2015 Lexus IS 250: Comfort, control, cool

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Following its extensive redesign last year, the 2015 Lexus IS 250 includes a few technology interface updates. But the compact entry-level luxury sedan largely remains a twin of its one-year older sibling.

Powered by a 2.5-liter, 24-valve V6 delivering 204 horsepower, the 2015 Lexus IS 250 is offered only with a six-speed automatic transmission, but there’s a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel-drive.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

While not the fastest nor the most economical, Lexus always does interiors and exteriors right. The IS 250 may be the entry level for the luxury line, but it’s made with top-line materials. Leather, wood and metallic accents are used liberally. And even when plastic is used, it works.

The comfort of the vehicle (rear seat tightness in previous years’ models was fixed in 2014) transitions well into how the Lexus IS 250 feels on the road. The Lexus is substantially secure in both city and highway driving. It’s the carmaker’s signature: Power, confident maneuvering, superior comfort and strong, steady (but not swift) acceleration.

While classified as a compact sedan, the Lexus IS 250 cornered with precision of a larger car. I looked forward to sweeping turns onto the freeway and powering along winding country roads. The Lexus IS 250 has some engine noise at freeway speeds, but it’s not troublesome.

With the 2014 edition, Lexus upgraded its standard features list. It’s the same list for the 2015: HID headlamps, L-shaped LED daytime running lights, Drive Mode Select, paddle shifters, a dual zone climate control system, a next-generation Remote Touch Interface, Display Audio, a color 4.2 inch TFT multi-information display and an industry-high 10 airbags.

Standard are 17-inch wheels, but my weekly driver featured 18-inch aluminum wheels, a $985 extra. Also extra was the Lexus navigation system option ($1,855), which also included a suite of other technology offerings, like a back-up camera, parking assist, etc.

With a few other added charges — liquid graphite finish ($935), intuitive parking assist ($500), trunk mat ($105) and destination charge ($925), the out-the-door price of the Lexus IS 250 approached $41,000. That’s not a deal breaker, but the $40,000 price plateau brings into sharper focus a lot of keen competition, BMW to Cadillac to Volvo.

Likes:

Athletic and sleek appearance with sports car overtones.

Superior overall comfort.

Spacious rear seat room for compact luxury class.

Superior materials quality.

Handsome, race car design in a compact luxury sedan? Cool.

Dislikes:

Mediocre gas mileage.

More than $40,000 price could be the deal breaker.

Facts & Figures, 2015 Lexus IS 250

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.5 seconds.
Airbags: (10)
Fuel economy: 21 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway), 24 mpg (combined) six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 240.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $36,550.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.lexus.com.
Price As Tested: $40,870.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion, 8 years/70,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Lexus completely redesigned the IS for the previous model year, giving its compact sport sedan a rich-looking cabin, a more finely tuned suspension and, most visibly, a bolder look. The previous iteration’s engines carry over, meaning that power and mileage are middling, but its excellence in most other areas means the latest IS is well worth a look.” — Left Lane News.

“The 2015 Lexus IS 250 offers daring styling, excellent build quality and benchmark steering feel, but it trails most rivals in performance and fuel efficiency.” — Edmunds.

“If you’re looking for an entry-level luxury sedan, but want something with dynamically out-there styling to back up its driving characteristics, you can’t do better than the 2015 Lexus IS sedan.” — Kelley Blue Book.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“If you’re obsessed with a car being the fastest or having the best gas mileage in it class, don’t buy the 2015 Lexus IS 250. If you’re more interested in design, quality materials, an exhaustive list of standard features and safety, this is a fine choice.”

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