The current-generation Lexus IS was meant to take Toyota’s luxury brand in a new and more exciting styling direction. While the IS’ styling has received mixed reviews, it certainly got peoples’ attention. Perhaps the updated version debuting at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show will ensure that more of that attention is positive.
Likely to go on sale in the U.S. as a 2017 model, the updated Lexus IS retains much of the previous version’s styling, with some cues from the facelifted 2016 Lexus GS sedan thrown in. Once again, it’s hard to say whether the IS is exactly pretty, but at least it isn’t boring.
Lexus’ trademark “spindle grille” continues to dominate the front end, but the rest of the fascia has been simplified with a pair of large air intakes. The controversial LED running light slashes remain, but the headlights are less oddly shaped. The rear end is largely the same, with taillights that bleed into a curved line running up from the rocker panels, meant to make the wheelbase seem longer. New 17-inch alloy wheels and a new hood round out the major changes.
The interior gets a few updates as well, including a 10.3-inch central display screen that replaces the previous 7.0-inch unit. Unfortunately, Lexus’ cumbersome Remote Touch Interface controller remains, but it is augmented by more buttons. Changes were also made to the audio and climate controls, the speedometer and tachometer, and some trim pieces.
There are no mechanical updates, which isn’t too surprising considering Lexus made some changes here for 2016. The IS 200t continues with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine introduced last year, good for 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The IS 300 gets a 3.5-liter V6 with 255 hp and 236 lb-ft. of torque, and the IS 350 gets the same engine, but with 306 hp and 277 lb-ft. Six-speed and eight-automatic transmissions, and rear- or all-wheel drive are available, depending on the model.
The 2017 IS is also the latest model to get the Lexus Safety System+ package of safety features, including a pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Look for more information later this year, when the 2017 IS is expected to go on sale in the U.S.