The Lexus IS has always been known for its solid reliability. However, Lexus’ popular entry-level luxury sedan’s improved performance will also brighten your day. While the base model is quite eye-catching, opting for the F Sport brings an especially racy look. A below-average MSRP gives car shoppers more reason to take a look at the 2021 Lexus IS. In this review, we’ll examine all of this car’s key attributes.
What’s New for 2021?
A few big updates were made to the 2021 Lexus IS. Updated exterior styling has boosted the sedan’s curb appeal. Meanwhile, technology lovers can take advantage of Lexus’ much-improved infotainment system. Drivers will also benefit from the car’s enhanced handling.
What Styles Does It Come?
The Lexus IS competes in the small luxury sedan class. Buyers can choose between a standard RWD system and an optional AWD package.
What Are the Available Trims?
Lexus offers the new IS in three primary models: IS 300 RWD, IS 300 AWD, and IS 350. Many buyers will like the less expensive IS 300 RWD. It comes loaded with Lexus’s new 8.0-inch touchscreen interface. Dual-zone automatic temperature control and power-adjustable front seats help promote a comfortable ride. There are some premium options available, including a stunning Mark Levinson sound system and a wide-screen infotainment display.
While the IS 300 AWD doesn’t look much different from the IS 300 RWD, it does feature an all-wheel drive system and a different powertrain. The same optional equipment is available.
The quickest and most powerful model in the lineup is the IS 350. Unlike the other models, it offers an optional F-Sport appearance package. Along with the racier styling cues come standard heated/ventilated sport seats. A Dynamic Handling is also exclusively available on the IS 350.
The IS’ Exterior Styling
The car’s sleek, compact body remains a top attraction. However, Lexus has elevated the 2021 model’s exterior appearance. Its new front fascia features thinner headlights and a restyled spindle grille. On the rear, bolder taillights help the refreshed IS to stand out.
Drivers who desire the aggressive F Sport package must step up to the IS 350 model. It definitely enables this car to strike a pose. A mesh grille and larger 19-inch alloy wheels are included.
The IS’ previous infotainment system received a great deal of criticism. A reworked interface arrives for 2021. It does away with last year’s mouse-like controller, which makes the system easier to operate. New virtual buttons further enhance the 8.0-inch touchscreen’s more user-friendly design. Lexus offers a wider 10.3-inch display as an option.
An updated Mark Levinson premium sound system is available as well. This stunning stereo system now packs an amazing 1,800 watts of power. A total of 17 speakers help optimize the sound of your music.
Lexus’ offers the new IS with three different engines. A turbo four-cylinder engine with 241 horsepower engine comes equipped on the IS 300 RWD. While the IS 300’s V6 engine produces 260 horsepower, it doesn’t develop as much torque. There’s not a major difference in performance between the IS 300 RWD and the IS 300 AWD. Clocked with a 0-60 mph time of 5.6 seconds, the 311-horsepower IS 350 will delight serious driving enthusiasts.
A major update for 2021 is the sedan’s tighter handling. Its tweaked chassis ensures less body roll around corners. An adaptive suspension comes with the IS 350’s optional Dynamic Handling package.
Fuel economy for the 2021 Lexus IS will vary depending upon powertrain choice. Rated to return 21 mpg town/31 mpg freeway, the IS 300 RWD will save drivers the most money. Efficiency for the IS 300 AWD is a much lower 18 mpg town/24 mpg freeway. Expect the powerful IS 350 to deliver up to 20 mpg town/28 mpg freeway. All versions of the sedan are designed to use premium gasoline.
Quality and Comfort
Drivers will have no complaints about the quality of the IS. This is an extremely well-built car, which is a key reason why resale value tends to be very high. Although leather upholstery is offered, the standard NuLuxe material is nice enough for most luxury car buyers. Seat comfort is among the best in the class. However, there’s not much room for taller adults in the sedan’s backseat.
In many ways, the 2021 Lexus IS is better than ever. Not only has the sedan’s driving dynamics improved, but it also receives a more compelling infotainment system. Before choosing a new entry-level luxury sedan, be sure to sample the latest IS.
Formula for Calculating Dealer Cost:
Total Dealer Cost - Rebate and Incentive + Taxes / Licensing Fees = True Dealer Cost. (You can get rebates and incentives here.)
Note: All Lexus IS MSRP, invoice and dealer cost dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.
A note about rebates: Most rebates are subtracted from the "on the road" figure. In most cases, you can have the rebate if you are arranging your own financing or you are paying cash. If you decide to use the manufacturer’s low interest financing, you do not usually get the rebate. Ask your dealer for details.