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Beautifully Cramped
2007 Lexus IS 250 AWD
Four Stars out of Five
Lexus IS 250 AWD

In short: A posh and sporty small luxury sedan.

At the bottom of Lexus’ venerable line-up of luxury cars is the IS, a sporty sedan that by no means feels “entry level.” Its interior is made to the same high-quality standards as the flagship LS 460, with supple leather, reddish wood trim, chrome and Grade-A plastics. It comes with a choice of two engines: our tester’s 2.5-liter, 204-horsepower V6 and a 3.5-liter V6 that makes a whopping 102 more horses. That power gap is good for an almost three-second difference in 0 to 60 mph times.

Lexus IS 250 interior is beautifully crafted

The IS is without a doubt the most fun Lexus to drive, with a suspension that is firm and sporty, without being jarring. The electric power steering is feather light at low speeds, but gains weight around turns. The all-wheel drive system found on our test car should please folks above the snow belt who worry about the standard rear-wheel drive’s traction. But if you don’t have to worry about ice and snow, AWD just adds weight, which hurts acceleration and handling.

Lexus IS 250 features a 205-horsepower V6 Lexus IS 250 has a very cramped back seat
Lexus IS 250 AWD

While the handsome, wedgy exterior is eye-catching, the trade-off to it is a cramped interior that renders the rear seat completely useless when taller folks are up front. In fact, when looking to the left, those same six-foot drivers will probably be peering out the rear window.

Our test car was equipped with luxury and navigation system packages that ratcheted the as-tested price up to $40,205. For the same price, you could get a similarly equipped Infiniti G35 AWD that offers a more spacious cabin and 306 horsepower. The IS 250 AWD is therefore a tough sell; preferred only by short folks (or those who don’t need a back seat) who prefer the IS’s sexy looks and sumptuous interior.

Lexus IS 250 AWD

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000 basic warranty; 6-year/70,000 powertrain warranty; 24-hour roadside assistance; free first maintenance.

Base Price: $30,225 /As tested: $40,205

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 2.5-liter V6
Horsepower: 204 bhp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 185 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Curb weight: 3,651 lbs
Wheelbase: 107.5 in
180.1/70.9/56.1 in
Turning circle: 35.5 feet

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS and electronic brake assist
independent front and rear
all-wheel drive, traction control, vehicle stability control

Safety: front air bags, front side air bags, front knee air bags, side curtain air bags, tire pressure monitor, optional rearview camera

0-60 mph: 8.3 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph (governed)

EPA City: 22 mpg
EPA Highway: 28 mpg

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(Updated: 02/12/08 HC)