The IS sedan was Lexus's first big hit in the United States. Its angular styling and sharp pricing and spec against the German competition made it one of Lexus's most popular models for years. And it's still a fun car to drive, even with a less-than-exciting engine.
For 2016, Lexus gave the junior IS a heart transplant, replacing its small-displacement V-6 with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder cribbed from the NX200t crossover. That was a good move, and it brought the IS closer to parity with rivals like the BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-class and Cadillac ATS.
However, the IS 200t's eight-speed automatic isn't as quick or responsive as a driver might expect from a $45K sport sedan. Multiple editors complained of lag between shifts, and the transmission's eco or sport modes feel geared more towards fuel economy or relaxed driving than the kind of hard-edged sports-car thrash that would make the IS a joy to hustle around a back road.
This is the only trim level that offers a F Sport package, which adds staggered 18-inch wheels, a sport grille and front fascia, and heated and ventilated seats. It also includes a 10-inch touchscreen with navigation and voice control. That screen is a pleasure to use, with a large display and simple interface. You can toggle between a map, your fuel economy info, music and more by rotating a silver disc on the center console. The only major omission is active noise cancellation, which would keep the droning of the 200t's engine at bay.