2022 Lexus IS

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Updated: June 9, 2022

2022 Lexus IS

The Lexus IS is a luxury compact that does many things well, including keeping occupants safe. Milder versions handle well, but the new IS 500 takes things to new heights: it stuffs a 472-horsepower V-8 under the hood, in direct challenge to German and American rivals.

The IS a four-door, but if you want a two-door coupe, there is the similar Lexus RC. The IS was updated last year, including freshened styling, so it’s unchanged for 2022, other than the IS 500.

The entry-level IS 300 comes with a 241-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4, or a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 if it’s AWD. The turbo-4 has moderate power for the IS, while the V-6 is smooth, quick and thirsty.

There is also the IS 350, which raises the V-6’s horsepower to 311, bringing excellent speed to the well-balanced chassis; the IS 350 also has F Sport styling.

The base IS 300 is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. With AWD and the V-6 it gets 19/26/22 mpg. The IS 350 is a bit better, while the IS 500 gets about 20 mpg combined.

The IIHS gives the IS its best rating, Top Safety Pick+, while the NHTSA hasn’t finished its crash testing. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors.

Model Lineup

Made in Japan, the IS 300 starts at less than $40,000 and comes well equipped, with synthetic leather seats and Apple CarPlay with Android Auto and Alexa. The IS 350 with F Sport styling and the V-6 costs about $44,000. Both models offer AWD for $2,000.

A handling package with some luxury equipment and adaptive dampers is about $3,800. Other options include a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system and sunroof.

The new IS 500 costs a little under $58,000. The Premium package for $4,500 adds a 10.3-inch touchscreen, better sound system, and LED headlights.

The warranty is 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Exterior

Even with the styling changes in 2021, the IS hasn’t changed much in 10 years. The wheels on the IS 300 might be boring, but the lines aren’t. It still has a lot of clever creases on the sides, the spindle grille, thin headlights with many little details, and a narrow band of taillights.

The F Sports, namely the IS 350, add nifty strakes and cutouts that generally look pretty good.

Interior

The dashboard is wide, low and appealing, with many switches and knobs that are easy to figure out. The cabin is well appointed, and its fit and finish exceeds many rivals, with good synthetic leather upholstery. The supportive front seats provide a broad view through the windshield.

The touchscreen was new last year, and its infotainment system was updated a few years ago. Lexus trails rivals with its software and input controller.

Rear-seat space is tight for large passengers, and the IS’ trunk is small too, at less that 11 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

Even the IS 300 with the 2.0-liter turbo-4 has poise and power (241 hp). The usual rush of torque from a forced-induction engine gets subdued here, and ultimately we think the higher-output engines better suit the IS’ character.

All-wheel drive is available on the IS 300 with the V-6, and the IS 350. Even though the AWD IS 300 V-6 only has 19 more horsepower than the IS 300 turbo-4, it’s significantly quicker, not to mention smoother.

The IS 350 has 311 horsepower, tuned to bring 51 more hp than the V-6 in the IS 300, and it’s worth it for a fairly small increase in price.

The AWD cars use an 8-speed automatic, while RWD cars use a 6-speed automatic that’s faster with downshifts that are more predictable.

Every IS delivers a good ride and handling. The IS 350 F Sport works best with the optional adaptive dampers, which give it flatter cornering responses while they also give it a more controlled ride.

Strap in tight for the IS 500. Its 5.0-liter V-8, making 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque, can blast from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Because it doesn’t weigh much more than the V-6, it corners so well that it’s fabulous on winding roads. It will understeer when pushed, but that’s to be expected. Because its torque is available early in the powerband, it charges at 3,000 rpm, with a lovely rumble coming from under the hood and out the tailpipes. It has bigger brakes to handle the speed.

Final Word

The 2022 Lexus IS brings a wide range of powertrains to please sport-sedan enthusiasts. We’d start with the IS 350 and its V-6 grunt—but the V-8-powered IS 500 revs right for our heart.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection