Lexus IS (2005 – 2013) Review

Lexus IS (2005 – 2013) At A Glance


+Very well built. Top quality interior. Lexus dealers are best in the business. Impressive refinement. All engines chain cam. IS250 probably the most reliable car you can buy.

-Poor change of manual gearbox is not suited to V6 petrol engine. IS250 thirsty. Ride and handling lag behind C-Class, 3 Series and A4. Rear seats don't fold.

Insurance Groups are between 25–29
On average it achieves 88% of the official MPG figure

For the 2nd generation Lexus IS, a chain cam 2.5 litre V6 petrol engine replaced belt cam 2.0 litre straight six. Manual or auto. Also offered with 2.2 litre chain cam diesel, manual only. Most of the diesels have excessively high gearing in 6th.


Extract from 2006 road test of Lexus IS250 manual

"I was supposed to get an IS250SE auto. But due to press-refleeting it turned out to be a brand new manual with just 36 miles on the clock. Both have six speeds, so plenty of ratios to make the most of the engine's top-end power. But changing them by hand was a chore I could have done without.

That said, it's a nice transmission. The lever has the heaviness of a big workshop lathe, together with the oily precision of a rifle bolt. So you can slot it from 6th to 3rd or 4th to 6th without any fear of hitting the wrong ratio. The only cog in the works was the ease with which the 1st to 2nd synchromesh could be beaten. Continuing with industrial analogies, the parking brake is like something out of a signal box, yet angled towards the driver and really nice to use (so no excuse for giving the guy behind red eye at the traffic lights).

Though actually slightly shorter and narrower than an Alfa 159 the IS250 has very solid, ‘big car' feel to it. Everything about it feels of the highest quality you can buy in its size and price range. Nicely chosen materials. Solid knobs and stalks. Rock hard ride.

That was partly due to the 225/40 R18 front and 255/40 R18 rear tyres that identified the ‘Sport' model I drove. Remember the old Peter Sellers movie ‘The Mouse That Roared'. Well, these were the tyres that roared. On anything but billiard smooth tarmac they turned what was otherwise an extremely refined car into quite a noisy one. They also affected its handling, seeming to make the car a bit twitchy on fast motorway curves.

Happily, as with the Alfa 159 and the BMW 3 Series, you don't have to have 18" wheels. Standard cars come on 205/55 R16s. SE and SE-Ls on 225/45 R17s. You can upgrade from 16" or 17" to 18", but not the other way round, which makes sense because 18" only come as standard on the ‘Sport' version."

Road Test Lexus IS250 manual

Real MPG average for a Lexus IS (2005 – 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


Real MPG

24–47 mpg

MPGs submitted


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.

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Ask Honest John

Is the Lexus IS 250 a future classic?

"Is the Lexus IS 250 a future classic? I own a 2008 IS 250 in very good condition and dealer maintained. "
Tricky one. There's not a huge amount of love for them, but they do have their own cult following in the UK - think Datsun. It could well make the cut, but realistically it's not going to happen anytime in the next ten years or so.
Answered by Keith Moody

Why is there pale blue smoke coming from my exhaust?

"I purchased a 2008 Lexus in August and after a few weeks I started getting pale blue smoke come from the exhaust for one minute every day half way through my journey. It disappears after one minute. The garage checked the head gasket and seals but said it looks like the turbocharger. A reconditioned one with fitting will cost around £1000. Is it worth doing?"
They think the turbo bearing oil seal is failing, but because you have not told us which Lexus or which engine we can't tell you much more. We guess it's an IS 220 diesel and that could also suffer cylinder head and/or head gasket problems.
Answered by Honest John

I bought a car that I was unaware had previously been rejected as faulty - and it's now faulty again. What do I do?

"I recently purchased a 2008 Lexus IS 250 from a dealer. It has a fault that has been diagnosed as faulty VVTI controllers (cam gears). The dealer is rejecting my claim that the car was faulty when he sold it to me - I disagree and even have been able to contact a previous owner, who can confirm the fault was there last year and he to rejected the car. He received a full refund from the franchised dealer, he purchased the car from. What do I do now?"
Yes, you can reject the car: The trouble is that even if you go to Small Claims and get a ruling in your favour, then pay extra for High Court Sheriff enforcement, a scumbag car dealer may claim to have no assets.
Answered by Honest John

Lexus IS250 or BMW 325i se?

"Hi. I want to change by Fiesta Ecoboost for a very different type of car. I want a 6 cylinder petrol with an auto box. I've narrowed this down to a 2010 Lexus IS250 or a BMW 325i SE of the same age. Both cars have different characters but I enjoy both. Reliability is the most important factor. MPG is not important as I only do 8000 miles per year. What are your thoughts on both cars and what do I need to look for?"
Very different cars. The Lexus IS250 auto is smoother. It was one of the most reliable cars you could buy, but early IS250s (2005/2006) are starting to need a few expensive repairs like front exhaust systems and multifunction touch screens. Long list of problems with E90 3-Series. See the entries in
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Lexus IS (2005 – 2013) cost?