2017 Lexus IS 200t Review: Sharper Image

– Cleveland, Ohio

The Lexus IS 200t stands out among today’s crop of compact luxury sport sedans with severely extroverted styling. Love or hate this car’s looks, it won’t be ignored, and the optional F Sport package on this IS 200t RWD model is like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence written in caps. Leading with its looks, though, is the IS 200t’s best chance at bedding down in your garage. That’s because it’s on the small side, its ride is one-dimensional, and its base engine doesn’t live up to the promise of its aggressive appearance. Go for it if you love the looks, but just be aware of everything else you are – and aren’t – getting.




Well-behaved engine. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the IS 200t isn’t a powerhouse, with only 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, but it’s barely behind the V6 offered in the more expensive IS 300 (255 hp/236 lb-ft) and is among the best in terms of refinement. Even when you floor it, the four-cylinder never raises a raspy voice or starts shaking between the shock towers.

Standout design. Any comment on design has to be qualified as only an opinion, but I opine that Lexus and its Nike “swoosh” design language look sharp on this compact sedan. It doesn’t succeed on every vehicle type (have you seen a Lexus SUV lately?), but it works here. I could take or leave the F Sport package that costs an extra $3,545 and adds a spindle grille, new front bumper, and special 18-inch wheels; even without tha...