For the 2016 model year, Lexus introduced something new and different for its compact luxury-sport sedan: a turbocharged engine choice. In addition to two V6 models (IS 300 and IS 350), the current lineup includes a lower-priced IS 200t with a 241-horsepower four-cylinder. Making the IS 200t a turbo, offered only with rear-drive, is a notable shift in strategy for this model.
What's New for 2017
Previously optional, the Lexus Safety System is now standard on all IS models, including a pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, “intelligent” high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert remains optional. Appearance changes for the IS 200t include updates to the grille, bumpers, taillamps, and lighting. Cupholders have been modified, and a 10.3-inch multimedia screen replaces the 7-inch unit in the optional navigation system.
Choosing Your Lexus IS 200t
Initially developed for the Lexus NX crossover, the twin-scroll turbocharged 2-liter engine develops 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission conveys power to the rear wheels. Fuel economy is estimated at 22 mpg in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway (26 mpg combined). That compares to 19/28 mpg (22 combined) for the V6-powered IS 300.
Paddle shifters come with the eight-speed automatic, which incorporates G-force Artificial Intelligence that aims to “choose gears intuitively,” according to Lexus. Electronic power steering is derived from the larger Lexus GS sedan. The Drive Mode Select system has Eco, Normal, and Sport modes. Like the other IS models, the IS 200t can be fitted with an F Sport package.
Standard equipment is similar to the IS 300 and IS 350, except for the engine. For a starting price of $38,800 (destination charge included), the rear-drive IS 200t comes with 10 airbags, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, pushbutton start, and power front seats. LED headlights now are standard, along with LED daytime running lights. Also included are a sunroof, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The Display Audio system, with a 7-inch screen and 10-speaker sound, provides satellite and HD radio, traffic and weather updates, as well as Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity. A feature called “cache radio” can pause live radio broadcasts. Lexus Enform Safety Connect telematics is included.
Options include intuitive parking assist, a heated steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, and a backup camera. Premium, Premium Plus, Luxury, Navigation, and Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio packages are available. Lexus's navigation system features a Remote Touch Interface system (essentially, a point-and-click controller).
For $3,545 additional, the F Sport provides a specially tuned suspension system with Sport S and Sport S+ modes. Standard equipment includes split-five-spoke 18-inch wheels, a perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum pedals, a black headliner, twin projector LED headlights, a backup camera, and heated/ventilated front seats. Instruments were inspired by gauges used in the Lexus LFA supercar. Lexus claims that the F Sport’s bolder front and rear styling yields a “more sporting personality,” even though performance changes little.
Availability of the turbocharged engine gives IS buyers an appealing alternative to V6 power. As for the F Sport, bear in mind that except for the benefits of special suspension tuning, performance is no different from a regular IS 200t. Picking the F Sport is mainly a question of style.