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2013 Lexus IS 250 Overview
On the verge of a redesign, the comfort-over-performance Lexus IS 250 sedan continues into its 8th year with again minor changes. Its optional Enform communication software is updated for 2013, adding HD radio with iTunes tagging and a smartphone suite of applications, but the option for a manual transmission is gone, leaving just a 6-speed automatic to further emphasize the IS 250's focus on commuting comfort. Everything else carries over from 2012 completely untouched, and that's a good thing. Drivers love the IS 250 for its ride quality, elbow room, reliability, fuel economy and style, while praising its high level of technology and materials quality. They wouldn't change a thing, and Lexus did well to listen.
Don't be fooled by the IS 250's sports-car look though…it goes only skin deep. Sure, the rear seats are not the most comfortable, but passenger discomfort alone does not make a sports car. For one, the ride is smooth and supple, and for another, fuel economy is just too good to be a sports car, sipping just 21 mpg city/30 highway with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or 21/27 with optional all-wheel drive (AWD). Of course, that also means it takes 7.9 to 8.3 seconds (respectively speaking) to hit 60 mph from a standstill, placing it no less than 2 seconds behind its more sporting competition. Steering response is a bit too light to be compellingly connected to the road, and trying a Ferrari maneuver in the IS 250 results in significant body roll, but if you hit a pothole or the transmission shifts along the way, you won't know it.
No, the IS 250 is no sports car—but it is a fine commuter. Boasting 13 cubic feet in the trunk plus the cramped rear seat, it's not really suited to very long road-tripping, but if you do, some drivers say the fuel economy figures are surprisingly conservative. That said, V6 engines are notorious for gulping fuel in standstill traffic, so if your daily drive is a constant stop-and-go, the IS 250's 204 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque 2.5-liter V6 may not be the most efficient choice.
Standard equipment in the lone trim includes 17-inch wheels, fog lights, heated mirrors, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 8-way powered front seats, leather upholstery, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a 13-speaker sound system with 6-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB interface, and the Safety Connect telematics system. Opting for AWD adds heated front seats.
As for that redesign, it's expected to be a pretty big deal. Although the engine and interior accommodations are not expected to change very much, early photos indicate Lexus plans to merge the convertible and sedan platforms into one versatile base. The move could make more overall space, since this is the one point of criticism that stands the test of time, but it will almost definitely add a few hundred pounds to its curb weight and perhaps suck out what's left of its performance. There really isn't much information about the next-generation IS 250, so it could still be another year before we see it in the States, but if you went by every other maker's cycle, the IS 250 would be due for its third refresh in 2014—which is certainly more than the zero it's gotten so far.
by Patricia Mayo
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