Review: 2015 Lexus IS 250

Is the Lexus IS 250 too sporty and small for a full-sized family? Can it handle the load and the rigors of a family’s active lifestyle? We drove the IS 250 around town, a couple hundred miles on the highway, and around a mountain to find out.

Under The Hood:

The 2015 Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 2.4-liter 6-cylinder which pumps out a respectable 204 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. The V-6 is mated to a 6-speed automatic with standard wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

All 2015 IS models come standard with Lexus’s Drive Mode Select. A turn of a knob, or push of a button allow the driver to choose between driving modes. Our IS 250 was equipped with the standard ECO, Normal, Sport, and Snow modes. F Sport models add Sport S and Sport S+ modes.

2014_Lexus_IS_250_018Exterior:

Lexus stretched its smallest entry into the sedan category for 2015 front-to-back and side-to-side. Bulging wheel wells and a bumper-to-bumper belt line crease create in the IS the aggressive look so many manufacturers claim.

Creases and angles along the vehicle give it the look of pushing the speed limit even when it is sitting still. The hourglass shaped spindle grille on our 250 is not as organically sexy as the F Sport, but still contributes to the modern sleek aesthetic.

Interior:

While the outside of the IS250 is aggressive and sporty, the inside is luxurious and thoroughly modern. Clean line and a minimum of buttons make Lexus interiors among our favorites.

Seating is firm and comfortable. Side bolsters are soft enough for a luxury vehicle, but firm enough to keep you in your place should you choose to explore some twists and turns. Legroom and hip room were just enough to be cozily comfortable without feeling confining. Rear seat legroom was unexpectedly good for our junior testers. Hip room was adequate for two. Don’t plan on a third squeezing in.

One quibble we had was cupholder placement in the front. Two adjoining cupholders were mounted front-to-back toward the rear of the center console. Reaching your beverage required contorting your arm to reach almost behind you. A tall enough beverage gets in the way of the center arm rest. That said, we aren’t sure where else we would put them.

Infotainment 2015 Lexus IS 250Infotainment:

The IS250 features Lexus’s Enform infotainment system. The controls for the audio, HVAC, etc are as intuitive as they always are in Lexus and Toyota vehicles. The main screen and the instrument panel mounted driver information screen were both easy to control and navigate via center stack and wheel mounted controls. Additionally, Lexus’s console mounted remote touch controller is a feature we have fallen in love with.

The Enform system features App Suite which allows access to some of your favorite smartphone apps. Navigation and audio controls re also managed through the 8″ screen. The IS250 allows smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth and USB. A single DVD/CD player is also part of the audio  system.

The Drive:

The IS250 is a comfortable, easy to drive sedan. The engine allows for a level of sportiness, but will not be mistaken for a sports car power plant.

Steering, braking, and acceleration are all exactly what you expect from Lexus. The car goes where you point it with solid communication from the wheels to the driver. The brake pedal begins slowing as soon as its pressed. The brake and the accelerator have a solid feel without the play found in so many other vehicles.

Cruise control was up there with the best we have driven. The transmission in the IS350 Sport seemed as if it fought against the cruise on downhills in order to control slowing. The 250 didn’t suffer from that annoying habit. Acceleration and braking while cruise control was operating were smooth and kept the car within 3-4MPH of the set speed.

The solid, surefooted feel of the 250 on dry roads carried over to wet roads. We experienced no traction issues or hydroplaning during an early Spring squall we encountered.

Important Numbers for Families:

  • 4 – The IS 250 is big enough for four adults though if your rear seat passengers are on the small size you can probably fit three adults across the back, if only for a short ride.
  • 15 – We loved the sound of the 15-speaker, 835-watt Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System. The sound system was better than any vehicle’s sound system we’ve ever been in.
  • 24 – Lexus lists the IS 250’s EPA estimated average MPG at 24 but we gathered closer to 26 in mixed condition driving.
  • 204 – The IS 250 doesn’t leave you wanting whether you’re roaring down the on ramp or taking off to the next red light.
  • 374,590 – Lexus has sold 374,590 IS 250s in the United States since 2006 which means you’ve probably seen one around. They’re popular and after driving one, we know why.

Family 5 Test:

  1. Car Seats –  There’s no doubt about it. The IS 250 is meant to be sporty. One thing Lexus didn’t skimp on is the room in the back seat. Two car seats fit comfortably without little legs kicking the back of the front seats.
  2. Coffee Cups – As we said before, their positioning wasn’t our favorite but for function, they were up to the task perfectly holding regular cups and tall bottles in place as we traversed a mountain during our test drive.
  3. Luggage –  The IS 250 has way more space than you’d think based on the vehicle’s profile. We packed the trunk full for a day of catering a wedding including 56 pounds of pulled pork, five watermelons, 2 two gallons of barbecue sauce, 40 pounds of macaroni and cheese, plates, silverware, napkins, paper towels, serving utensils, serving platters, 10 pounds of lunch meat, 3 dozen rolls, and five pounds of M&M’s in the trunk with room to spare so it’s safe to say there’s plenty of room for your luggage.
  4. Golf Clubs – As with the Lexus ES 300h, two pairs of golf clubs will fit in the trunk of the IS 250. If you want more to fit, you’ll need to find the perfect angle.
  5. Groceries – While the IS 250 has plenty of room for all your grocery shopping needs, the cargo net is a HUGE plus when doing any shopping. Keeping all your cans, bottles, and jars in place, the cargo net holds more than you’ll think it does and is well worth the extra charge.

The Bottom Line:

We saw where some reviewers referred to the IS 250 as an entry-level luxury sedan. The only thing entry-level about it is it’s price and size relative to the rest of the Lexus sedan lineup. The car had enough sportiness to feel dynamic when we wanted it to without feeling like it belonged on a racetrack, and enough practical luxury to make us feel pampered without a feeling of excess. We miss it already.

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To see more pictures and video from this vehicle test and future tests, follow Drive My Family on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Vine (@DriveMyFamily).

photos courtesy of Lexus

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