Although the Lexus IS has been around for 20 years, it doesn’t get much credit in the luxury compact car segment. With historically good alternatives like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 taking up most of the limelight, the eccentric Lexus is easy to miss. But the Lexus IS 2021 hopes to change all that. With a new look, more advanced features, both inside and out, and a revised suspension that’s said to be sportier, Lexus hopes the new IS will get people talking … as long as they don’t talk about power.
Acute face lift
Not much has changed for the new IS visually (or below, really, since the IS travels on the same platform). The sedan still uses the brand’s axle grille, albeit a revised “three-dimensional” version of it, which is now accented by a larger lower inlet and two larger accent vents on either side. On the Lexus IS F Sport specifically (pictured below), the grille and vents get more darkened elements and a unique mesh pattern that separates that trim from non-F Sport models.The headlights are lower and larger too. The 2021 IS abandons the split model headlight fixture from the previous model, with the main beam above and the accented “swoosh” LED below it, for a more traditional setup with the LED accent now embedded within the housing. Triple beam LED headlights are available as an option.
The new Lexus IS also gets a more sculpted profile with a muscular line at the shoulder that extends upward and over the rear wheel wells. The wheels are new, too, with the 2021 IS F Sport balancing the optional 19-inch BBS wheels for the first time, while 18-inch wheels are now standard on lower versions. The IS backend, meanwhile, has a full-width LED taillight bar that forms seamlessly in angular fixtures on both sides. The company anticipated that new rear design earlier this month in a teaser image.
Like its bases, the interior of the Lexus IS 2021 is also not entirely new. But the updated cabin offers a little more technology. An 8.0-inch touchscreen comes standard, which is now three inches closer to the controller, while a larger 10.3-inch touchscreen is available as an option. Things like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility are standard, but the same maddening touchpad controller from the previous model continues.
The new IS also features the latest Lexus security equipment. Nicknamed “Lexus Safety System + 2.5,” the standard set of active safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection and a pre-crash warning system. The most advanced equipment, such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, road marking assistance, and even lane departure warning with lane centering technology, is available at additional cost.
It is unknown how much the 2021 Lexus IS will cost when it goes on sale, but we expect the new sedan to hit dealerships before the end of the year.