2013 Lexus IS Preview

Jeff Youngs | May 14, 2013
  • Sporty line includes convertible, high-performance models
  • Navigation system upgraded for 2013
  • Rear-wheel and all-wheel drive (RWD and AWD) are available
  • Many styling features are available as options
  • Engine lineup includes V-6 and V-8 power


The Lexus IS line is comprised of several small vehicles, all of which represent the automaker's entry-level model lineup. They're available at various levels of luxury and performance. The base model is the IS 250; the IS 350 is the more powerful version. Both the IS 250 and the IS 350 are available in RWD or AWD. The IS 250 C and IS 350 C are the convertible versions; both are offered in RWD only. The IS F is the sportiest and highest-powered version, offered in RWD. Each model is available in a single trim level, but with many option packages and available accessories. The Lexus IS line's main competitors include the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Exterior Features

The 2013 Lexus IS 250 is available in nine exterior colors. The IS 350, 250 C and 350 C, and the IS F offer fewer color options than the base IS 250 sedan. The IS 250 features 17-inch wheels, fog lights, heated mirrors, sunroof, and keyless entry/ignition as standard equipment. The IS 350 has xenon headlights and LED running lights. The IS C has a power-retractable hardtop. The IS F upgrades to Brembo brakes and 19-inch alloy wheels, plus a sportier suspension, limited-slip rear differential, and bi-xenon headlights.

Interior Features

Standard interior features on all IS models include leather upholstery, in a variety of colors depending on the model. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard on the IS 250 and IS 350, as well as on the convertible versions of both models. So are 8-way power front seats (heated on the AWD version), auto-dimming rearview mirror, and 13-speaker sound system. The Lexus IS F steps up to sport seats in front (10-way adjustable with memory), black leather faux-suede seat inserts, and, at no charge, a choice of two two-tone interior schemes.

Optional Features

Heated/ventilated front seats and wood trim are available as a package on all models of the 2013 IS. A navigation system is available as part of a packaged group of options; the package also includes a rearview camera, enhancements to the phone/audio connectivity, and Lexus Enform telematics. With it, the buyer may add a Mark Levinson 14-speaker surround-sound audio system. Several other option packages are available on the different IS models. Offered only with RWD on the IS 250 and 350, the F Sport package upgrades to 18-inch wheels, front and rear spoilers, sportier suspension, sport seats, and a special grille treatment. The Luxury package includes automatic wipers and dimming exterior mirrors, power rear sunshade, power-adjustable steering wheel, and, on RWD models, 18-inch wheels. Many stand-alone options are available, including 19-inch forged alloy wheels (10-spoke or full-face) with performance tires, performance exhaust system, sporty front and rear brakes, sway bars, carpeted trunk mat, rear bumper appliqué, door edge guards, and wheel locks.

Under the Hood

The Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 2.5-liter, 204-horsepower V-6 engine that produces 185 lb.-ft. of torque. It works with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Lexus IS 350 features a 3.5-liter, 306-horsepower V-6 engine that produces 277 lb.-ft. of torque. The IS F features a 5.0-liter, 416-horsepower V-8 engine that sends its power to the rear wheels and produces up to 371 lb.-ft. of torque. It works with an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift paddles.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Lexus IS line are:

  • IS 250 with RWD: 21/30/24 mpg (city/highway/combined)
  • IS 250 with AWD: 21/27/23 mpg
  • IS 350 with RWD: 19/27/22 mpg
  • IS 350 with AWD: 18/26/21 mpg
  • IS F: 16/23/18 mpg


All Lexus IS models feature front and rear side air bags, side curtain air bags, anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, and traction control. Smart Stop technology reduces engine power under certain specific circumstances when the brake pedal is firmly applied, even if the accelerator pedal is fully pressed down. The Safety Connect system allows emergency communications even if there's no mobile phone in the car.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have not yet released their safety ratings for the 2013 Lexus IS.


For 2014, the Lexus IS lineup will include a version featuring parent company Toyota's hybrid technology. The maker says the optional Mark Levinson sound system employs lighter, more energy-efficient components to reduce distortion and provide more power while putting less electrical load on the alternator.
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