Inside, you’ll quickly see this is a small sedan, with limited room in the back seat. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who regularly has to transport people in the back seat, as things are going to be pretty tight there, and trunk space is limited too. As per usual, Lexus has provided a top-notch design for the interior, with quality, comfortable materials throughout. Seating is comfy even on longer drives. This is a car you’ll want to get into every day.
There are multiple engine options in the IS lineup, but my test vehicle featured a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that offered 241 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque; it also featured an eight-speed automatic transmission. Steering wheel paddles shifters are included for those who want to get more hands-on with their shifting.
The IS 200t model only comes with rear-wheel drive, but some other models (IS 350 configurations) offer both RWD and AWD options.
Eco, Sport, Normal and Snow modes are offered on the IS and can be switched as needed while you drive. The IS 200t also features a double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension.
So what does all that mean in the real world? Point blank: The Lexus IS 200t is very fast and very fun to drive. No way around it. That’s the appeal of this vehicle. It’s not the most practical size-wise, but in terms of enjoyment it ranks high on your list of options. It’s not trying to be everything; it’s just an awesome vehicle to drive.
Of course, the same can be said about most of the other top contenders in this category, and some of the other options are faster in a straight line. But when you factor in the overall driving experience, and the superb responsiveness of the IS 200t to every move of the steering wheel and the brake pedal, you may not be worried so much about losing a second on the 0-to-60 rankings.
Safety is a strong point on the Lexus lineup. The Lexus Safety System’s standard features include: Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Intelligent high beam headlamps; radar cruise control; and Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Protection. Blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are also offered as an option.
The infotainment system continues to be a trouble spot for Lexus and controlling it is often frustrating. It’s something that needs to be addressed in future models, as its competition has systems which work much better.
You also get Bluetooth connectivity for phone use and audio streaming, plus a 3-month free trial to satellite radio, and a CD player if you’re still old-school with your music habits.
Official mileage numbers on the 2017 Lexus IS 200t are 22 city/32 highway/26 combined. This are middle-of-the-road numbers for its class, so you won’t be getting the best fuel mileage possible but you won’t break the bank either.
PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
My test vehicle was just over $45,000 after options, but the base price starts at under $38,000. For a luxury vehicle that’s not bad, though a couple competitors undercut the price by a few grand. On the flip side, some of the competition is pricier.
One other thing to consider: Reliability -- and Lexus arguably has a better argument here than any of its rivals. Their vehicles are built to last, by almost all accounts. That has to count for something.
Due to the general trend of loyalty by luxury car buyers, Lexus won’t be taking over the sales crown from the Germans in this segment anytime soon. But that’s not a slight on the IS, just a reality of the market. Based on the vehicle’s performance, its unique design and quality build and materials, the 2017 Lexus IS 200t is worth a test-drive by anyone considering a purchase of this type of vehicle.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.