2008 Lexus IS 250 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Capable handling, impeccably finished cabin, advanced safety technology, good fuel economy on the rear-wheel-drive automatic model, available all-wheel drive.
  • Cramped rear-seat space, tight headroom, options packages can be pricey.
List Price Range
$7,981 - $11,997

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Athletic poise, impressive build quality and plenty of luxury features put the 2008 Lexus IS 250 high on our list of entry-level luxury sport sedans.

Vehicle overview

Earlier this decade, Lexus introduced its first entry-level luxury sport sedan, the IS. It was a decent performer with sharp reflexes, but its cabin was cramped and had about as much sporty flavor as a Scion. A couple of years ago, Lexus upped its game, replacing the IS 300 with the IS 250 and IS 350.

The two cars are more buff, more luxurious and more sporting than their predecessor. As half of Lexus' tag-teaming sport sedan line, the 2008 IS 250 boasts a sophisticated suspension, powerful brakes and a sprightly V6 under its neatly tailored sheet metal. The cabin is a model of refinement and classy design, with most cutting-edge luxury features either standard or optional. The IS 250 isn't as powerful as the 350, but it is less expensive and the only one of the two to offer all-wheel drive.

Like its forbear, the 2008 Lexus IS 250 faces competition from BMW -- in this case, the 328i. In addition, there's also the Audi A4, Acura TL and Infiniti G35 to think about. And honestly, you can't lose with any of them. The Infiniti and Acura, in particular, boast considerably more power and roomier backseats. Meanwhile, the BMW still takes the trophy for ultimate driving enjoyment. But with its athletic moves, impressive overall quality, reputation for reliability and generous features list, the well-rounded IS 250 remains worthy of strong consideration.

2008 Lexus IS 250 models

The 2008 Lexus IS 250 is a compact luxury sport sedan that's offered in 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, parking 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, larger tires and alloy foot pedals.

2008 Highlights

For the 2008 Lexus IS 250, a handful of minor changes take place, including a new "Liquid Graphite" finish for the wheels, revised front seatbacks (to provide more rear legroom), recalibrated steering for better feel and the addition of a coin holder.

Performance & mpg

As one may infer from the model name, a 2.5-liter V6 powers the IS 250. It makes a respectable 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Buyers may choose either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. One may have either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic in the rear-drive IS 250, while the AWD version is automatic only. Our test of a manual-transmission IS 250 yielded a respectable 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds, but expect automatic-equipped models to be at least a half-second slower.

Revised fuel economy estimates stand at 21 city and 29 highway for the IS 250 automatic, which is excellent for this segment. The manual gearbox and the AWD versions produce average results, with 18/26 and 20/26 respectively.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control and a full complement of airbags (front-seat side and full-length side curtain) are all standard. Optional is a pre-collision system (PCS) that is packaged with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. 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 pre-initializes brake assist so increased braking is applied the instant the brake pedal is pressed.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the IS 250 earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for its performance in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Driving

The 2008 Lexus IS 250's manual transmission allows drivers to wring out the most performance from the car's small V6 engine, though most buyers will be suitably happy with the automatic that delivers better-than-average fuel economy. On a twisty road, the IS 250's precise steering and buttoned-down suspension inspire confidence. The ride is controlled yet comfortably supple, and the plush cabin, devoid of noise and vibration, is a fine example of tranquility.

Interior

The 2008 Lexus IS 250 boasts impressive interior materials, a handsome design and plenty of luxury features. Impeccable fit and finish is evident everywhere, from the soft-touch dash and door panels to the supple leather on the seats. Lexus also offers one of the best electronics interfaces in the luxury game, with easy-to-use controls all around. The optional navigation system and accompanying touchscreen are particularly friendly.

Most compact sport sedans aren't generous with rear-seat legroom, but this is particularly true with the IS 250. Even with this year's marginal improvement in legroom (that comes via scooped-out front seatbacks), adults or even large children may not be happy in the rear seat on long road trips -- especially with a taller driver up front. Headroom is also in short supply in both front and rear. If you're at all above average in size, the IS may prove to be no more spacious than a luxury coupe.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Lexus IS 250.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Best car I have ever owned
tony3434,05/27/2014
My 5th car. This one has been by far the most reliable and pleasant to drive. Not one single issue. I wish the seats folded and that it had Bluetooth. Everything about this vehicle is solid. Tire issue but that can be avoided. Factory alignment will make the insides of your tires wear in half the time but there are shops out there that will align it so the wheels are not angled out as much. I average 27 mpg. Max has been 29mpg. If you really tone it down, 31 mpg hw. These figures are obtained by resetting the trip odometer and then dividing the number of gal it took to refill. I am not that tall so the car fits me great. 5 people in the car is a squeeze but not that bad.
Just gas and oil
Justin Wasserman,07/21/2016
4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
I've owned by IS 250 for 8 years now and I have literally only put gas and oil in it. Nothing has gone wrong. I do the various required maintenance (at 30K miles, and so on), but it's been a great car. The dealer just wrote me a letter asking if he could buy it back and I honestly can't come close to being able to replace the car with something half as nice for the same price. It's a keeper.
Perfect Marriage of Luxury and Sport
Birdman46077,05/10/2008
Full disclosure: I am an engineer with 20+ years of quality experience, so I am very picky. This car is the perfect marriage of luxury and sports car. The build quality is very apparent, both inside and out. It is extremely quiet and smooth, although the suspension is a tad stiff on rougher roads. The paint is absolutely beautiful. Picking a color is the toughest decision, once you decide to buy. The engine will not impress true sports car enthusiasts, but I think Lexus hit the nail on the head by combining "very good" performance with "great" gas mileage. I'm getting 28 MPG consistently.
2008 IS250 with manual transmission
ardinos,10/27/2013
Very good torque throught the manual gears, especial 1 thru 4; holds turns very well; easy to handle/steer - good wheel feel; powerful breaking; and still quite, espec. when touring; AND signif. more power to the rear wheels than the automatic. But ... nothing like the MT in my 1994 Lexus ES300. I had many problems with IS manual trans. After buying IS250 as CPO with only 2k miles, all kinds of MT came up: the worst being the flywheel was warped and I could get the car to move away in 1st from a stop -smoothly and with no jerkiness. It was maddening; had to argue and convince Lexus to take it seriously. Finally, 13,000 mi later, they replaced flywheel, which showed hot spots throughout.

Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
204 hp @ 6400 rpm
MPG
21 city / 29 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 2008 Lexus IS 250 features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
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 2008 Lexus IS 250

Used 2008 Lexus IS 250 Overview

The Used 2008 Lexus IS 250 is offered in the following submodels: IS 250 Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A), 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A), and 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Lexus IS 250?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Lexus IS 250 trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Lexus IS 250 Base is priced between $7,981 and$11,997 with odometer readings between 52117 and143865 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Lexus IS 250s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Lexus IS 250 for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2008 IS 250s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,981 and mileage as low as 52117 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Lexus IS 250.

Can't find a used 2008 Lexus IS 250s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Lexus IS 250 for sale - 12 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $11,832.

Find a used Lexus for sale - 3 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $16,173.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus IS 250 for sale - 7 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $13,326.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus for sale - 9 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $8,216.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 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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Check out Lexus IS 250 lease specials