Skip to main content

Unchanged styling masks big changes under the hood for the 2016 Lexus IS

The Lexus IS was designed to take on German sports sedans like the BMW 3 Series, and for 2016 it gets an update that brings it in line with the latest trend followed by those benchmark models.

Until now, the IS was one of the only cars in its class not to offer a turbocharged engine. Lexus has changed that, giving the IS the 2.0-liter turbo four introduced last year on the NX crossover, along with a handful of other updates.

The new IS 200t model replaces last year’s IS 250 and its naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter V6. Available with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission only, it boasts 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough for 0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph, Lexus says.

Lexus also added another 3.5-liter V6 model that slots into its lineup above the IS 200t, but below the current IS 350. The IS 300 has 255 hp, 236 lb-ft of torque, a six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. It will do 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, and top out at 131 mph.

The IS 350 is the only carryover model for 2016, and the only one available with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Power output is unchanged at 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive models get an eight-speed automatic, while all-wheel drive models make due with two fewer gears.

With the most power, it’s not surprising that the IS 350 is the quickest IS model, doing 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds with rear-wheel drive, and 5.7 seconds with all-wheel drive. However, it’s not any faster; rear-wheel drive models still top out at 143 mph, while all-wheel drive cars manage 131 mph.

Other than the reshuffled engine lineup, the IS doesn’t get many major changes for 2016. It retains the controversial styling that’s inspired double-takes since 2014, complete with Lexus’ obligatory “spindle grille,” unusually-shaped headlights with LED slashes, and lots of other dramatic folds and curves.

Like other Lexus models, the 2016 IS does get the Lexus Enform Service Connect telematics services, which allows owners to manage vehicle maintenance using an (iOS-only) app or a website. Lexus provides the first year for free and owners pay a subscription fee beyond that.

Other teach features include Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, a seven-inch central display screen paired with a 4.2-inch vertical display in the gauge cluster, and an optional 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. An available F Sport package adds some light performance upgrades.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Forget business trips. The 2016 Lexus RX is for painting the town red
2016 Lexus RX front angle

The luxury crossover segment is one that Lexus arguably put on the map when it introduced its RX luxury utility vehicle (no, not "LUV"). With everyone muscling in on the luxury crossover territory in some fashion or another now, the RX can’t just get by on brand prestige. For 2016, the luxury automaker plans to remind us why it holds the honor of making the best-selling luxury SUV with the all-new 2016 Lexus RX.

With a new, sharper exterior look, the latest RX isn’t just a crossover; it’s a fashion accessory. It sports the brand’s signature spindle grille that is flanked by triple L-shaped LED headlamps. The narrow lamps seem to give the RX a stern, confident look. Its seriousness and fashion-forward look is driven home by the angular grooves that cut from the fog lamps down to the aggressive front lip.

Read more
Lexus’ 2016 RX is coming to the Big Apple
2016 Lexus RX teaser

While Lexus is trying to reinvent itself as a sporty and youthful, the current-generation RX shows that it still has a long way to go.

The RX is one of Lexus' best-selling models, but its Highlander roots and forgettable demeanor don't exactly help the brand's image, and even seem to embarrass parent Toyota sometimes.

Read more
You’ll soon be able to watch YouTube videos in your Android Automotive car
Android Auto in a car.

Google is making a bigger play for the in-car infotainment system. At Google I/O 2023, the company took the wraps off of a series of improvements to both Android Auto and Android Automotive, allowing those who want Google-based services in their car to get more features and better account integration.

As a reminder, the two systems may have a similar (almost identical?) name, but are actually quite different. Android Auto essentially just projects content from your phone, whether through a wireless or wired connection. It's Google's answer to Apple's CarPlay, and doesn't work without your phone. Android Automotive, however, is a version of Android that runs in the car itself, as the car's main infotainment system. It works whether you have a connected phone or not. Collectively, Google refers to the systems as Android for Cars -- yes, yet another name.

Read more