Lexus IS 500 F Sport sedan brings fun V
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Lexus IS 500 F Sport sedan brings fun V

Jun 12, 2023

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The 2023 Lexus IS 500 Premium performance sedan features a 5.0-liter V-8 gasoline engine with 472 horsepower.

The 2023 Lexus IS 500 Premium performance sedan.

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What originally debuted in the late 1990s as the baby Lexus – a compact sedan smaller than the popular ES line – the Lexus IS has now morphed in its third generation into a line that includes exceptional sporty performance.

That came with the 2022 introduction of the IS 500 F Sport, a five-passenger compact sedan with the power and handling of a sports car.

Under the hood is a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 gasoline engine that generates 472 horsepower and 395 foot-pounds of torque, linked to a rear-wheel-drive eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for simulated manual gear selection.

Although we didn't verify these figures ourselves, the IS 500 Premium reportedly can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and has a top speed of 149 mph.

We had a lot of fun driving this car, especially because it looks quite tame on the outside, but shocks nearby drivers with its sporty takeoffs and passing performance.

EPA fuel economy ratings are 17 mpg city/25 highway/20 combined. But I can guarantee that you won't achieve those numbers while taking advantage of the IS 500's quick starts and track speeds.

The IS 500 F Sport comes in two versions: the regular F Sport model (base price $58,270 plus $1,150 freight), and our tester, the F Sport Premium ($62,770). Both offer the same power and performance.

There are less-expensive and less-powerful IS models, beginning with the base IS 300 ($40,585, rear drive; $42,585, all-wheel drive).

The rest are designated F Sport models, starting with the IS 350 F Sport Design ($43,660, rear drive; $45,660, AWD), followed by the IS 350 F Sport ($44,910, rear drive; $46,910, AWD).

IS 300 rear-drive models are powered by a twin-turbo 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 241 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque, connected to an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

The all-wheel-drive IS 300 gets a normally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine, paired with a six-speed automatic, also with paddle shifters. This engine produces 260 horsepower and 236 foot-pounds of torque.

Moving up to the IS 350, you’ll get a normally aspirated 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 rated at 311 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque in both the rear-drive and all-wheel-drive versions.

In a reverse of the IS 300, the IS 350 models come with an eight-speed automatic in the rear-drive versions, and a six-speed automatic in the all-wheel-drive versions. Both of these transmissions also come with paddle shifters.

All IS models require premium unleaded gasoline (minimum 91 octane), according to Lexus, and come with a 17.4-gallon fuel tank.

For 2023, Lexus introduced the IS 350 F Sport Design grade as the entry to the F Sport line. According to Lexus, the Design model includes F Sport exterior styling features including the special bumpers, grille, rear lip spoiler and badging, along with the 19-inch F Sport alloy wheels.

Moving up to the one simply called the IS 350 F Sport, buyers will get a new handling package for 2023, featuring the Adaptive Variable Suspension, Torsen Limited-Slip Rear Differential (on RWD models) and Drive Mode Select with Sport S/S+ and Custom Modes. The available 19-inch Matte Black BBS forged alloy wheels ($2,450) can also be added to this package.

For 2023, the IS 500 comes with new 19-inch Enkei alloy wheels with a dark finish, but also available will be the 19-inch Matte Black BBS forged alloy wheels, which were included for the $2,450 extra on our test vehicle.

The IS F Sport models come with slender headlights and daytime running lights with a sharp L-shape signature that runs laterally just above the headlights.

There are 10 exterior colors available on the IS for 2023, including Atomic Silver, Caviar, and Matador Red Mica, and Grecian water, all at no extra charge; Ultra White, Eminent White Pearl, Iridium, and Cloudburst Gray, all for $500 extra; and Infrared and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0, both at $595 extra.

Our test vehicle came with the Ultrasonic Blue Mica exterior.

The IS interior features standard NuLuxe-trimmed seating, with 10-way power driver and eight-way power adjustable front passenger seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with touch-sensitive controls, an available power moon roof and SmartAccess with pushbutton start/stop.

F Sport models feature door trim with a graphic pattern of embossed intersecting lines; decorative ornamentation finished in Black Metallic paint; Black Geometric Film; or the exclusive Satin Chrome on IS 500 F SPORT Performance models, which is new for 2023.

Standard NuLuxe interior trim color options include Black, Glazed Caramel and Rioja Red.

For IS 350 F SPORT and IS 500 F SPORT models, the available interior colors include Black, Circuit Red, and two-tone White/Black trim.

The IS comes with an eight-inch touch screen for easy access to the controls, or, on our F Sport Premium, a 10.3-inch touch screen, which came with navigation and Mark Levinson premium audio system.

Our vehicle's infotainment system included Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration.

The Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System includes 17 speakers with an amplifier delivering 1,800 watts of sound. This system reduces interference, improves output (aided by the addition of two speakers) and improves overall sound quality with EQ tuning.

The audio amplifier has enhanced Quantum Logic Surround for playback of compressed sound sources and to provide a 7.1 surround sound listening experience.

Standard is the Lexus Safety System 2.5, with such features as the Pre-Collision System with Frontal Collision Warning; Automatic Emergency Braking, and both Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection.

Enhancement to the lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements have made it possible for the system to help detect not only the vehicle ahead but also a preceding bicyclist in daytime and even a preceding pedestrian in daytime and low-light conditions, Lexus says.

At intersections, the system has the capability to recognize an oncoming vehicle when performing a left-hand turn, or a pedestrian when performing left- and right-hand turns, and is designed to activate typical pre-collision avoidance functions if necessary.

Other functions include Emergency Steering Assist, designed to assist steering within the vehicle's lane as cued by the driver.

The IS's all-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control can be activated above 30 mph and is designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to zero mph, and can resume from a stop.

Also included is Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, designed to notify the driver if it senses an inadvertent lane departure at speeds above 32 mph via steering wheel vibrations or audible alerts.

Other standard features include Intelligent High Beams, which detects preceding or oncoming vehicles and automatically switches between high beam and low beam headlights; and Road Sign Assist, designed to acquire road sign information using a camera and navigation maps when data is available.

There are 10 standard air bags, including seat-mounted side air bags and roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for both rows. Also included is Brake Assist with Smart-Stop Technology.

The front bucket seats are bolstered, which takes away some of the expected comfort, but helps to keep the front occupants planted during spirited driving.

As with most compact sedans, three people can ride in the back seat, although two are more comfortable.

Total sticker price for our 2023 Lexus IS 500 Premium F Sport sedan, including freight and options, was $66,965.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Express-News since 2000. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @gchambers3. His driving partner Emma Jayne Williams contributed to this report.

The inerior of the 2023 Lexus IS 500 sedan includes a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

The package: Premium, compact, four-door, five-passenger, rear-wheel-drive, V-8 gasoline-powered performance sedan.

Highlights: The compact Lexus sedan was updated for 2021, and the IS 500 F Sport version was added for 2022. It offers sporty V-8 performance in a sedan that acts more like a sports car. This Lexus sedan line offers a long list of standard premium features.

Negatives: Rear seat tight for three people; limited trunk capacity.

Engine: 5.0-liter V-8, normally aspirated, gasoline.

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

Power/torque: 472 HP./395 foot-pounds.

Length: 187.3 inches.

Curb weight range: 3,891-4,817 pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain for both rows.

Trunk capacity: 10.8 cubic feet.

EPA fuel economy: 17 mpg city/25 highway/20 combined.

Fuel capacity/type: 17.4 gallons/premium unleaded.

Base price range: $58,270-$62,770 plus $1,150 freight.

Price as tested: $66,965, including freight and options (2023 IS 500 F Sport Premium RWD).

On the Road rating: 8.3 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

2023 Lexus IS 500 F Sport sedan The package: Highlights: Negatives: Engine: Transmission: Power/torque: Length: Curb weight range: Brakes, front/rear: Electronic stability control: Side air bags: Trunk capacity: EPA fuel economy: Fuel capacity/type: Base price range: Price as tested: On the Road rating: