2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance: New, upscale, worthy

James Raia

The automotive industry is always expanding with new niche markets unveiled within broader style segments. Welcome the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance. It’s a V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive small luxury sedan.

The new Lexus is a few cars in one. It’s ideal for buyers seeking an upscale comfortable and capable sport sedan.

The top-performing model in the IS lineup, the 500 F Sport features the same non-turbo V8 engine as its siblings, the LC 500 and the RC F coupes. It also has 472 horsepower, a power surge further bolstered in key areas. A sport-tuned adaptive suspension, Torsen limited-slip differential, larger brakes and 19-inch Enkei wheels fitted with performance tires are also part of the touted performance push.

2022 Lexus IS 500 Sport Performance is new and already a top rival to luxury sedan stalwarts.
The 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance is new and already a top rival to luxury sedan stalwarts.

The result: the new Lexus looks like its relatives but moves better. It accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds. It’s a commendable effort better than many larger luxury sedans. But it’s not quite as swift performance stalwarts like the Audi RS 5 (3.7 seconds) or the BMW M3 (4.1 seconds).

Available in Base, Premium and Launch Edition trims, the Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance is powered by a 5.0-liter engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It also features Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom drive modes for customizing the driving feel. Gas mileage averages are underwhelming, 17 miles per gallon in city driving, 25 mph.

Lexus vehicles are always chock-full of standard equipment. The base model IS 500 follows tradition, with an impressive variety of stuff, adaptive sport suspension a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel to simulated leather upholstery to front and rear parking sensors with automatic braking.

Safety also gets priority treatment via automatic emergency braking, lane departure mitigation, a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

The reviewed Performance Premium trim adds upgraded LED headlights, a 10.3-inch touchscreen display navigation system, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, a 360-degree camera system and a power rear sunshade.

The new Lexus luxury sedan has an an upscale interior.
The new Lexus luxury sedan has an an upscale interior.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and connected services including Wi-Fi access, and Amazon Alexa integrations are all in the mix. And so is the signature Lexis touchpad. It once was a slick new feature. Now it’s dated and cumbersome. The electric brake lever also needs a new location. It’s hidden in the lower right-hand corner position below the steering wheel.

Driving the new Lexus further defines the upscale carmaker’s status. The IS 500 offers a smooth, comfortable ride. The adaptive suspension provides the sport sedan’s maneuvering poise and its nimble personality adds to the fun.

Lexus also always gets interiors right. While not as lavish as some competitors, Lexus uses top quality materials. The front seats are supportive and comfortable and have a wide assortment of positions. Like many smaller sedans, rear seating while also quality-emphasized, provides adequate space only for petite passengers.

Here’s hoping Lexus one day soon discards its unattractive spindle grille, but it won’t be in 2022 models. It’s the only downside to the otherwise handsomeness throughout the carmaker’s lineup.

The IS 500 has quad exhaust tips and a spoiler. Neither is necessary but the equipment further accentuates the sedan’s sportiness. The engine’s growl will appeal to those who enjoy the sound of throat-clearing.

The Lexus offers the IS 500 F Sport with prices ranging from $56,500 (Base) to $67,400 (Launch) not including a destination charge of $1,075.

While competitors may be well-heeled and offer more flash, the newbie Lexus has debuted as a legitimate contender. It’s always to have more choices.

Article Last Updated: March 28, 2022.

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