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Lexus rolls out refreshed IS with small changes all around

Most of the updates are visual, although there are some new pieces of equipment hiding in there, too.

Pour one out for these awesome headlights, because we'll probably never see them in the US.


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, such as the refreshed 2017 Lexus IS. 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.

Lexus also upgraded the IS's Lexus Safety System+ suite of driver aids. It includes forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.

In terms of powertrains, the song remains the same. The base engine is a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 241 horsepower. You can also opt for one of two six-cylinder engines, with outputs of 255 or 306 hp.