STATUS: Unchanged for 2020 - The smallest sedan in the Lexus lineup is positioned as a sporty compact, but in reality it's quite a bit tamer than its BMW and Audi competitors. Nevertheless, the IS's compact dimensions and rear- or optional all-wheel-drive architecture are ideal for carving the corners on curvy roads. The base IS 300 is rear-wheel-drive and comes with a 241-horsepower four-cylinder engine, while the all-wheel-drive IS 300 gets a 260-horsepower V-6. The IS 350 comes in rear- and all-wheel-drive and with a 311-horsepower V-6. The AWD system splits the torque evenly between the front and rear wheels in normal driving situations and can transfer up to 70 percent to the rear when front tire slip is detected. The rear-wheel-drive models get eight-speed automatic transmissions, and the all-wheel-drive versions come with six-speed automatics. The IS has Drive Mode Select throttle and transmission programming, with ECO, NORMAL and SPORT S settings for rear-wheel-drive models, plus a SNOW mode for AWD-equipped cars. The optional F Sport package adds a SPORT S+ setting that firms up the suspension for more spirited driving.
Base price (incl. destination): $39,600
Type: Compact sedan
Engines (h.p.): 2.0-liter I-4, turbocharged (241); 3.5-liter V-6 (260/311)
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic (AWD); eight-speed automatic (RWD)
Layout: Rear- /all-wheel-drive
Base mpg (city/highway/combined): 22/32/26
Base weight (lb.): 3,580