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Quick Drive: 2016 Lexus IS 200t F-Sport


William Maley

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The Lexus IS is one of my favorite luxury sedans on sale today. The styling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it helps make the IS stand out in a very crowded field of compact luxury sedans. Paired with the excellent 3.5L V6 and F-Sport package, the IS gives the German competition a run for its money in the twisty bits. Since we last drove the IS back in 2014, Lexus has made some changes to IS’ lineup with the base 2.5L V6 being dropped and a new turbocharged four-cylinder taking its place, along with a new variant of 3.5L V6 producing 255 horsepower badged as the IS 300. Recently, I spent some time in the IS 200t F-Sport and it was a bit disappointing. Read on to find out why.

  • The cause for my disappointment? The turbocharged four-cylinder. The engine in question is the same one that is used in the NX 200t, a turbo 2.0L four-cylinder producing 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic comes standard on rear-drive models, while all-wheel drive models retain a six-speed automatic. 
  • Compared to the NX 200t, I think this engine has gotten worse in the IS. The major problem is turbo lag. I could count to three after stepping on the accelerator before the turbo would spool up and give the vehicle the needed shove to move along. Even with the vehicle in Sport mode, it takes a moment for the turbo to wake up. 
  • Once the turbo is spooled up, it moves the IS with some authority. Power comes on at a steady and smooth rate. The engine also very refined with little noise coming inside. 
  • EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined. Our average landed around 24 mpg, partly due to my foot putting the pedal almost to the floor in an effort to make the turbo was up. 
  • The F-Sport package is the ace up the IS 200t’s sleeve. A revised suspension and steering setup, along with a set of summer tires make the IS a joy to pilot around corners. There is no body roll when entering a corner and the steering provides an excellent feel of the road. 
  • Unlike the IS 350 F-Sport, the 250 does without the adaptive dampers. This might make some reconsider as the ride can become somewhat rough over bumpy and pothole-ladened roads.
  • Styling is still polarizing with sharp creases, an interesting lighting setup up front, and a grille that looks like it was styled off the Predator. The F-Sport package actually helps balance this design with new front bumper, mesh grille insert, and a set of 18-inch wheels finished in a dark gray. I’m not usually a fan of red on a vehicle, but it actually works quite well for the F-Sport.
  • The IS’ interior hasn’t changed much since we last visited it in 2014. This means the excellent sport seats and well laid out instrument cluster are here. It also means the smallish screen for the infotainment system and the infuriating Lexus Remote Touch controller. The back seat is still quite small for most passengers, though I would say the Cadillac ATS’ back seat is even smaller.
  • The 2016 IS 200t F-Sport begins at $40,870. Our test car came with a few options such as blind spot monitoring (which you need because rear visibility is poor), radar cruise control, navigation, Mark Levinson audio system, and heated front seats. This brought the as-tested price to $45,705. But for only $1,000 to $1,500 more, you can get into a decently equipped IS 350 F-Sport with adaptive dampers and the better engine. 
  • The Lexus IS is still an impressive compact luxury sedan and one that deserves more of the spotlight. But the 2.0L turbo spoils an impressive sedan. This is a case of right car, wrong engine.

 

Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the IS 200t, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2016
Make: Lexus
Model: IS
Trim: 200t F-Sport
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-iW Inline-Four
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 241 @ 5,800
Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,650 - 4,400
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26
Curb Weight: 3,583 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
Base Price: $37,325
As Tested Price: $45,705 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)

Options:
F-Sport Package - $3,545.00
Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,645.00
Blind Spot Monitoring w/Rear Cross-Traffic Alert - $600.00
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control - $500.00
F-Sport Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel with Heat - $150.00


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7 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

I still love this car's styling. No way would I not get that sweet V6, though.

V6 is very sweet indeed.  And this is perhaps why i was so down on the Lincolns in the Lincoln threads.  This is just so much more athletic and sleek in it styling that it isn't really even funny.

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1 minute ago, A Horse With No Name said:

V6 is very sweet indeed.  And this is perhaps why i was so down on the Lincolns in the Lincoln threads.  This is just so much more athletic and sleek in it styling that it isn't really even funny.

It's just too bad they decided to not make a performance model this go round. An IS-F with that 450hp V8 would have really shined. 

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Just now, Frisky Dingo said:

It's just too bad they decided to not make a performance model this go round. An IS-F with that 450hp V8 would have really shined. 

Agreed!

Glad you like the styling on this. 

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Lexus has reliability on their side, however their engines are severely dated and outmatched in the luxury game.  That 3.5 V6 has been on sales for over 10 years with zero increase in horsepower.   The Lexus LS V8 launched in 2007 when the S-slass launched the new 5.5 liter V8 that had more power and torque.  Next year the S-class is getting it's 2nd new engine since then, the LS460 still has the same 385 hp V8, that is pathetic.  V6s make more than that now. 

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8 hours ago, smk4565 said:

Lexus has reliability on their side, however their engines are severely dated and outmatched in the luxury game.  That 3.5 V6 has been on sales for over 10 years with zero increase in horsepower.   The Lexus LS V8 launched in 2007 when the S-slass launched the new 5.5 liter V8 that had more power and torque.  Next year the S-class is getting it's 2nd new engine since then, the LS460 still has the same 385 hp V8, that is pathetic.  V6s make more than that now. 

I will give you this-while I do not like them from a subjectively personal standpoint and also think the long term running and parts costs are obscene...

Mercedes Benz is really at the top of the luxury car game if I am intellectually honest with myself. They offer more unique options, have a more loyal fan base, have more power, features, etc....

That being said I would still buy a Lexus before I would buy a Benz. It is almost as if there are three separate theirs of Luxury cars.

Tier one, ranked in order;

Mercedes Benz

Audi

BMW

Lexus

Tier two;

Cadillac

Acura

Lincoln and Infinity tied towards the bottom of tier two

Tier Three;

Volvo

Buick

Geneisis

At the top of tier one would be non traditional premium brands like Porsche, Land Rover, Jag, Lotus, etc.  All of them will I think carry higher prestige than perhaps BMW or Audi per se.

Above Tier would would be McLaren, Bentley, Rolls, Bugatti, etc.

Lexus is really in danger of falling into the second tier I think. as their SUV lineup is really bland and dated.

But keep in mind, people buying Lexus vehicles are really real estate agents and dentists that want an ultra reliable vehicle that will bring them some level of prestige. In Toyota's corporate DNA is using the same things over and over again as long as they can and perfecting the manufacturing process.

Their target market could care less about the extra power for the most part.

 

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Lexus's customer base came from Toyota or old folks that think 200 hp is plenty, so when you give them 268 hp V6 they think it is a lot.  But anyone with a performance car isn't going to go look at Lexus, even the GS-F is like CTS v-sport or E43 sort of speed, the top Lexus performance sedan is mid level at Cadillac or the German trio.  Lexus has that loyal buyer but they aren't atttracting new people, they are like Buick of the 90s clinging to a dying customer base.

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2 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

Lexus's customer base came from Toyota or old folks that think 200 hp is plenty, so when you give them 268 hp V6 they think it is a lot.  But anyone with a performance car isn't going to go look at Lexus, even the GS-F is like CTS v-sport or E43 sort of speed, the top Lexus performance sedan is mid level at Cadillac or the German trio.  Lexus has that loyal buyer but they aren't atttracting new people, they are like Buick of the 90s clinging to a dying customer base.

On the contrary they are doing pretty well for themselves. Lincoln has the oldest buyer demographic by far, at something like 61 or 62 years.  Buick has dropped their average buyer age by more than any other premium brand.

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Lincoln does have the oldest buyers, everything I read puts them at 61 or higher.  But Lexus is top 4 in age, I have seen 57 to 61 for average buyer ages.  The NX will bring some younger former RAV4 drivers in.  Buick is still among the oldest buyers, they dropped from like 67 down to 59.

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    • By William Maley
      4Runner Venture Edition
      Not much has changed outside since we last checked out the 4Runner in 2016. It still has a blocky and chunky look that helps it stand apart from other SUVs. This Venture model adds several goodies such as TRD wheels, blacked-out trim pieces, and a Yakima roof rack; perfect if you decide to go adventuring. Inside, Toyota has made a massive update to the infotainment system. A larger eight-inch touchscreen running an updated version of Toyota’s Entune system is standard. This change makes it so much easier to operate the system either parked on while on the move. It doesn’t hurt that this system also brings forth Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Aside from this, the interior hasn’t changed. There is plenty of space for those sitting in the front or back, and controls are well marked. Power comes from the old, but reliable 4.0L V6 with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The base SR5 can be equipped rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, while other trims only come with four-wheel drive. The 4Runner’s performance is adequate. Around town, the V6 can get up to speed quickly and smoothly. But it struggles when trying to get up to higher speeds. Adding an extra gear would allow for more flexibility in terms of performance. It would also help fuel economy as I saw 15.4 mpg for the week. EPA figures are 16 City/19 Highway/17 Combined. My average for the week landed at 15.4 mpg. The 4Runner’s roots of being an old-school SUV show up prominently when driving on pavement. It has noticeable body roll-around turns and the ride quality is rough. One area that I sadly did not get to test was the off-road capability. With such features as Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control, this helps make the 4Runner very capable off-road. The 4Runner should be considered by someone who wants to venture off-road. For those who are planning to commute or go on family trips while on pavement, Toyota has other models that should be considered first.
      Land Cruiser Heritage Edition
      The Heritage Edition adds some nice touches to the Land Cruiser’s exterior such as 18-inch BBS wheels with a bronze finish, black accents for the front grille, and vintage-style “Land Cruiser” badges on the rear pillars. The Heritage Edition does lose the entry steps found on the standard model, making it somewhat difficult to get in and out. The interior looks somewhat boring in terms of the design, but Toyota nails the materials. Wood trim, supple leather, and soft-touch materials make this a very pleasant place to be in.  Despite having one of the larger screens in Toyota’s utility lineup, the Land Cruiser’s infotainment system leaves a lot to be desired. Using an older version of Entune, it feels sluggish and the graphics look somewhat dull. No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to be found here as well. Anyone sitting in the front or second-row will have no complaints about space or comfort. No third-row is available on the Heritage Edition which helps boost cargo space from 41.3 cubic feet (with the third-row folded) to 53.5. Under the hood is a 5.7L V8 engine producing 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and a full-time four-wheel drive system.  Performance from this engine is impressive considering the Land Cruiser’s curb weight of almost 6,000 lbs. It will move away from a stop much faster than you first think. The only place where the engine seems to run out of steam is on the highway. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of providing smooth and quick shifts. I do wish it wasn’t giddy with trying to shift into top gear quickly. Fuel economy isn’t great with EPA figures of 13 City/17 Highway/14 Combined. I only got 13 mpg during my week. I was surprised at how well the Land Cruiser drove on pavement. It felt stable and provided a ride that made even some of the roughest roads feel smooth. There is a fair amount of body roll when cornering, but that is to be expected considering the size and intended purpose of this vehicle. I am bummed that I didn’t get the chance to take the Land Cruiser off-road during my week. But from reading other reviews, very few vehicles can match what is on offer. How to sum up the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition? This is a vehicle that will not impress most due to the poor fuel economy and aging infotainment system. But for a small group who are wanting something that can take them anywhere and back, and do it in comfort, the Land Cruiser is the right vehicle. (Addendum: As I post this review a few months late, I have some news on the Land Cruiser. Earlier this month, Toyota unveiled the next-generation model with a new twin-turbo V6 replacing the V8. The outside doesn't look that much different from the current model, but the interior has underwent some major changes. It is unclear whether or not we'll see this model arrive in the U.S. The best chance we possibly have is next-generation LX. Stay tuned. -WM)
      Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the SUVs, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: 4Runner
      Trim: Venture
      Engine: 4.0L DOHC 24-Valve V6
      Driveline: Five-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/19/17
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $44,285
      As Tested Price: $48,877 (Includes $1,120.00 Destination Charge and $730.00 Keep It Wild discount)
      Options:
      Kinentic Dynamic Suspension Suspension System (KDSS) - $1,750.00
      TRD Pro Exhaust - $799.00
      Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof - $730.00
      Running Boards - $345.00
      Cargo Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $269.00
      Door Edge Guard - $79.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Land Cruiser
      Trim: Heritage Edition
      Engine: 5.7L DOHC 32-Valve VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 381 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 401 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/17/14
      Curb Weight: 5,715 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $87,645
      As Tested Price: $89,239 (Includes $1,295.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Glass Breakage Sensor - $299.00
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