2012 Lexus IS 250 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Compliant ride
  • high-quality cabin materials
  • quiet interior.
  • Cramped backseat
  • mediocre headroom
  • lackluster engine
  • not as sporty as it looks.
List Price Range
$12,252 - $19,497

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Lexus IS 250 scores points for attractive styling and unshakable reliability, but comes up short in regard to practicality and power.

Vehicle overview

You've no doubt seen them -- guys who wear all the athletic clothing, who look like genuine jocks but who are average at best after they step onto a court or ball field. In a nutshell, that's the 2012 Lexus IS 250. It has the style of a sport sedan, but actual performance once it's on the road is a bit underwhelming.

That's not to say the IS 250 is without its charms. Underneath the crisp contours the IS 250 is as refined as your typical Lexus. Comfort and luxury take priority over performance, and as such, the baby Lexus boasts a finely trimmed cabin, solid build quality and a quiet, isolated ride.

But that coddling comes at the expense of athleticism. Try to have some fun on a winding road and the IS 250 becomes a killjoy with its noticeable body roll, lifeless steering and 204-horsepower V6 that delivers good fuel economy but little excitement. In the 250's defense, one could always increase its jock quotient via the available F Sport package and dealer-installed accessories. But even doing that won't give it a sprinter's kick. For that you'll have to pony up for one of the 250's muscle-bound brothers, the IS 350 or IS F.

Unfortunately, all of the IS variants suffer from a lack of interior space, especially in the cramped backseat, which is notably short on legroom. As a result, the 2012 Lexus IS 250 remains a second-stringer among star athletes in the luxury sport sedan segment. Buyers who lean toward comfort will find similar luxury and more space in alternatives such as the Acura TSX, Audi A4, Cadillac CTS and Volvo S60. And if you want real performance to go along with the sporty looks, we suggest checking out the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G Sedan.

2012 Lexus IS 250 models

The 2012 Lexus IS 250 is a compact luxury sedan that is offered in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive trim levels, which correspond to drivetrain choices. The other IS models, including the convertibles and the high-performance IS F, are reviewed separately.

Standard equipment on the IS 250 includes 17-inch wheels, foglamps, heated mirrors, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats (includes two-way lumbar control), leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are the Safety Connect telematics system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 13-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface. The IS 250 AWD adds all-wheel drive and heated front seats.

The Navigation System package adds a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth phonebook downloading, a rearview camera, voice commands, real-time traffic and other information and Lexus Enform enhanced telematics features. A 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system can be added to the navigation system. The Luxury package adds xenon headlamps, auto-dimming outside mirrors, automatic wipers, a power rear sunshade, driver memory functions, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and wood trim. Rear-wheel-drive models gain 18-inch wheels. Front and rear parking sensors are optional.

The F Sport package (available only on RWD models with an automatic transmission) adds dark-finish 18-inch F Sport wheels, grille inserts, front and rear spoilers, a sport-tuned suspension and heated F Sport seats with microfiber inserts and leather bolsters. Front and rear parking sensors are a stand-alone option. Additional F Sport options include 18-inch wheels for AWD models, 19-inch wheels for RWD models, a performance air intake, a sport clutch (manual transmission only), a performance exhaust system, upgraded brakes, sport suspension components, a quick-shift kit and a carbon-fiber engine cover and shift knob.

2012 Highlights

The 2012 Lexus IS 250 is unchanged.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 2.5-liter V6 that produces 204 hp and 185 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can choose between rear- or all-wheel-drive variants. Rear-drive models can be had with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, while the AWD is only available with the automatic.

In a recent Edmunds test, an IS 250 with a manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds; the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series are quicker by at least a full second. Estimated fuel economy with rear-wheel drive and the automatic is 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. The manual returns 18/26/21, while the all-wheel-drive model gets 20/26/22.


Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and Safety Connect. The latter is a traditional telematics service with automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle locator and an emergency assistance button.

In Edmunds brake testing, an IS 250 with 18-inch wheels and all-season tires came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 113 feet. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the IS 250 a perfect "Good" rating for its performance in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.


As a sport sedan, the 2012 Lexus IS 250 is notable for its high cornering limits. They are even higher if you opt for the F Sport performance enhancements. Other aspects of the IS's driving dynamics will likely leave enthusiasts a bit disappointed, however. The uncommunicative steering does little to give the driver a feel for the road, while the noticeable body roll and lackluster acceleration further dilute the sense of performance. Otherwise, the IS 250 presents a comfortable ride in a tranquil setting that will insulate you from the distractions of the outside world.


The 2012 Lexus IS 250's sporty interior is as good as you'll find in this segment. Supple leathers and wood or metallic accents are top-notch, with soft-touch plastic materials covering most every other surface. All of these elements are well assembled for an overall excellent fit and finish. Controls throughout the cabin are intuitive and easy to use, as is the optional touchscreen navigation system. The iPod interface, on the other hand, can be a bit frustrating.

The IS 250 is short on rear-seat legroom and feels very cramped overall compared to other compact luxury sedans. Even with an average-size driver up front, those relegated to the rear will likely find their quarters as unaccommodating as in the coupe. The trunk can hold a maximum of 13 cubic feet of luggage, which is about average for cars in this class.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Lexus IS 250.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Just what I wanted
4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
Had it now for two months. A trip to Florida quickly put 3300 miles on the odometer. The surprise is gas mileage. I have averaged 25+mpg overall, and the Florida trip averaged 33mpg! I would say performance is good, but it takes a heavy foot to get the revs up there for excellent acceleration. I drove a BMW325 while looking. I do not detect any better response at all while driving, and the interior quality and technological features are not even close to the IS. BMW reliability is sketchy at best, and am not interested in that. I am very satisfied with my IS!
My favorite purchase to date!
4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
I went to test a cert pre owned IS 250 and walked out with a lease on a new premium pkg black with tan interior, spoiler and nav. Great car. Period. The acceleration is lacking when you first get going but this car flies down the highway. No problem passing, handles like a pro. I almost feel like a race car driver and I'm not pushing the speed limit (not too much anyway). The LED headlights are sharp on this car and definitely earns her looks. Gas mileage is average for this car, no complaints.
High Quality, good looks
4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
I have a 2012 IS250 with AWD and NAV. Interior is very high quality. Seats are comfortable, although the backseat is abit tight but still comfortable. Ride is abit stiff, but handling around corners is excellent. Power steering is a little stiff for being electric, but will have the dealer look into that. Gas mileage is good for V6 (27 MPG). Very sporty looking, gets admired by other drivers.
My Lexusbis Ms. Pearl
Charles Walsh,06/26/2018
4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 6A)
I love my 2012 Lexus IS 250. I haven’t had any issue major or minor.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover10.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2012 Lexus IS 250

Used 2012 Lexus IS 250 Overview

The Used 2012 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). 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 2012 Lexus IS 250 comes with rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic, 6-speed manual. The Used 2012 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 2012 Lexus IS 250?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Lexus IS 250 trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Lexus IS 250 Base is priced between $12,252 and$19,497 with odometer readings between 83262 and114487 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 2012 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) 2012 Lexus IS 250 for sale near. There are currently 6 used and CPO 2012 IS 250s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $12,252 and mileage as low as 83262 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 2012 Lexus IS 250.

Can't find a used 2012 Lexus IS 250s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Lexus IS 250 for sale - 11 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $8,275.

Find a used Lexus for sale - 1 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $22,460.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus IS 250 for sale - 9 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $18,171.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus for sale - 2 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $12,575.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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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