2006 Lexus IS 250 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Capable handling, highly refined, class-leading interior quality, advanced safety technology, optional all-wheel drive.
  • Horsepower is adequate at best, lacks passion and performance of German alternatives, limited rear-seat space.
List Price Estimate
$3,079 - $6,416

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The IS 250 is an advanced and refined entry-luxury sedan, but if you're looking for maximum sport sedan performance, test-drive the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G35 before making a buying decision.

Vehicle overview

Since 2001, the Lexus IS 300 has taken on the BMW 3 Series with marginal success. Although it never really lit up the sales charts, the rear-wheel-drive IS 300 has earned a small but loyal -- and young -- following. When it came time to create the second generation of the IS, Lexus had to design a sedan with expanded appeal that wouldn't disenfranchise the kids. A tall order, but one the IS 250 meets with commendable success. The 2006 Lexus IS 250 sedan is bigger and more luxurious than the car it replaces. Buyers can choose between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, and a standard six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic.

Since Lexus already had an excellent rear-drive platform in its recently redesigned GS, it became the starting point for the new IS. By carving out 4.7 inches of the GS's wheelbase and lopping off 4.4 inches of front and rear overhang, Lexus had the basic structure of the new IS. The GS's double-wishbone front and independent multilink rear suspension moves intact to the IS and is retuned for the new application. The IS 300's straight six has been replaced by a new 2.5-liter V6 engine that features VVT-i variable valve timing and makes 204 horsepower. Also coming from the GS is the suite of electronic technologies --traction control, stability control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist -- that Lexus groups together as the "Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management" (VDIM for acronym lovers). VDIM is optional on the IS 250.

Behind the wheel, the IS 250 is all about comfort and coddling, offering the sort of gentle driving experience Lexus is known for while trailing the 3 Series in terms of athleticism. For those more interested in a luxury car than a sport sedan, though, the capable Lexus represents a worthwhile choice, offering a plush interior, refined drivetrain and exquisite assembly quality.

2006 Lexus IS 250 models

The IS 250 comes in just one trim level. The standard features list includes keyless entry and ignition, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power doors and windows, cruise control, leather seating, a moonroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 13-speaker premium audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer. Optional is a 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system that delivers 5.1 multichannel playback. Other notable options include 18-inch wheels, 10-way power seats, a navigation system, heated/ventilated seats, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (which allows drivers to set a preferred interval between the IS and traffic ahead), rear park assist, rain-sensing wipers, corner-adaptive headlamps, Bluetooth connectivity and bi-HID headlights.

2006 Highlights

For 2006, Lexus debuts the all-new IS 250. Replacing the previous IS 300, the IS 250 brings forth new powertrains, more features and a higher-quality cabin.

Performance & mpg

Under the IS 250's hood is a 2.5-liter V6. Lexus rates it at 204 horsepower at 6,400 rpm with 185 pound-feet of peak torque at 4,800 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. The IS 250 is rear-drive but Lexus also offers an all-wheel-drive version. The latter comes with the six-speed automatic only.

Safety

Safety equipment includes front and rear side curtain airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist, and stability control. An optional Pre-Collision System (PCS) -- packaged with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control -- uses a millimeter-wave radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car. If the computer determines that a collision is unavoidable it preemptively stiffens the suspension, retracts the front seatbelts and pre-initializes BrakeAssist so increased braking is applied the instant the brake pedal is depressed. In crash tests, the IS earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for its performance in IIHS frontal offset and side-impact testing.

Driving

The IS 250 cruises along freeways like the luxury car it is. Acceleration is adequate for this class of car. The manual transmission allows one to wring out a bit more speed but overall the automatic is a better choice. The ride is controlled but soft, and its silent cabin, devoid of any noise, harshness or vibration, is a portrait of tranquility. On twisting roads this smallest of Lexus sedans is comfortable, reassuring and competent.

Interior

The new IS 250 features impressive interior materials, an attractive cabin design and plenty of luxury amenities. Everything from the soft-touch dash and door panels to the supple leather seats exudes high quality. Rear seating isn't as comfortable as we'd like, which surprised us given the IS 250's growth from the old IS 300 days. The answer lies in the wheelbase, which is 1.2 inches shorter than the new BMW 3 Series and offers minimal rear legroom. If you regularly carry adults -- or even large children -- in the rear seat you might consider the Audi A4 or Infiniti G35.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2006 Lexus IS 250.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Awesome Car
Gregg,11/22/2006
I shopped the BMW 3 series, Infiniti G35 sedan and let me tell you the IS 250 blew them away. You get a real hot car with a lot more toys.This is coming from a guy who is very very picky when it comes to cars. I was willing to pay up to $40,000 for my new car but as you see I did not have to. This car had everything I wanted period.
IS250 AWD
butterfly16,10/04/2011
I purchased this car, used in 2009. There was one previous owner. The car drives pretty well. It is not full of power though as one might expect with this car. However, there are a few quirks about the car that always drove me crazy! For no reason, at 36K up until 75K (I got rid of it), the car would idle at a stop and almost stall. I knew something was wrong. The dealership could never identify the problem. Aside from the many recalls, there was another incident when the engine light appeared. I read that others had the same problem, so I assume that it is just super senstive if you "top" off gas. Who knows? The backseat is not even worthy of mention. It is so tight and crammed.
To IS250 or not IS250? That is the question!
CarGuy2015,03/24/2016
4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6M)
First and foremost yes to IS250! That is the answer! I've been a long time BMW fan and enjoyed driving the crap out of them. I've owned at least ten of them in my lifetime. But one too many expensive repair trips left me wanting something sporty yet reliable. My first experience was with the Lexus GS300, loaded to the gills with Navigation, Mark Levinson sound, DVD, park distance control, etc. I recently sold my daughter's Honda Accord with 192,000 miles. A great car for the money and reliable as well but with none of the Lexus care. I told my daughter not to worry that her mode of transportation would not be gone for too long. Enter the Lexus IS250. Taught lines and and a sporty appearance with 18" sport rims are a winner! Included are navigation and back up camera, heated and cooled seats, etc. I bought it for my daughter, used and slightly abused because the previous owner had a dog and lived in San Francisco. Yet all of the Lexus dealer service records indicated that at least the drive train was in perfect running order. Basically, purchased it for the KBB dealer trade-in price which was about $3000 more than I sold the Honda Accord for and daughter definitely approved of the appearance overall and tremendously discounted price due to scratched bumper. Lexus has always had a reputation for reliability and they have really taken care of this car. Lexus has made several recalls on this car and a major engine recall where the piston rings were faulty. So, 127,000 miles on the odometer, I basically have a just like new Lexus certified rebuilt engine! BOO-YAH! WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER! My wife drives it and loves it so much, she has to battle my daughter for the use of the car. They're both petite, so, it fits them both perfectly and I don't worry because of the safety features and good gas mileage. My only gripe is that it is tight in the back seat and owning a GS300 for myself leaves me to believe that in comparison of quality the GS300 is much higher. Get what you pay for. Edit 3/23/2018: Driver's seat is now ripped due to the fact that it is vinyl. Sad. Edit 9/29/2018: Dashboard looks like its beginning to melt. Sadder still.
I Love This Car
Dave,07/19/2016
4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
I previously owned a 1995 Lexus ES300 which I bought from a friend when he bought the 2006 IS250 AWD. I put over 100,000 miles on the ES after I bought it and thoroughly enjoyed that car. But, I have been telling him since he bought the IS that i wanted it when he was ready for his next new Lexus. This past Saturday he bought a new RX 350 and I bought the IS with 95000 miles on it for a little less than the trade-in value. It is comfortable to drive, has enough pep for this old fart, looks amazing (the previous owner took meticulous care of it), and is everything I wanted. Two years later, I still love this car 8/1/17 - we are now a year later, and I still love this car. Because I live so close to work, I have only put 6200 miles on it. It has been everything I hoped for 2/1/18 - Another 6 months, and I still love it. No problems. No issues. Routine maintenance. What a fun car!! 8/1/18 - still lovin’ The car. It is awesome!

Features & Specs

MPG
21 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
204 hp @ 6400 rpm
MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
204 hp @ 6400 rpm
MPG
18 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
204 hp @ 6400 rpm
See all Used 2006 Lexus IS 250 features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Acceptable
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2006 Lexus IS 250

Used 2006 Lexus IS 250 Overview

The Used 2006 Lexus IS 250 is offered in the following submodels: IS 250 Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A), 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A), and 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2006 Lexus IS 250?

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Which used 2006 Lexus IS 250s are available in my area?

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Find a used Lexus IS 250 for sale - 11 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $19,211.

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Should I lease or buy a 2006 Lexus IS 250?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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