin by the thumb holds, this interior is done well. The seats have quality stitching, and all contact surfaces are soft with tight panel fit and solid door seals.

Utility2.0

The smallish trunk that doesn't fold flat and limited interior storage conspire against the IS 200t's utility.

Small-item storage2.5

Storage up front is limited to the armrest, door pockets and glovebox.

Cargo space2.0

At 10.8 cubic feet, cargo space is on the small side for the class. The rear seatbacks fold forward, but hardly flat. The unevenness limits what you can carry with the seats down.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.