2021 Lexus IS range. Credit: Lexus
Lexus is serving up a sportier, more performance-oriented next-generation 2021 IS sports sedan. While the new IS looks sharper than the old generation with its more contoured lines and new grille, the real story is Lexus’ attention to its driving dynamics.
While the powertrain lineup hasn’t changed, Lexus says it improved driving performance through rigidity, chassis and suspension enhancements. In fact, Lexus went so far as to test and develop it on a track at its new technical center in Shimoyama, Japan. The facility was designed to help teams focus on linear steering, driving feedback, brake responses, and optimized handling along with exceptional ride quality, which it says is enhanced thanks to new shock absorbers.
“What we had foremost in mind in developing the new IS was to make it a car that excelled in communicating with the driver regardless of the road conditions or driving situation,” said Chief Engineer Naoki Kobayashi of Lexus International. “We aimed to make the new IS a Lexus compact sports sedan that provides high-quality riding comfort while offering a high level of vehicle control.”
The IS is available as both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive with three power options that are carryovers from the last generation. The base 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, updated for 2021, is rated at 241-horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque. A 3.5-liter V6 on the IS 300 AWD delivers 260-horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. You’ll have the most fun in the IS 350 with its 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 311-horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. Powertrains are mated to either a 6-speed automatic or 8-speed automatic.
2021 Lexus IS
In terms of looks, the new Lexus IS looks sharp. It’s lower, and slighter wider than the outgoing model. A new spindle grille is wider than its predecessor. There are sharper creases on the body lines that create a more contoured look as do new rocker panels on the sides. The headlights are also slimmer and triple-beam LED headlights are available. In the back, an L-shaped blade-style light bar spans across the rear.
The 2021 Lexus IS will offer available new 19-inch wheels for improved cornering along with new wheel designs. Overall two different 19-inch wheels are available on F SPORT models, including a unique BBS wheel specific to the F SPORTs equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package. (18-inch wheels are standard.)
There are five new exterior colors available on the 2021 IS, including Iridium, Cloudburst Gray, Matador Red Mica, Infrared (F SPORT exclusive), and Grecian Water.
The interior features standard NuLuxe-trimmed seating and a 10-way power driver’s seat. The multimedia touchscreen has been moved 3 inches closer to the driver. An 8-inch is standard and a new 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on vehicles equipped with navigation or the Mark Levinson sound system + navigation. And WOW it’s a 17-speaker premium sound system which we can only imagine is beyond fantastic, especially given the 14-speaker Mark Levinson system in the 2020 NX we reviewed
sounds amazing. The multimedia set-up offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration.
2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport. Credit: Toyota
For 2021, the F SPORTs will only be offered on the IS 350 powered by the 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. It features a unique front bumper with functional aerodynamic enhancements, rear bumper, grille surround, rear lip spoiler, rocker molding and badging. Along with F SPORT 19-inch wheels, a unique center cap and larger rear tires for added performance (265/35R19), they are also equipped with a cool air intake with sound generator and an F SPORT exhaust and diffuser.. You can also add Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) that includes Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). For 2021, engineers have optimized the damping force of the AVS system to help enhance performance. In the cabin, a new Circuit Red is available.
Safety-wise, the IS has you covered with Lexus Safety System+ 2.5, a suite of driver assist features. The Pre-Collision System (PCS), which include Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, features an enhancement to the single-lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements to expand the response range. Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) includes a new feature that allows for smooth overtaking of slower vehicles.
The new 2021 IS is expected to arrive in CarProUSA dealerships
in late fall. Expect pricing details closer to its on-sale date.