2011 Lexus IS 250 First Impressions Review

Expert Reviews Lexus

By contributing editor David Colman


  • Revised airflow nets 0.28 cD and helps improve fuel economy
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Wheel and tire upgrade package transforms handling from ho-hum to almost exciting


  • Mo’ money for “F Sport” performance goodies
  • Rear seat space only comfortable for munchkins and smurfs

Just what is entry-level luxury, anyway? If you pony up $34,627 for a base model Lexus IS sedan, what do you get above and beyond having your basic transportation needs met? Since it’s based on the Toyota Camry platform, is an IS 250 worth the Lexus surcharge?

The answer is yes, and here are some of the reasons why it pays to buy this Lexus. To augment comfort and wear, a full leather interior is included as standard equipment on the IS. To silence unwanted noise, sheets of asphalt line the roof and floor pan. To energize your driving, a 6-speed, manual transmission puts this 2.5 liter, 204hp sedan on the same map as BMW’s 3 Series. To update the roadside presence of the IS, Lexus has fitted the 2011 version with projector bulb headlamps and LED brake, tail and license plate lights.

Stylists have so successfully revamped airflow around the sedan that its coefficient of drag now stands at a remarkably low 0.28. All these subtle touches may not become immediately apparent to you on first glance, but in the aggregate, they move the basic IS a couple of rungs higher on the luxo-ladder than before. If the previous version opened the portal to luxury living, the latest version whisks you through that door and plants you in the foyer. It’s not an LS460 by any means, but it’s a lot closer to prime cut Lexus than it used to be.


Standard wheel size fitment on the IS 250 is a 17 inch diameter, 10-spoke alloy carrying 225/45/17 front, and 245/45/17 rear, all-season rubber. If you want to bump the IS into BMW handling territory, be sure and opt for the bargain $830 set of “Liquid Graphite Finish” alloy wheels which transform the handling of the IS from prosaic to outstanding. These handsome wheels measure 8” x 18” front, and a hefty 8.5” x 18” rear. They carry 225/40/18 front and 255/40/18 rear Bridgestone RE 400 all-season tires, with shorter sidewalls than the 17 inch stock offerings. The upgraded wheels and tires are quicker to react to steering input, more stable in corners, and impart a welcome sporting demeanor to the IS 250.

Even better news awaits Lexus sports sedan pilots this coming year. Lexus will be offering a complete line of hi-performance goodies borrowed from the company’s ultra-quick IS-F street racer. The “F Sport Package” upgrades suspension and steering of the IS 250 to IS-F specification, and also includes the 18 inch wheel and tire upgrade. Additionally, the package brings you front and rear spoilers, F-spec heated sports seats, plus F-spec ID on the steering wheel, door sills and shift knob. Price for the F Sport Package is $2,440.


Until now, the base model IS 250 has offered a way for luxury acolytes to test the spa water without ordering the full treatment. Now that Lexus has decided to go after BMW by offering a bevy of sports options, the incentive to buy entry-level luxury has taken on new significance at Lexus.

By the Numbers

  • 2011 LEXUS IS 250
  • ENGINE: 2.5 liter V6, DOHC, 24 Valves with VVT-i
  • HORSEPOWER: 204 @ 6,400rpm
  • TORQUE: 185 lb-ft @ 4,800rpm
  • PRICE AS TESTED: $34,627


David Colman has been writing vehicle tests for 24 years. His work has been featured in AutoWeek, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Marin Independent Journal. In 1987, he helped start Excellence, The Magazine About Porsche, which he edited for many years. He has been an active participant in racing and Solo events since 1961. More car reviews written by Colman can be found at autoeditor.com

LexusOfficial website for Lexus cars, hybrids, and SUVs – www.lexus.com

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  • Peter says:


    Judging people who buy a Lexus Like you do is ignorant, in my country every Mercedes are driven by taxi drivers or snoop Dogg wannabe’s, bit putting every Mercedes driver in thar “box” would be A’s ignorant A’s what you just did.

    Personally I’d take a Lexus over a BMW, merc and Audi, why? They are pretty equal but i rarely see a Lexus, and the design of the other 3 is getting old and plain boring

  • agung says:

    nice information, i’m can back again for look more information..
    this is same with information at autocarsport.com
    good luck!!

  • Derek says:

    Calling the ES a “wormed over Camry” seems a bit harsh. Yes, the ES and Camry share the same platform, but that is where the similarities end. The ES has a much more refined ride, better sound dampening, and really no longer has a connection to the Camry that anyone can perceive with their five senses.

    The IS is may not match the divine affinity of a 335i, but it does have a lot of strong merits. I’ve been driving the IS 350 AWD for the past week and it is great all the way to 8/10 with regards to driving dynamics. Since not many people drive their car beyond 8/10, the IS fits a lot of people.

  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    IS has never been a sports sedan of merit as the ES has been a wormed over Camry.This is meant for wannabe’s which is what Lexus is a wannabe Mercedes .These cars troll tract neighborhoods full of foreclosed houses .Part of the none authentic world which came out of the hoard as you can 2000′s.A very wise friend once told me buy a few very good things instead of volume and buy them with cash.Lexus people buy big box crap and pretend it’s quality . it’s just a shiny cheap suit.Class does not always come from being rich it can come from taste.A diesel E class with a Purple Label suit and a serious a art collection that’s class.Loading up faux zebra skin furniture into your Lexus RX at TJ Maxx is not.

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