Specifications of Lexus IS IV (XE40) 300 V6 (260 HP) AWD Automatic
General characteristics of Lexus IS IV (XE40) 300 V6 (260 HP) AWD Automatic
The latest Lexus IS could never be described as a conservative car, and the latest facelift adds even more character to this compact luxury sedan. In front, there are new slim bi-LED headlights with daytime running lamps that flank an even larger spindle grille with a three-dimensional, polyhedral pattern. All versions have rain-sensing windshield wipers and LED taillamps, with a blade-style rear light bar that spans the width of the body. On the base vehicle, there are 18-inch alloy wheels, while the F Sport derivatives have 19-inch alloys with a dark metallic finish. An optional F Sport Dynamic Handling Package swaps the standard 19-inchers for forged matte black BBS staggered wheels. Premium triple-beam LED headlights are available, as is a carbon fiber rear spoiler on the F Sports.
The latest Lexus IS has grown by over an inch in length compared with the model it replaces, and it's wider as well. Dimensions include a length of 185.4 inches, a width of 72.4 inches, a height of 56.5 inches (56.7 inches on the AWD versions), and a 110.2-inch wheelbase. The base variant has a curb weight of 3,715 pounds, while the 350 F Sport in AWD guise is the heaviest at 3,880 lbs.
The base model Lexus IS is offered in a choice of seven colors. Those that won't add anything to the final bill are Atomic Silver, Caviar, Matador Red Mica, and Grecian Water. For $425 extra, Eminent White Pearl, Iridium, and Cloudburst Gray are availed. The F Sport versions deviate by dropping Eminent White Pearl and Matador Red Mica, but this trim does add Ultra White, Infrared ($595), and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 ($595). The Infrared hue is perhaps the most striking exterior shade available of all, as it is shared with the flagship LC coupe.
The 2021 Lexus IS can't compete with its German rivals in terms of pure acceleration, no matter how much you resort to driving with a firmly planted right foot. For example, the base IS 300's turbocharged four-cylinder manages 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, directing power to the rear wheels, but it takes 6.9 seconds to complete the 0 to 60 mph run. By comparison, the base BMW 330i needs only 5.3 seconds to do the same. Even the quickest model in the Lexus lineup, the IS 350 F Sport in RWD guise - which is what we had on our test drive - takes a sluggish 5.6 seconds to hit 60 mph and has the same 143-mph top speed as other models in the range. Curiously, with AWD, this model takes 5.7 seconds to reach 60. Based on our Lexus IS review, it's evident that the absence of forced induction on the top end means that the IS simply can't match the performance of its rivals in the US market. The BMW M340i xDrive with a 382 hp turbocharged inline-six can reach 60 mph in a far more impressive 4.1 seconds.
Starting off the range is the IS 300 which is RWD and uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine with 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, allied to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Confusingly, the similarly named IS 300 with AWD trades the four-pot for a 3.5-liter V6 with 260 hp and 236 lb-ft, along with a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Both F Sport versions use a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 with 311 hp and 280 lb-ft; once again, the RWD version uses an eight-speeder with paddle shifters and the AWD variant reverts to a six-speed auto.
Even though the four-cylinder engine now features adaptive transmission control for improved responsiveness, it doesn't produce more power than last year's model, so it remains an average performer. To its credit, the more powerful V6 endows the IS with a decent turn of speed and it feels much more enjoyable than the base four-pot, but it still lacks the grunt of its rivals, especially in the low RPM range. We've never sampled the IS with the six-speed transmission and AWD, but the eight-speed fairs decently when you treat it like an automatic and leave it to its own devices. When you try to coax it to shift faster using the paddles, it can often resist your commands, only shifting when it feels ready and letting the engine soar into the rev limiter.
The most efficient Lexus IS is, unsurprisingly, the IS 300 RWD with its four-cylinder engine. This model returns 21/31/25 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. However, both the BMW 330i (26/26/30 mpg) and the base Audi A4 (25/34/28 mpg) are markedly thriftier. The IS 350 RWD manages 20/28/23 mpg, while the least fuel-efficient models are the IS 300 AWD and the IS 350 AWD, both of which return an identical 19/26/22 mpg. Every Lexus IS has a 17.4-gallon gas tank, which means that a maximum mixed driving range of 435 miles will be possible.
In the spectrum of compact luxury sports sedans, the IS has always ranked on the smaller side. It offers seating for five people, though the person sitting in the middle rear seat won't be thankful for the privilege. The rear seats offer only 32.2 inches of rear legroom, which trails rivals like the 3 Series and C-Class, each with 35.2 inches. Headroom is at least generous and, up front, the bolstered seats in the F Sport do a great job hugging you in place without being uncomfortable; though you may want to try for yourself before taking our word for it.
Even at its base price, the Lexus IS is equipped with dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button ignition, an illuminated entry system, and eight-way power-adjustable front seats. More impressive is the array of safety gear that includes a backup camera with dynamic gridlines, rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dynamic radar cruise control, road sign assist, intelligent high beams, and lane departure warning. Moving up to the F Sport derivatives adds a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated/cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a rather gimmicky G-force display. These versions also have sportily styled instrumentation. On the options list are items like a power moonroof, intuitive parking assistance, and a surround-view monitor. Another reminder of the fact that this is fundamentally an older sedan is the absence of wireless device charging.