After all, the good things in life are better when shared with a friend.
My car is my haven. It’s where I mentally prepare for meetings, I breathe a sigh of relief afterward, where I organize my thoughts, belt out my favorite songs and talk over tender things with people I care about. It’s where I plan my wardrobe, plot out my nail salon strategy and contemplate my next Sephora visit.
And, it’s where I spend time with my besties. From short trips to the beach, a trip to the mall or a girls weekend, it all starts and ends with the car. So I want my car to be someplace that is as comfortable for my friends as it is for me.
And, if it’s also pretty to look at, all the better. So when the Lexus IS 200t Compact Luxury Sedan first caught my eye, I had to take a test drive.
Who This Car is For
- Singles, couples or small families
- Really, girls who spend most of their time alone the car and deserve to do it in comfort and style
- Buyers in the market for their first luxury car
- Buyers who want to reward themselves with a compact luxury sedan
- Drivers who like a smaller sedan but need seating for 4 or occasionally 5 passengers
- Drivers who want the opportunity of an aggressive drive experience
What This Car Costs
- Base price: $37,825
- F Sport package, including F Sport steeling wheel and paddle shifters, F Sport grille and wheels, F Sport suspension, heated and cooled front seats: Add $3,545
- Premium Mark Levinson sound system, 10.25” display, Lexus Enform app suite: $2,835
- Price of the model we test drove, including destination charge: $45,885
Meet the IS: This Small Lexus Compact Luxury Sedan Takes Care of You in a Big Way
The first time I saw the IS 200t was at a Lexus dealership. A dark gray IS was parked out front— it belonged to a customer— and I had to get a closer look. I loved the flowing lines and mid-center creases of the sedan, the elegant slope of the roof line and the gentle swoop of the tail fin. From the front the IS 200t has the signature Lexus diamond-faceted grille accented by lightening-bolt running lights and headlights that give the car a sharp, focused appearance. Bad-ass up front, world class elegant all around.
The IS 200t is the smallest compact luxury sedan in the Lexus lineup and for me, the perfect size. It can seat 5, though it’s really more comfortable for 4. But it’s perfect for just one or two. Even if you’ll never need the back seat, a four-door car gives you extra cargo space and and airy feeling in the cabin.
The Case for the Small Sedan: Learning to Love the Road Ahead
And, smaller sedans are easier to drive and park. The IS is the smallest sedan in the Lexus family and perfect for just me and a friend or two. Small sport sedans are also fun to drive—you’re closer to the road than in a big SUV or even a larger sedan— and they handle with more agility and often, more zip because they are lighter.
In the case of the IS 200t, the zippiness is due to the ’t’ in the name, which stands for turbo: the 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque produced by the 4-cylinder turbo engine delivers a lot of power for its size.
But the IS 200t we test drove had another advantage: it was outfitted with the F Sport package.
What is F Sport? A Bit More Fun, a Bit More Badass
The Lexus performance brand is known as the F line, named for the Fuji Speedway in Japan where the line is tested and tuned. For buyers who like the look and feel of the F line but don’t necessarily need 467 horsepower, the F Sport edition adds a little F line DNA without the heft and fuel consumption of full performance specs.
The IS 200t F Sport carries the F line’s graphics, wheels, grille, F Sport seats and an F tuned suspension, as well as paddle shifters. Which means that on ramps are really ‘oh yeah!!!’ ramps and a curvy mountain road might be the preferred route around a crowded freeway. Especially if you’re alone, just pop the Lexus into sport mode and let your soul soar.
A Driver Information Screen that Marries Analog and Digital, For Great Effect
One feature I really loved is the driver information screen. The driver ‘cluster’ screens, which display speed, tachometer and let you customize information such as fuel economy or navigation, are framed by a circular metal ring that slides side to side to accommodate different information settings. I had fun setting this up and then customizing it when I wanted different information displayed.
Letting the Lexus Take Over When the Fun is Done
This is something that every luxury car should have (not all do, sadly): automated driver assistance technology. The IS 200t includes many of these features standard, including adaptive cruise control. So when the fun of highway driving became less so as the freeway became more crowded, I popped on the ACC and was able to sit back and relax and let the car handle all the stress of California traffic. This is technology that is really great to have both in heavy traffic situations and on long trips marked by long, boring highways.
The Lexus system also includes pre-collision detection, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist and automatic high beam headlights—just set them on high and leave them. The system lowers the intensity of the light when you don’t need it.
Need a Concierge? Lexus Has You Covered There, too
This is perhaps one of the Lexus features that gets the least attention: Lexus Enform Remote and Safety Connect. Subscribe and with the push of a button you can have turn by turn directions sent to your infotainment system (the directions pop up in the driver dashboard, too!), make reservations, ask a question or call for help. Sure, your phone can do a lot of these things, and so can your friend in the front seat. But it is certainly nice to push a button and have a friendly operator help you, and you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
So even when you’re not accompanied by your besties, there’s someone there who has your back. That’s pretty nice.
What We Loved
- The size of this cute little car
- Smart key with push button start
- Multiple drive modes including eco, sport and snow
- Automatic high beam headlights
- Rear seats fold for extra cargo space
- Standard driver assistance and safety features
- 60/40 folding rear seats
- Premium sound system
- Lexus is known for high reliability
What You Need to Know
- Seating for 5 but more comfortable for 4 (or fewer)
- This is a small sports sedan
- There are 2 USB ports, both located in the center console
- F Sport styling and features are a $3,545 upgrade
- The infotainment controller mouse takes some getting used to, though it can be adjusted for sensitivity
- Not many storage spots in the front cabin, including no place to put your phone other than the arm rest or cup holders
- 22MPG city/32 highway
- Regular gas can be used, but premium is recommended to get the most performance out of the engine
What We Listened to in the Lexus IS 200t F Sport
Time by yourself or with your friends is time for great tunes. This is what we listened to in the Lexus IS 200t.
Disclosure: Lexus provided this car for my review; all opinions are my own.