Used Lexus IS Review (2013-present) MK3

Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force

4-minute read

Silver Lexus IS Exterior Front Driving

Lexus IS (2013-present)

The Lexus IS is an executive car that's extremely reliable and built to the highest of standards, making it a top choice on the used market

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  • Very comfortable
  • Hard to beat build quality
  • Loads of tech as standard
  • On the pricier side
  • Looks aren't to all tastes
  • Not the most dynamic to drive
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What's the Lexus IS like?

The third generation Lexus IS was introduced in 2013, and is available with two straight petrol engines. However, these have sold in tiny numbers and so as a used buy, the mainstay of the range is the 220bhp 2.5-litre 300h petrol/electric hybrid.

With low emissions of 97g/km and real economy of 44mpg in varied driving, it’s an executive saloon with much to recommend.

Other plus points are that Lexus cars have a great reputation for build quality, and since the company is the luxury arm of Toyota, reliability is second to none.

The main plus point for many owners, however, is that it’s a bit different and stands out from the crowd of BMW and Audi cars in the executive car park.

Driving Modes

Drive is to the rear wheels via a continuously variable (CVT) automatic gearbox and this comes with a number of different modes selectable by the driver.

The power output sounds very good, but acceleration is more linear than shove in the back and that suits the car’s ethos of long distance cruising refinement.

The Lexus Drive Mode Select system gives a choice of Eco, Normal, Sport, or Sport+ configurations that alter the response of the engine and the gearbox.

In Normal mode, the management system chooses between petrol or electric power, or a combination of the two, and Eco tones things down a little using more electric power as long as there's charge in the battery pack.

Sport and Sport+ sharpen everything up for best performance, using both petrol and electric power and change the digital dash power meter to a tachometer.

There's an EV mode that runs on electric power alone and uses the electric motor exclusively until the battery runs out. This only works for very limited mileage, though.

Snow setting is also available to give better traction in slippery conditions and a manual setting, with paddles behind the steering wheel to make the changes, when the CVT gearbox converts to a series of computer controlled steps.

Driving Experience

The Lexus IS is a hugely quiet and refined cruiser, and the engine is only audible when you put your foot down.

Earlier models have rather inert steering, but it's much better in later versions, with more cornering feel adding to driving enjoyment.

The handling is safe and neutral with good balance, and it holds the road very well.
Peter Hayward

Comfort is excellent over pretty much all surfaces and was further improved in 2017 with a raft of other changes.


Trim levels originally started with SE, Luxury, F Sport, and Premier, and the Executive Edition was added above SE in 2014, including full leather, sat nav, and 17-inch alloys.

Advance trim was added in 2015 with items from the Luxury spec like leather upholstery and heated and ventilated front seats, and a facelifted range was introduced for 2017.

This brought improvements to suspension and steering, a modified front end, LED headlights in some models, and up-rated multimedia.

The IS' 'gatemouth' grille isn't to all tastes, but it's all about personal preference as there are many who do like it.

Rear legroom and boot are both a good size and all have a split folding rear seat to get longer items in. The dash has high-tech displays and there are top quality materials throughout.

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If you're in the used market for an executive car that's well-built, highly reliable, and very comfortable, then the Lexus IS is definitely worth considering. Coming with a spacious interior space and plenty of equipment as standard, the IS definitely gives fans of more popular German rivals something to think about.