This is one of our favorite compact sport sedans. Why? It is just an exciting car to drive, ready to take off in an instant, nimble in traffic and quick to merge on busy highways. In the past, we have tested the IS300 and 350, but this time, Lexus dispatched over the top dog in the IS stable – the IS500, which hit the road just two years ago. Want to hear a catchy throaty rumble in your ride? Well, turn on the engine, push the pedal to the metal and watch as you hit 60 in just 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph. Now, that’s remarkable.

Under the unitized steel body resides a 5.0-liter V-8 engine that cranks out 472 horsepower @ 7700 rpm and 395 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm. Equipped with the IS F high-performance model’s eight-speed auto gearbox, it can be driven in eco, normal, sport or snow modes. Suspension in the rear-wheel-drive car is handled by an independent double wishbone front and a multilink rear system to smoothen breaks, bumps and turns on the road. The rack-and-pinion steering with electric power assist is quick, precise and well-weighted.

Slender triple-beam LED headlights and daytime running lights flank the massive spindle grille, while F Sport Performance-inspired bumpers, black badging, rocker molding and dark chrome window trim are a standout. Step to the rear and the L-designed blade-style lightbar and stacked quad tail pipes will catch the eye. A mouse-like, easy-to-use Remote Touch enables the driver to toggle navigation, climate, audio and phone controls, which are displayed on a 10.3-inch screen. Audiophiles will love the melodious sound resonating from the incredible 17-speaker, 1,800-watt Mark Levinson premium system. Among the plentiful of comforts in the lavish and spacious cabin are dual auto a/c, 10-way power and eight-way front-passenger Nu-Luxe leather heated/cooled seats, power moon roof, LFA-inspired 8-inch TFT instrument cluster with sliding bezel, 60/40 rear seat, rear power sunshade, silver-metallic analog clock, and a power tilt/telescopic heated steering column.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, vehicle stability and traction controls, front/rear crumple zones, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, panoramic view monitor, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system. Add in a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians and bicyclists, lane departure alert, auto emergency brake, lane trace/road sign/steering assists and dynamic cruise control, all part of the no-cost Lexus Safety Sense+2.5.

Looking for a little bit of gusto than just driving from point A to point B in your ride? Then the rev happy and powerful IS500 will be more than pleased to oblige. A lavish cabin and a highly notable safety cocoon should help seal the deal.


Tires: 235/40R19 front, 265/35R19 rear

Wheelbase: 110.2 inches

Length: 185.4 inches

Width: 72.4 inches

Height: 56.5 inches

Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons

City: 17 mpg

Highway: 25 mpg

Weight: 4,817 pounds

Base price: $63,370

Price as tested: $66,970

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