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The compact sport sedan segment is overflowing with strong competitors, and in this saturated market, it is going to be easy to overlook the modest 2019 Lexus IS. Those who pass over the IS will be missing out on its refined ride quality and delightfully muted cabin. However, the IS does have some issues, including less-than-exciting engine power and handling that does not perform well on rugged pavement. Overall, the new Lexus IS proves to be a mixed bag, which just is not enough to stand out in this crowded segment.
What's New for 2019?
As a part of the third generation of the IS, the 2019 Lexus IS does not have a ton of drastic changes from the previous year's line-up. However, it is worth mentioning the fact that voice commands via Amazon's Alexa system are now available. Also, the rear-wheel drive models now have upgraded software that has given the engine a better response. There are also now triple-beam headlights that come as an optional feature. Other than that, expect to see a rehashing of the 2018 line-up.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2019 Lexus IS – The Pros
1. A Smooth Ride Quality
The Lexus IS has, for quite some time, been known for its smooth ride quality. The 2019 Lexus IS is no exception to this rule. The ride quality on the IS is smooth since body control is consistently stable. The suspension does not feel too soft, and it does an excellent job of absorbing bumps and jitters in the road. Overall, drivers should find that the Lexus IS has a ride quality that embraces the luxury sedan segment's emphasis on comfort.
2. The Hushed Cabin
Not only is the Lexus IS's ride quality impeccably refined, but the cabin remains nice and quiet regardless of how fast the vehicle is going or what kind of road surface it is being driven over. The engine is barely audible inside of the cabin; all that you might hear is a gentle purring noise. Wind and road noises are essentially eliminated as well. This level of soundproofing makes driving the IS exponentially safer and more enjoyable.
3. Packed With Standard Safety Features
Standard safety features come in droves on the 2019 Lexus IS. Some of the features that you can get on the 300 model include automatic high-beams, a rear-view camera, a forward collision warning system with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and a lane departure warning and mitigation system. For the price you will end up paying for this model, getting all of these standard driver aids makes it well worth the cost.
4. The 8-speed Automatic Transmission
If you decide to step up to the Lexus IS 350, you will get a stellar powertrain pairing that consists of a 3.5-L V6 engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Since the V6 has swift reactions to all inputs and evenly distribute power to the wheels, the transmission is able to function smoothly as well. There is no gear-searching to speak of, which creates a pleasant driving performance from the powertrain.
5. High-quality Interior Materials
The cabin of the 2019 Lexus IS is nothing short of upscale. There are plenty of soft-touch surfaces to be found, and the well-bolstered leather upholstery seats feature quality stitching. The panels have no noticeable gaps, which speaks highly of the craftsmanship that has gone into making the IS. Additionally, the door seals seem solid, which helps to keep noise from filtering into the cabin.
6. Many Infotainment Features For the Price
As is the case with the standard driver aids, the Lexus IS is loaded to the brim with infotainment features. Included in the mix are a 7-inch touchscreen display, an auxiliary audio input, two USB ports, and an impressive 10-speaker sound system that effortlessly and evenly pumps music throughout the cabin. For the price tag on the 300, this makes for quite the bargain compared to a lot of the IS's competitors.
7. The F Sport Package
One of the most exciting additions that can be made to the 2019 Lincoln IS is the F Sport package. It can be equipped on the IS of your choice. It comes with the F Sport-tuned suspension, bolstered sports seating, a unique mesh grille, and high-friction brake pads which have been crafted for better fade resistance and responsiveness to the driver's command.
8. A Stylish Exterior
It is easy to overlook some luxury sedans due to their outward appearances, but the Lexus IS happens to be rather eye-catching. Although its Lexus logo is placed a bit awkwardly on the front of the grille, the front fascia itself has a unique design that sets it apart from its competitors. The headlights make the vehicle look expensive and high-tech, and the lack of curves on the sides of the vehicle draws the eyes forward and to the wheels.
9. The Four Drivetrain Modes
Drivers can select between four different drivetrain modes on the 2019 Lexus IS. Depending on your preference, you can opt for the energy-saving Eco Mode, the default Comfort Mode (which helps garner a good fuel economy), the Sport Mode (for navigating winding roadways), and the Sport+ Mode (which forces the transmission to stay in the lowest gear). Each one of these drivetrain modes improves upon the abilities of the IS's powertrain and can enhance the driving experience.
10. The Climate Control System
The Lexus IS has one of the better climate control systems in its class. The neatest part about it is that there are touch sliders that allow you to adjust the temperature to exactly how you want it. This feature makes the system that much easier to use. Also, the climate control system does a superb job of evenly distributing air flow throughout the cabin, and there are optional ventilated and heated seats that can make riding in the IS all the more cozy during extreme weather.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2019 Lexus IS – The Cons
1. The Remote Touch Infotainment System
Unfortunately, one of the biggest drawbacks to driving the 2019 Lexus IS is that the Remote Touch infotainment system has some serious flaws that could annoy and frustrate some drivers. The system lacks overall refinement and is not the most user-friendly. There is no comparability with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which is rather perplexing since these are two common smartphone app integration features found on even economy-priced vehicles. There is also a controller that functions kind of like a computer mouse, and it is far from simple to use. Lexus is going to have to put more effort into fine-tuning their infotainment system if they want to keep up with the competition.
2. Sub-par Handling
Handling on a luxury SUV like the new Lexus IS should be stellar in all situations, but, sadly, the IS is in need of some refinement in this area of the drive performance. While the handling is able to stay crisp and composed along most road surfaces, it struggles with getting way too busy on broken and rugged pavement. This is likely due to the wheelbase being as short as it is, which is something that Lexus should consider revising if it wants to achieve handling perfection and be a stronger competitor.
3. An Inefficient V6 Engine on the All-wheel Drive 300
While the 3.5-L V6 engine that you get on the 2019 Lexus IS 350 performs just fine, the V6 that gets slapped onto the 300 model with all-wheel drive just is not that efficient. This 3.5-L V6 is rated for 260 hp, but its pairing with a 6-speed automatic transmission does not make much sense. More engine revving is mandatory in order to generate more power to send to all of the wheels. In the end, the vehicle just comes off as feeling underwhelming and inefficient. If you are going to go with a V6, get it on the 350 instead.
4. A Small Cabin Throughout
Some vehicles in this class have small rear seats, but the Lexus IS is just cramped throughout the entire cabin. Even the armrests up front can make average-sized adults feel boxed in. Also, the center console feels too wide for comfort in such a small cabin. In the rear, there is very little in the way of leg space, and the middle seat does not offer a lot of head room. Overall, the vehicle feels cramped, and fitting five adults into the IS will not make for comfort during long car rides.
How it stacks up to the competition:
2019 Lexus IS vs. 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
One of the biggest contenders against the 2019 Lexus IS is the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. With a chic restyled grille, more aerodynamic wheels equipped, and a new bevvy of standard safety features, the C-Class is poised to be a top seller for the model year. However, the standard suspension on the C-Class might feel a bit too stiff for some drivers.
2019 Lexus IS vs. 2019 Audi A4
Another vehicle to look out for this year is the 2019 Audi A4. The A4 has received a new grille and bumper design that lend to a sportier look for the front fascia. The interior is still just as comfortable as ever. On the downside, the manual transmission has been dropped from the American line-up, which will likely disappoint some Audi fans.
Overall, the 2019 Lexus IS sits in the middle of the pack in a segment full of high-tech sedans. While its lengthy list of standard features and its impressive ride quality make the IS enjoyable, that delight is detracted from by the small cabin size, handling issues, and clunky infotainment system.
• Why buy a 2018 Lexus IS? w/ pros vs cons