Lexus did well by the base version of its IS luxury sedan for 2016, replacing the previous IS250’s small-displacement V-6 with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder cribbed from the NX200t crossover. It was an effective transplant—one that brought the junior IS closer to parity with lower trims of the Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Cadillac ATS, and Mercedes-Benz C-class—but it only went so far. While the IS lineup in general is a bit handsomer and more feature laden for 2017, the boosted-four-pot IS200t—now also known as the IS Turbo—is still outclassed by lighter, quicker competitors.
You’ll be forgiven for confusing our 2017 IS200t F Sport test car with the 2016 version we reviewed previously. The two even share the same 18-inch F Sport wheels and wear the same Redline Red paint. But look closer and you can spot where the new car went under the knife, its black-mesh spindle grille slightly more agape and its revised LED headlights a bit squintier. Larger air intakes flank the grille and flare out more prominently, while new LED taillights and rectangular exhaust outlets nicely accent the rear.
Lexus now includes collision-mitigation and lane-departure-warning systems, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beams as standard on all IS models (a bundle it refers to as its Lexus Safety System+). Besides that new gear, additional updates for 2017 are limited to the interior. There’s a new cupholder layout, and the designers have futzed with a few of the dashboard and steering-wheel buttons, the analog clock, and some trim around the instrument binnacle, but most people will strain to see much change. Opting for navigation in the infotainment system also includes a higher-resolution 10.3-inch screen in place of the standard 7.0-inch unit, both of which are still clumsily operated via a mouselike controller on the console (the Remote Touch Interface, or RTI). Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Alex Conley