2017 Lexus IS200t new car reviews

The Lexus IS200t takes the chassis from their popular IS350 sedan and swaps out the drivetrain for a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Our test car also came with the F Sport package, which largely includes visual upgrades to a more athletic look.

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Like its opposite number, the BMW 3 Series, the Lexus IS keeps rolling with the times. The IS200t should continue to appease its fanbase. It’s not an M3 fighter, but it’s still sporty enough for most people: deeply bolstered seats, big wheels and aggressive looks.

Oh, and the color. Our test car wore a color called Ultrasonic Blue. People stopped me to tell me how much they loved the color. That doesn’t happen often, but perhaps it’s because neutrals have become so common these days.

After having a run of cars featuring flat seats–I’m looking at you, Subaru Impreza Sport and Hyundai Ioniq–it was nice getting back to something with some real bolsters. And those bottom bolsters are big—like almost as radical as those in the Nismo Juke.

Power felt really good. It didn’t feel like a 2.0-liter engine—okay, that twin-scroll turbo really helps. The eight-speed auto delivered crisp, quick shifts.

Our car also had the F Sport package, a $3545 add-on that includes the sportier bumper and grille, 18-inch alloys, summer tires and sportier interior appointments. It’s basically what moves the IS200t closer to BMW territory.

Is this a track car? Nope. Is it something that the average person will think constitutes a track car? Yep.

Ed Higginbotham
PunchyWrench - Ed Higginbotham

If I were to describe this car in one statement, it would be: a five-star Civic Si experience.

Seriously, to me the IS200t delivered a similar feeling to the Honda Civic Si, but better. It has a little more power, a similar engine note—not exactly quiet, and saw slightly lower fuel economy. The interior was much more refined, and the exterior had a more upmarket appearance.

The F Sport package we had also added a bit of an aggressive look, though it didn't make the car any faster.

The navigation and infotainment system is very good and easy to navigate.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard
Director of Marketing & Digital Assets

The first thing I noticed about this car was the size: Small. No, it’s no E30, but did seem roughly as big as the new Civic. It’s cool you can get a luxury car in a parkable size. That paint color is awesome, too, and I like Lexus’ latest styling direction. And like the looks, the rest of the car stood up to Lexus standards: Ample power, great stereo, composed chassis, beautiful interior, etc. I only drove it for two miles, but those two miles left me wanting more. One complaint, though: No manual transmission. In a car that feels this small, I want to at least have the dream of shifting, even though dealers would never order (or sell) a new Lexus with a stick.

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conesare2seconds Dork
7/28/17 6:02 p.m.

Hmm. I see a few cues cribbed from the Quadrifoglio.

Vigo UltimaDork
7/30/17 12:20 a.m.

It manages to weigh 3600 lbs and it's slower than its competitors. I have never been a huge fan of the IS from the beginning because it racked up too many 'close, but no cigar' results in various categories (in my own estimation, anyway). I do really like the temp controls on the HVAC system.

irish44j UltimaDork
7/30/17 2:16 p.m.

I've always liked how the IS's looked (from the IS300 to current) overall, but other than the original IS300, can't say I've ever really even thought about them (and I do think about other cars in that class). Could be because Lexus didn't offer a manual trans with the IS350, I don't think?

IDK, Lexus has great cars, but as stated above, they just seem to come up a little short "almost, but..." every time I look at them. And that grille still looks dumb...

irish44j UltimaDork
7/30/17 2:16 p.m.

You should do a story about Mike Hooper's IS350 stage rally car, though. It will be at Black River Stages with us for its first rally (oh, and it's manual-transmision-swapped).

Now that's an exciting Lexus.

pointofdeparture GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/30/17 2:51 p.m.

My main issue with these isn't their lack of a manual as much as their sheer mass. 3798lbs is a lot for a car in this class, that's like 300lbs more than a heavily-optioned 3-series!

Vigo UltimaDork
7/30/17 9:13 p.m.

That's probably part of why the 3-series is massively quicker with the same power.

singleslammer GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/30/17 9:41 p.m.

I just couldn't get over how small the interior was on the one second gen I have been in. The front passenger seat area was tiny and I don't remember the back seat having much space. Considering it is technically in the same category as my 9-3 (right?) and I have gobs of space over the IS.

I just don't see the appeal when there are more roomy options and sportier options depending on your priorities.

Sorry Ed, it's not you...

Vigo UltimaDork
7/30/17 11:29 p.m.

I guess the IS is to luxury cars what v6 mustangs used to be to 'musclecars' (back before the v6 models had legit performance). The thing that everyone and their mom bought because to a layman it had 'the look' and the entry barriers were low.

I like a LOT of the Lexus model range from 1989 to current. The base model IS's just haven't done it for me so far.

yupididit GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/31/17 12:40 a.m.

There was once an IS F.

jddeadfuelpumps New Reader
6/1/18 10:06 a.m.

Guess I stick with 3 series cars. Thanks for the last coffin nail I needed to eliminate the thought of giving the IS a chance.


Slippery GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
6/1/18 10:10 a.m.
conesare2seconds said:

Hmm. I see a few cues cribbed from the Quadrifoglio.

Yeah, I am pretty sure the Lexus came out before the Giulia ...

Aspen Reader
6/1/18 10:19 a.m.

The IS is for people who want a 3 series, but don't want the repair headaches and can live without the last 10% of performance capability.  They also look good (YMMV).

My IS300 had about $2000 of repairs in the 14 years it was in my family.  My 328ix was 10 years newer but had $4,000 in repairs in 2 years.  The Lexus had a better stereo and nicer seats, the BMW handled better and was more responsive.  One small anecdote, but I have heard the same kind of story many times.

mtn MegaDork
6/1/18 12:19 p.m.

I thought the IS that I drove (2nd gen) was one of the best, most solid feeling vehicles I have ever driven. No, it wasn't better than any BMW driven in anger, it wasn't more luxurious than any Mercedes, it wasn't quick, etc. But it was just a wonderful driving car, a great place to spend time on your daily commute. 

Unfortunately, I didn't have near enough headroom unless I reclined the seat to a "baller" level. Otherwise I'd probably be in one instead of the TSX.

calteg Dork
6/1/18 4:45 p.m.
Aspen said:

The IS is for people who want a 3 series, but don't want the repair headaches and can live without the last 10% of performance capability.  They also look good (YMMV).



This. I've owned every generation of IS. In between an IS300, an IS250, IS350, and three IS-Fs, the only repair that wasn't maintenance related was a water pump on two of the IS-Fs. Combined cost, $240, plus roughly an hour and a half of my time for each install. I estimate nearly 300,000 miles between all six cars.


Had I attempted that with three generations of BMW's (three of which be M3's), I'd be typing this message from an underpass on an Apple IIe 

Carbon SuperDork
6/1/18 6:41 p.m.

It's easy to upgrade the suspension and get the handling we're looking for out of the old IS300s, but they're not the tanks that new ones are. Tough to install reliability. I wish new cars weren't so heavy. 

aircooled MegaDork
6/2/18 12:36 p.m.

Don’t they have WAY less depreciation then a 3 series?

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