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2020 Lexus IS Overview

The Lexus IS arrived on the scene for 2001, and in the intervening 19 years, it’s become quite a mainstay in the compact premium sedan segment. That category also includes the Audi A4 and S4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, so there’s stiff competition. For 2020, there are just light changes and a new special-edition model.

As before, Lexus sells the IS in IS 300 and IS 350 guises. The IS 300 comes standard with rear-wheel drive (RWD) and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. When equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD), however, the IS 300 instead gets a 3.5-liter V6 with 260 hp and 236 lb-ft. Meanwhile, the IS 350 packs a beefier version of that 3.5-liter V6, with a stout 311 hp and 280 lb-ft and either standard RWD or optional AWD. RWD versions of the IS 300 and IS 350 get an eight-speed automatic transmission, while AWD versions make do with a six-speed automatic transmission. In addition, there’s an F Sport model at every level that gets you a sport-tuned suspension, different wheels, an aerodynamic kit, and, for the IS 350 RWD, a limited-slip differential. Fuel economy measures as high as 21 mpg city, 30 highway, and 24 combined on premium fuel, for the IS 300 RWD.

Even the most basic IS comes standard with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless access and start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette, an 8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a 10-speaker audio system, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability. You can add a sunroof, heated and cooled seats, a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, genuine leather upholstery, uprated LED headlights, and a 10.3-inch infotainment system with navigation.

For 2020, there’s a new Black Line special edition, available for both the IS 300 and IS 350 and in RWD and AWD. It builds upon the F Sport trim with white, black, or blue paint, black-chrome F Sport wheels, a black grille insert, black exterior mirrors, a black leatherette interior with gray accents and indigo stitching, a heated indigo wood steering wheel, and indigo accents on the door switch panels and glove box. Lexus plans to offer just 900 Black Line units for 2020.

Unlike many of its competitors, the IS comes with a full set of standard safety features, including a rear-view camera, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring. You can add a surround-view camera system or an automated parking assistant. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the IS excellent crash scores as recently as this year.

The Lexus IS represents excellent value, choice, and style within the compact premium sedan market.

Updated

Kyree has always been fascinated with the automotive world, especially when it comes to premium European cars. But regardless of the vehicle—whether it's an efficient hybrid or the latest luxury sled—he's always ready to dispense information and advice. These days, he enjoys doing that here at CarGurus.

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