The 2016 Lexus IS sedan comes in three distinct models -- the all-new IS 200t and IS 300, as well as the carryover IS 350. The IS 200t is available only with rear-wheel drive, while the IS 300 AWD comes only with all-wheel drive. The IS 350, meanwhile, can be ordered with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Exciting new powertrain options are packed into the new models. The IS 200t is powered by a 2.0L twin-scroll turbocharged and intercooled 4-cylinder that produces 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a Sport Direct-Shift 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The IS 300 AWD features a 3.5L V6 making 255 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. It is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters. Finally, the IS 350 benefits from a more potent 3.5L V6 that delivers 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. It is puts power to the rear wheels through a Sport Direct-Shift 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Both transmissions feature Sport, Normal and Eco modes, and will match engine revolutions during downshifts when set in Sport mode.
All engines feature variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) to help boost economy and efficiency. As a result, the IS 200t offers 33 mpg on the highway, while the IS 300 AWD returns an estimated 26 mpg on the highway, and the IS 350 is rated at 28 mpg.
Suspension across the lineup is fully independent, courtesy of double wishbones up front and a multilink setup in the rear. The IS 200t and IS 300 AWD ride on 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, while the IS 350 RWD sits on 18-inch alloys.
All IS sedans come nicely equipped with standard features like HID headlights, LED daytime lights, dual-zone climate control, a next-generation Remote Touch Interface and 4.2-inch color display, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power moonroof, HomeLink universal transceiver, a 60/40 split-fold rear seat, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and satellite radio. Additionally, each IS benefits from a suite of 10 airbags.
All IS sedans can also be given the F Sport treatment, which improves handling with unique 18-inch wheels, high-friction brakes and aggressive suspension tuning. Exterior and interior design elements are also upgraded, including special instrumentation and F Sport heated front seats. On IS 300 AWD and IS 350 F Sport models, the intake sound is more aggressive, which creates a more sporting engine note.
Other optional equipment on the IS lineup includes a navigation system, a backup monitor, power rear sunshade and intuitive park assist, which aids in parallel parking the IS. The Premium Package includes heated front seats, twin projector LED headlights, and a backup camera. The Premium Plus Package includes power tilt and telescopic steering and rain-sensing intermittent wipers, while the Luxury Package boasts a blind spot monitor, special leather and wood trim, headlamp washers, a heated steering wheel, parking assist and more.
Not every unveiling at the Beijing Auto Show is to remain forbidden fruit. Some cars from the show will eventually make it back to the US,. The changes are small, but add them all up and you've got a solid mid-lifecycle update.
Lexus claimed it left the aesthetics largely alone because it's proved popular with buyers. To that end, the company's reshaped its trademark love-it-or-leave-it grille, slightly revised the taillights and strengthened the appearance of the checkmark-shaped front turn signals. It's also revised the headlight shape, but Lexus is quick to note that the coolest looking headlights are "not US spec." Bummer.
Inside, the changes are even tougher to find. The most obvious adjustment is a bump in infotainment screen size, from 7 inches to 10.3. There's also a redesigned gauge cluster, new Enter buttons for the infotainment controller, as well as new cup holders and a larger palm rest. Otherwise, the interior is as it was before.
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