2009 Lexus IS 250 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Compliant ride, capable handling, high-quality interior materials, available all-wheel drive.
  • Lackluster power plant, overly soft suspension for enthusiastic driving, cramped backseat.
List Price Range
$10,988 - $12,495

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Edmunds' Expert Review

As an entry-level luxury sedan with a dash of panache, the 2009 Lexus IS 250 is an appealing proposition -- but as a sport sedan, it falls a bit short.

Vehicle overview

It wasn't too long ago that BMW had the entry-level sport sedan segment pretty much to itself. Sure, there were half-hearted efforts to match the magic of the blue-and-white propeller here and there, but the company's 3 Series remained the car to have for compact-sedan buyers who loved to drive. Eventually, though, rival automakers began to realize that this market segment couldn't be ignored. That's why the number of serious entry-level sport sedans has ballooned in recent years -- and why Lexus decided to get into the act by introducing the IS series.

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 (along with its more powerful IS 350 sibling) represents the second such act for Lexus, the previous-generation IS 300 having been the first. Essentially a rebadged Japanese-market Toyota, this initial effort was entertaining enough, but it couldn't quite match class leaders in terms of performance or refinement. The IS 250, on the other hand, was engineered to meet the European and Japanese competition head-on. It's got strikingly taut styling, a sporty interior and even a manual-shift option to complement its rear-wheel-drive layout. In other words, the 2009 Lexus IS 250 has what sport-sedan shoppers are looking for.

At least, that's how it appears on paper. Unfortunately, driving the IS 250 is something of a letdown from the enthusiast's perspective. The 2.5-liter V6 seems rather crude and underpowered compared with the BMW 328i's silky smooth 3.0-liter inline-6, and while the IS 250's steering is accurate, it's notably lacking in feel. Handling is certainly competent, but the IS 250 bounces up and down like a softly sprung luxury sedan over bumps, even with the optional sport suspension. As for the stick shift, fuggedaboutit -- it's easily worst-in-class. On the whole, it seems that Lexus was aiming for a slightly less sporty demographic with this car, namely buyers who want the look of an entry-level sport sedan along with the compliant ride and coddling interior of an entry-level luxury sedan.

If that was the target, then the IS 250 generally hits the bull's-eye. Interior materials quality is excellent, noise levels are Lexus low, and the IS 250's aggressively styled exterior belies its supple suspension tuning. As a sharp-looking compact luxury sedan with a sporty flavor, the IS 250 is an unqualified success. Just know that you may be disappointed if you expect this Lexus to give a 3 Series sedan -- or an Audi A4, or an Infiniti G35, or even a Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport -- a run for its money when the going gets twisty.

2009 Lexus IS 250 models

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 compact luxury sport sedan is available in only 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, park 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, sport-biased tires and aluminum pedals.

2009 Highlights

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 receives a handful of minor tweaks, including subtle interior and exterior styling changes, a more advanced stability control system, slightly revised suspension tuning and a two-tone interior option.

Performance & mpg

The 2009 Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 2.5-liter V6 that generates 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while AWD is available. Transmission options consist of a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, though if you want AWD, you're stuck with the automatic. Our test of a manual-transmission IS 250 yielded a 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds; for reference, a manual-shift BMW 328i will do the same trick in 6.4 seconds.

EPA fuel-economy estimates stand at 21 mpg city/29 highway and 24 combined for rear-wheel-drive models with the automatic transmission, while the manual shifter knocks those numbers down considerably to 18 mpg city/26 highway and 21 combined. When equipped with AWD, the IS 250 returns 20 mpg city/26 highway and 22 combined.


Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are all standard on the 2009 Lexus IS 250. Optional is a pre-collision system (PCS) that comes packaged with adaptive cruise control. The 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 initializes brake assist so increased braking can be applied the instant the brake pedal is pressed.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the IS 250 earned a perfect "Good" rating for its performance in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests. In government crash testing, the IS 250 managed four stars (out of a possible five) for both frontal crash protection and rear side-impact protection. Front-passenger side-impact protection received a five-star rating.


The 2009 Lexus IS 250 looks like a sport sedan, but in this case, looks are a bit deceiving. The IS 250's high cornering limits make it a capable back road dance partner, but its uncommunicative steering will leave enthusiasts cold and there's too much body roll for a sporting car. The manual transmission extracts maximum performance from the 2.5-liter V6 engine, but the IS 250 isn't quick by any stretch of the imagination, and the V6 feels unusually reluctant to rev. Moreover, the manual shifter itself is decidedly subpar, with excessive lateral spacing between the gear slots and an unpleasantly notchy feel. On the bright side, the IS 250 rides comfortably and the plush cabin is a peaceful place in which to while away the rush hour.


The IS 250 boasts a finely wrought interior, with top-notch materials and an attractively sporty design. Fit and finish is generally excellent. Lexus also offers one of the best electronics interfaces in the business, with easy-to-use controls all around. The optional navigation system and accompanying touchscreen are particularly user-friendly.

Most compact luxury sedans aren't generous with rear-seat legroom, and this is particularly true of the IS 250. Adults or even large children may not be happy in the rear seat on long road trips -- especially with a taller driver up front. Don't let the IS 250's four doors fool you; in terms of interior space, it's more akin to a luxury coupe.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 Lexus IS 250.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Very pleased with this car
4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
I've had the IS250 for 2 months now and it's everything I'd hoped. Great looks, terrific fit and finish on the interior--which sold me over the BMW 3 and even the Audi A4. As others have noted, the ride's not as sporty as some others but I'm not on twisting turning road all that much anyway, whereas the comfort and style are always noted and appreciated. This is my 3rd Lexus (RX & GS) and have loved them all.
2018 REVIEW- STILL the best car ever!
Eric Rayel,07/02/2017
4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
This particular year (2009) of the IS250 is stellar. All we can say is it still looks great, handles great in all weather and we have have zero issues with it. We have always maintained it at a Lexus dealership so that helps. Drove it 1,000 miles cross country and then had it shipped to my son- STILL no issues other than maintenance. Bought another Lexus, this time NXT200 and have been very happy with it.
Great mid-size sport sedan
4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
I chose the IS250 over BMW 3 series and Audi due to superior interior fit and trim. Lexus interior finish is by far higher end than BMW finish at a more affordable price point. Obviously the 250 could use some more power, but you can get that in 350 and the 250 gets great mpg. Combined hwy and cty mileage averages about 26mpg. I get 31mpg on hwy. The audio and nav system is superb. One drawback is not being able to program the nav system while the vehicle is moving. Bluetooth is clear. Dashboard instrumentation layout is very sporty and provides quick reference for temp, tire pressure, mpg and distance to empty. Paddle shifters are nice touch and add some sportiness to daily drive.
great Little Car
4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
Ownership experience has been positive. The car draws favorable reviews for its styling. The fit and finish are excellent. It is quiet and very solid feeling on the road. Only complaint is getting used to a limitation on driver visibility to the rear.


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
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2009 Lexus IS 250

Used 2009 Lexus IS 250 Overview

The Used 2009 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). Pre-owned Lexus IS 250 models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 204 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Lexus IS 250 comes with all wheel drive, and rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic, 6-speed manual. The Used 2009 Lexus IS 250 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 6 yr./ 70000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Lexus IS 250?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Lexus IS 250 trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Lexus IS 250 Base is priced between $10,988 and$12,495 with odometer readings between 97196 and110215 miles.

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Which used 2009 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) 2009 Lexus IS 250 for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2009 IS 250s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $10,988 and mileage as low as 97196 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 2009 Lexus IS 250.

Can't find a used 2009 Lexus IS 250s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Lexus IS 250 for sale - 5 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $22,478.

Find a used Lexus for sale - 1 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $20,549.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus IS 250 for sale - 4 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $17,092.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus for sale - 4 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $11,675.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 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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