Lexus IS is a relatively minor player in the Lexus range of upmarket cars. It can be an
excellent used car buy, particularly if it has been maintained by the book and driven
sensibly – many are.
Quite a few used ones are sold by Lexus dealers which may make them more expensive,
but it’s usually worth any added cost as the dealers will pick and choose which ones they
keep, and which ones they move onto other car yards.
Having been relatively sedate in their shape for many years Lexus launched the third
generation of its IS sedan range in July, 2013 and went way out in styling. The Lexus IS
was designed from the start to have sporty, balanced dynamics and the new shape
As well as the upgrades in styling, all models had the option of the F Sport package with
an adaptive suspension system. They are well worth hunting down if you like to pedal your
The Lexus IS got a major makeover in September, 2020. Its body is 30mm wider thanks to
bolder wheel arch flares. The front and rear tracks are 45mm and 50mm wider
respectively. It also received a new grille, larger wheels and a technology update.
The bonnet is more sharply raked towards its leading edge and the slimmer headlamps
are positioned 43mm lower. The new rear roofline is 15mm lower and the boot-line is
These changes combined to give the MY21 IS a much squatter and more muscular
appearance than before.
Not many are on the used market yet, but it’s worth looking out for them as they are
significantly better than their predecessors.
The quality of materials and workmanship makes all Lexus models a delight in which to
Lexus Remote Touch controller (joystick) on the centre console looks after audio, climate
control and satellite navigation. Lexus has an excellent Mark Levinson audio system in its
upscale vehicles. For example, the IS Sports Luxury has no fewer than 15 speakers
carefully placed around the cabin for optimum sound reproduction.
Interior space is good for a rear-drive car, but this Lexus has less room than a front-wheel-
drive of this size. In its earlier generations it’s possibly best to regard it as being a two-
plus-two rather than a four-seater if you’re intending to transport adults. Try the back seat
for size if adults will be frequently using it. IS models being covered here are better for
interior space than the first ones, but check for yourself to be sure.
The boot is a surprisingly good size. Any Japanese car maker who doesn’t provide space
for golf clubs is likely to suffer severely in sales. However, the sporty shape of the rear
makes for a relatively slim boot opening and a high loading lip.
The rear seat backs fold almost flat to provide room for longer objects.
In most cases the model number of the Lexus engines refer to their capacity, 200 is a 2.0-
litre and so on. The Lexus IS Line is available as the IS 200t with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol
engine, the IS 350 has a 3.5-litre V6 engine.
The 300h petrol-electric hybrid. has a four-cylinder petrol 2.5-litre assisted by an electric
motor. The ‘300’ indicates the hybrid provides the sort of performance normally requiring a
Spare parts and servicing are reasonably priced for a car in this class. Lexus dealers in the
earlier years were fairly scarce in rural areas. However, that has significantly changed in
recent years as major country cities are now being serviced.
Some senior Toyota technicians are trained in most aspects of the car. Toyota is, of
course, the parent company of Lexus.
Insurance is generally moderate in price for a car in this price and social class and we
haven’t seen any big variations between the major companies.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Prior to calling for a professional inspection look over the complete vehicle, preferably with
the owner’s handbook in front of you, as these are complex cars. You may weed out
obvious duds by doing this.
At the very least, test each of the functions on the stereo, climate-control, windows and
Listen for squeals from the brake discs, even when you’re braking gently. This could
indicate they are near the end of their life, but there could be other troubles. Go to a brake
specialist to have this checked.
Look for damage to the bodywork and the interior trim as it should be close to immaculate
in all areas.
We have heard a few complaints about the dash top deteriorating if the car has been out
in the sun all the time. One that’s been garaged or parked under a building is a better bet.
Make sure the engine starts virtually instantaneously, idles smoothly and doesn’t hesitate
During your test drive check for anything out of the ordinary in the way the car drives,
sounds and feels.
The automatic transmission should operate almost imperceptibly and not hold onto any
Budget on paying from $10,000 to $16,000 for a 2013 Lexus IS250 Prestige; $15,000 to
$23,000 for a 2015 IS200t F Sport; $19,000 to $28,000 for a 2015 IS250 Sports Luxury;
$25,000 to $33,000 for a 2016 IS350 Sports Luxury; $32,000 to $43,000 for a 2018 IS350
F Sport; $39,000 to $52,000 for a 2020 IS300h F Sport; and $42,000 to $57,000 for a
2021 IS300 F Sport.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: