Lexus IS

The 2017 Lexus IS sedan comes in three distinct models -- the IS 200t, the IS 300 and the more powerful 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.

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.

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Editors' First Take

"Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance" might not roll off the tongue quite as nicely as "Lexus IS F," but there's a lot to be said for truth in advertising. Despite a number of similarities in design and execution, the new IS 500 is not a direct successor to the beloved IS F sold from 2007 to 2014. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on your priorities.

Like the IS F, the new IS 500 F Sport Performance is the result of Lexus shoehorning its 5.0-liter V8 under the hood of its compact IS sedan. This engine is indeed the same 2UR-GSE V8 from the original IS F, as well as the subsequent GS F sedan and RC F coupe. In this application, the engine is tuned to produce 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque, sending that power exclusively to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The V8's behavior is very familiar. Peak horsepower and torque arrive at 7,100 rpm and 4,800 rpm, respectively, meaning you really have to dig into the throttle to keep this engine on boil. And you'll know when you're in the heart of the powerband because the V8's aural quality changes drastically. Send that tachometer needle up above 3,500 rpm and that big 5.0-liter lets you know it's ready to party. Launching the IS 500 from a stop, 60 mph should arrive in 4.4 seconds.

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