Review: Lexus IS (2013)

Rating:

Sharp and modern styling. Well built and upmarket cabin. Low emission on hybrid model.

Ride quality much better on smaller wheels. Not as good to drive as a BMW 3 Series.

Recently Added To This Review

18 October 2018

Report from a reader that there is a service requirement to change the rear differential fluid in a Lexus IS300h every 20k miles and to change the CVT fluid every 40k miles. Yet his Lexus dealer told... Read more

13 July 2018

Problems reported with hybrid battery system (or 12v battery) of 2014 Lexus IS300h, biught in March 2018 with 41,000 miles. After driving 800 miles to a desination in Spain, owner stopped for an hour... Read more

20 December 2016 Improvements announced to Lexus IS range for 2017

Changes to the IS’s exterior styling focus on the car’s frontal appearance with new headlamps, larger and deeper air intakes integrated in the bumper and a further evolution of the signature... Read more

Lexus IS (2013): At A Glance

With a petrol-only engine range, the Lexus IS is only going to be an outside choice for many company car buyers – but with an easy-to-drive character, distinctive styling and a comfortable, high-tech interior, there are plenty of reasons to give it a look. And being a Lexus you're guaranteed impeccable build quality and reliability.

The entry point into the range is the IS 250, but with emissions of almost 200g/km and unremarkable fuel economy it’s not going to be on the radar of many executive car buyers. Instead, it's the IS 300h that makes more sense.

This hybrid version manages low emissions of 99g/km and because it runs on petrol rather than diesel, it falls into a low Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) band, which makes it more affordable to run for company car drivers than a comparable diesel.

From the driver’s seat the IS is impressive. Build quality is very good, but while the choice of materials is excellent it’s not quite as neat or as pristinely trimmed as an Audi. That said, the IS is a very refined, comfortable and well made car. The design is interesting though with a much more modern and upmarket design than the previous IS. Thankfully there are no obvious Toyota switches or buttons either.

It isn’t, however, the most dynamic vehicle in its class – if you’re a keen driver then you might want to look at the BMW 3 Series. However the IS is comfortable on most roads and has a relaxed, effortless way of covering ground, albeit in a manner that isn’t particularly engaging.

All things considered, there is a lot to like about the IS, particularly the 300h. Fuel economy and emissions are tremendously impressive and the styling and interior give a real feel-good factor. Add to that a strong reputation for dealer service and reliability and the Lexus makes a strong case for itself.

Road Test Lexus IS250 and IS300h

Lexus IS (2013): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4665–4680 mm
Width 2027 mm
Height 1430 mm
Wheelbase 2800 mm

Full specifications

The cabin of the Lexus is very impressive – the layout is high-tech, with modern, clear instruments and a very nearly laid out centre stack. Material quality is very good and everything is nicely finished and feels built to last. It’s not quite as precise or inch-perfect as an Audi interior, but it’s still very impressive indeed.

Sitting down and starting the ignition or buckling your belt starts the standard Lexus party trick – the steering wheel moves electrically to greet you and your seat moves you forward, injecting a little theatre into each journey. It’s one of several neat touches that make the IS stand out from rivals.

Another is the infotainment system, which is controlled by a sort of computer mouse. It’s unique, standing out from the usual rotary dials and it works really well once you’re acquainted with it. The system itself, along with all the on board technology and gadgetry, is very user friendly and easy to get to grips with.

Space impresses, too. The front row passenger gets plenty of legroom and a very comfortable seat while in the back row you’ll easily fit two adults. The middle seat is better suited to children, because of the high transmission tunnel, but otherwise there’s not much to pick fault with.

That said, the boot isn’t the very biggest going. In its defence it’s on par with the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4, but only if you pick the IS 250 - the IS 300h loses 30 litres because of the battery pack for the hybrid. The rear seats fold down to help with longer items, but this is a saloon car rather than a hatchback and bulky items like furniture simply won’t fit.

Equipment levels from launch:

SE equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres, drive mode select (Normal, Eco & Sport – additional EV mode on IS 300h), cruise control smart entry and start system, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, power-fold heated mirrors, HID headlamps with dusk sensing function, eight airbags, 60/40 split rear seats (IS 250 only), Lexus display audio with DAB and Bluetooth connectivity plus a temporary spare wheel (tyrerepair kit on IS 300h).

Luxury adds 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres, Lexus Park Assist, rain-sensing wipers and 60/40 split rear seats (both IS 250 & IS 300h).

F Sport comes 18-inch 10 spoke F Sport alloy wheels with 225/40 R18 fronts and 225/35 R18 rears, sport suspension with lateral damping system, F Sport mesh grille, LFA-style instrument meters, F Sport aluminium sports pedals plus F Sport leather trim on steering wheel and gear lever.

Premier has 18-inch 5 spoke alloy wheels with 225/40 R18 fronts and 225/35 R18 rears, automatically folding wing mirrors, 8-way power-assisted leather seats including heating and ventilation functions, electrically operated steering column, 7-inch HDD full map satellite navigation system with dynamic route guidance, rear view camera and connected services plus a Mark Levinson sound system with 15 speakers and 5.1 channel surround sound.

Child seats that fit a Lexus IS (2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Lexus IS (2013) like to drive?

Lexus offers two engine variants and both are petrols - unlike the previous IS there is no diesel option. The entry model is the IS 250, which uses a 207PS 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine. It comes with a six-speed torque convertor automatic transmission, but it’s not exactly outstanding when it comes to CO2 emissions, which are 199g/km. That will knock it off most company car buyer’s lists.

The 223PS IS 300h, on the other hand, is a far better company car prospect, even if it is more expensive. Its 8.3 second 0-62mph sprint time isn’t far short of the 8.1 second figure for the IS 250 – and you get CO2 emissions of as low as 99g/km if you go for lower trim levels. That places it in a free VED band and means a very low Benefit in Kind (BIK) rate for company car drivers.

It’s also very efficient. On paper the entry level SE achieves official economy of 65.7mpg. That’s better than many diesel rivals, but with the added advantage of cheaper costs at the pumps and lower NOX and particulate emissions, if you’re particularly conscious about the environment.

The IS 300h uses a CVT automatic transmission, but it’s exceptionally smooth and very refined unless you’re aggressive with your right foot, making for effortless acceleration and a very easy-to-drive nature. The hybrid system is seamless – it’s difficult to tell whether the petrol engine is running at all and in traffic the IS 300h will often run as a pure EV.

Lexus has worked on the suspension and steering of this generation of IS to make it more involving to drive, but it’s not a car that really feels as if it wants to be thrown around at breakneck speed. There is a lot of grip, so you’re not likely to come unstuck even if you do drive hard, but the impression is of a car that is capable of hustling along at a pace, but only if it really needs to. 

This has a negative effect on the ride quality – it’s not exactly fantastic even on smaller 17-inch wheels. That said, it’s far from uncomfortable and over most road surfaces everything remains serene. But, when the road surface is heavily rippled or broken, the ride does get a little busy and that's exacerbated if you got for the larger wheel options. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
200t 39 mpg - 167 g/km
250 31–33 mpg 8.1 s 199–213 g/km
300h 60–67 mpg 8.3–8.4 s 97–109 g/km

Real MPG average for a Lexus IS (2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

77%

Real MPG

28–60 mpg

MPGs submitted

279

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Lexus IS (2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the best used hybrid for around £18,000?

I'm looking for a used hybrid car for around £18,000. Which do you recommend for all-round performance, style, comfort and best value?
The Hyundai Ioniq is an excellent choice, and your budget will get you a fairly recent example. It represents very good value for money and is one of the best hybrid cars on the market. Also, consider a Kia Niro if you'd prefer a crossover, or a Lexus IS 300 if you want something more premium.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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