Published in CAR REVIEWS

2017 Lexus IS 200t is sporty entry-level luxury offering

Dec 01, 2017 Hit: 290 Written by 
The Lexus IS 200t offers a unique look in the class of compact luxury sedans.
The Lexus IS 200t offers a unique look in the class of compact luxury sedans. Photo courtesy of Lexus

Those considering their first foray into the world of luxury cars have a cornucopia of impressive options at the entry level -- with notables including the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3-series and the Cadillac ATS. But there’s one entry from the Asian market that should also not be overlooked -- the Lexus IS.

I recently spent some time in a 2017 Lexus IS 200t, and I’m back with a full report on how it compares in this heavyweight segment.


One thing I can tell you with certainty: You won’t confuse the look of the Lexus IS with any of its competitors. Lexus’ bold front grille design is one of the most recognizable in the auto industry, and the brand has done a great job distinguish its look from the European models. It’s not trying to blend in, and that’s a good thing.

Is it a beautiful design? That’s up for debate. It won’t be to everyone, that’s for sure, and some people may downright dislike it. But no one will say Lexus is trying to follow the crowd. I’ve always been a fan of originality.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Lexus IS 200t
  • Price as tested:: $45,324 (base price is $37,825)
  • Best feature:: Unique look, well-designed interior, responsive ride
  • Rating:: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Those in search of a fun entry-level compact luxury sedan

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.


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.


====== can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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