The IS got a nose job, new safety features, and some updated technology

When the Lexus IS debuted for the 2013 model year, it was a sporty sedan that sold much better than even Lexus had expected. Now that the model is a few years old, Lexus took it upon itself to give its sporty little entry-level sedan a refresh.

There isn’t a whole lot that changed, but the headlight units take on a different shape, and the front fascia is sportier than ever. There are also new taillight units, new wheel designs, and even a couple new colors. On the inside, the infotainment display screen has received an update, and there are a few other refinements within the cabin. The IS’ safety equipment even got a little love with this refresh.

All of that sounds pretty good for a refresh, doesn’t it? It’s not the most elaborate refresh – the same engines carry over from before – but there is enough newness to keep the little sedan fresh until the next-generation model comes to life. But, the real question is: Will the refresh be enough to keep sales of Lexus’ entry-level sedan soaring as they have for the last three years? Only time will tell, but now that the refreshed IS has debuted at the Beijing Auto Show, let’s take a closer look at what Lexus did in hopes of maintaining the car’s overwhelming success.

Updated 04/25/2016: Lexus unveiled the revised IS at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Lexus IS.

  • 2017 Lexus IS
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    241
  • Torque @ RPM:
    258
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    143 mph
  • Price:
    38500 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    8.3/10

Exterior

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673927
2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673926
2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673922

For the most part, the overall appearance of the IS has remained the same, but there are some pretty interesting changes. Up front, the same Lexus grille remains, but it folds back a little higher than before, giving the front end more character. The grille also features horizontal louvers all the way to the bottom. The check-mark LED runners below the headlights now seem to be more stretched out, and the headlights themselves are a little more jagged than before. Down below, the corner vents are much more aggressive and larger than before. They are back by a black trim insert that gives the appearance of unlimited depth. Because of this design, the nose looks like it protrudes from the car a little farther than before. In other words, the front end isn’t anywhere near as flat as it once was.

Because of this design, the nose looks like it protrudes from the car a little farther than before.

To the sides, there are no structural changes to speak of. Considering the current generation has such a high approval rate, Lexus opted to leave the body lines and side styling alone. Even the mirrors and side skirts have carried over from last year’s model. To the rear, the Lexus IS has a lot of the same going on. The taillights have the same shape, but the internal layout has changed. The reverse lights are now on the lower edge of the decklid mounted lens, and the piping inside has a more dramatic layout. Down below, the same shark-fin-shaped reflectors are on each corner. The exhaust outlets are now rectangular, and the rear diffuser now has five fins spread between the exhaust outlets.

With the refresh comes two new exterior color schemes – Deep Blue Mica and Graphite Black Glass Flake. In addition, 10-spoke, 17-inch wheels are standard on the IS, but there are several new designs with bright machine finishes. All told, it’s not a bad refresher when you consider how lazy some manufacturers have been with their updates recently.

Interior

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Interior
- image 673917

On the inside, there are a few interesting changes to speak of. First off, the Moonstone and Ivory colors have been replaced by Chateau, which is a light shade of gray. As you can see from the image above, the door trim panels feature the same red leather as the seats. There is also red contrast stitching on the center console. A new feature for this year is the stitching on the overhang of the instrument cluster. The speedometer and tachometer have been refined and are no much cleaner. The car also received newly designed cup holders that now are now connected by an opening in the middle.

The overall design of the dash has remained the same, but that infotainment screen has been updated from a measly seven inches up to 10.3 inches

The overall design of the dash has remained the same, but that infotainment screen has been updated from a measly seven inches up to 10.3 inches – a huge improvement if you ask me. Furthermore, “Enter” buttons have been added to the sides of the remote touch interface, which should make using the system much easier than before. As you can see, the HVAC control system has been redesigned to sit farther back in the center stack and sports a “hairline” finish, giving the interior a much cleaner look.

Overall the interior hasn’t changed all that much, but it has changed enough for the purposes of a redesign. Just looking at the images here, the IS looks to be more comfortable, inviting, and more luxurious than ever. I’m especially a fan of the red, black, and gray color scheme shown off in these pictures.

Drivetrain

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673914

Since Lexus made some headway in drivetrain department for the 2016 model year, it comes as no surprise that the refreshed model will offer the same engine lineup. The IS 200T comes with the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder that delivers 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Moving up to the IS300 all-wheel drive will get you a 3.5-liter that delivers a greasy 255 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque.

In the range-topping IS350, the 3.5-liter is tuned to deliver a decent 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque.

In the range-topping IS350, the 3.5-liter is tuned to deliver a decent 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. On the lesser models, power is sent to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 300 AWD gets a six-speed automatic, and the IS350 gets an eight-speed direct shift automatic.

All told, the IS 200T should be able to hit the 60-mph sprint in 6.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 143 mph. The IS300 AWD can hit the same benchmark in 6.1 seconds with a top speed 131 mph. The IS350 has the same 131-mph top speed, but can hit 60 mph from a dead stop in 5.7 seconds. Not bad for an entry-level luxury sedan, right?

Safety

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673925

The same safety equipment carries over from the previous year. That means the IS comes with 10 SRS airbags, two-stage dual front airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, front and rear side airbags, and full-length curtain airbags. Furthermore, the IS now comes with Lexus Safety System Plus, which includes a pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beam lights, and radar cruise control.

Prices

Lexus has yet to divulge pricing details for the refreshed IS, but the current model starts out at $37,325 for the IS200T and climbs to $43,035 for the range-topping IS350 with all-wheel drive. Given the nature of this refresh, expect the prices to climb by maybe $1,000 to $1,500 at most for each trim level.

Competition

Audi A4

2016 - 2018 Audi A4 High Resolution Exterior
- image 635406
Audi A4

The Audi A4 offers about the same level of sportiness on the outside, and just as luxurious interior appointments. The A4 is offered in three different trims starting with the Premium, then the Premium Plus, and finally the Prestige. All trims come standard with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder that delivers 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. From a dead stop, the A4 can hit the 60 mph sprint in 6.1 seconds on the way to a top speed of 130 mph. Fuel economy is estimated to be 25 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined. As of the time of this writing, the Premium starts out at $37,300, while the Premium Plus starts out at $41,100, and the Prestige starts out at $45,900.

Read our full review on the Audi A4 here.

Mercedes C-Class

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class High Resolution Exterior
- image 536010

The C-Class is the default go-to for luxury and performance in a smaller package. It is offed in six different variants, including the base-model C300, the C300 4Matic, C350e Plug-in Hybrid, C450 AMG, AMG C63, and AMG C63 S. In base form, the C-Class offers 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The Hybrid uses the same engine along with an electric motor to deliver 275 horsepower and a whopping 442 pound-feet.

The C450 gets the venerable 3.0-liter V-6 that ignites your manhood to the tune of 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. The Bonkers AMG C63 and C63 S have a handcrafted 4.0-liter that offers 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of twist or an arousing 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet, respectively.

Pricing for the C-Class starts out at $38,950, with a $2,000 premium for the 4Matic. The hybrid commands $45,490, the C450 hits the wallet for $50,800, the C63 will set you back $65,250, and the range-topping C63 S will cost you $73,250 and possibly a divorce.

Read our full review on the Mercedes C-Class here.

Conclusion

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673916

Now that the Beijing Auto Show has kicked off and we’ve finally seen the refreshed IS in all its glory, it’s pretty clear that Lexus did a pretty decent job with this refresh. If you haven’t noticed, manufacturers have been getting pretty lazy with mid-cycle refreshes in recent years, and hopefully, the IS is an indication that the days of shoddy, lazy mid-cycle updates are gone. I am curious to see what Lexus does with the pricing point, though. Surely with all of the extra features the pricing will increase some, but hopefully not too much. At this point, Lexus better be hard at work developing the next generation. In a few years, the brand is going to have a lot of work to do to improve on what it already has here.

  • Leave it
    • Room to expand with higher trim levels
    • Strong competition

Press Release

A daring new styling direction, exciting performance and innovative technology defined the completely new Lexus IS that was introduced in 2013. Since then, sales of the luxury brand’s entry-level sedan have surpassed expectations, outselling the previous-generation model, which was very popular in its own right. At the Beijing Auto Show today, Lexus has taken the covers off the new IS, armed with a fresh new look and a number of important changes.

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673913

Because the original styling of the current IS has proved so popular, Lexus has kept the essence of car’s exterior appearance intact; however, the entire front fascia of the new model has undergone a transformation, highlighted by new headlamps, large air intakes in the front bumper and an evolution of Lexus’ spindle grille. The bumpers, with incorporated air intakes, flow dynamically from the fenders, giving the new front end a high level of aggressiveness. The new grille folds back at a higher point, changing its top and bottom proportions that enhance its sporty feel with a visually lower center of gravity, while blending effortlessly into the reshaped hood. The sleeker profile of the IS, together with the enhanced character line that runs down the side of the car, makes the new IS seem as if it’s in constant motion even when sitting still. The F SPORT’s grille features an exclusive 3-dimentional F-mesh pattern, with jet-black metallic coating that incorporates functional brake ducts. These brake ducts provide a sense of continuity with the side garnishes that enhance the vehicle’s aerodynamic performance. Adding to the IS’s dynamic flair are standard 10-spoke 17-in. wheels that boast new designs with bright machine finishes. Changes to the rear are highlighted by more pronounced “L”-shaped LED light guides that are now triple layered within the taillight housing and new rectangular chrome exhaust tips that accentuate the car’s sporting nature. Also, two new paint schemes—Deep Blue Mica and Graphite Black Glass Flake—have been added to the IS’s exterior color palate.

In keeping with the same theme as the exterior, thoughtful improvements have been incorporated into the new IS’s cabin. The first thing that’s sure to catch your eye is the multimedia display screen that has grown from 7 inches to 10.3 inches. The new high-resolution monitor offers a larger and clearer image of the various functions of Lexus’ innovative multimedia system. Also, “Enter” buttons have been added to the sides of the Remote Touch Interface (RTI) on the center console, making the system easier to use. On the center dash the audio and ventilation-control panel has been refined to fit completely within the knee bolsters, with a new hairline-finish surface that provides both a high-quality feel and improved appearance.

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673914

New stitching on top of the meter hood enhances the sporty feel of the IS cockpit, as do the refined speedometer and tachometer. For interior colors, Moonstone and Ivory have been replaced by Chateau, a new light shade that blends the elegance of Ivory with a more modern light-gray hue. Other changes to the new IS include new cup holders, a new larger leather-wrapped palm rest with stitching for the RTI and new markings on the in-dash analogue clock.

The new IS model lineup will remain unchanged with three engine offerings. The rear-wheel-drive IS 200t will be powered by the recently-added 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline-4 with intercooler, which comes mated to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine, first introduced on the NX crossover vehicle, features a number of innovative technologies including Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide (VVT-iW) that allows the engine to switch between Otto and Atkinson cycles by varying the intake-valve opening angles, and the D-4ST direct injection system. It combines a high pressure fuel system for injection directly into the cylinders with a low pressure system for injection into the ports. Power is rated at 180kW at 5,800rpm or torque 350Nm at 1,650 to 4,400rpm.

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
- image 673915

The new IS’s safety equipment has been upgraded with the Lexus Safety System +. It combines Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Radar Cruise Control.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: