Is the 2021 Lexus IS or BMW 3 Series the Better Choice For Getting There Fast?
Editor’s note: This article was updated on 6/13/2023.
Lexus and BMW fans are similar in many ways, much like the Lexus IS and the BMW 3 series. The IS has captured drivers’ hearts for many years, but the 3 Series has a following that cannot be duplicated. When it comes to going fast, which car wins the race?
What’s the price difference between the BMW 3 Series and the Lexus IS?
Edmunds says 2021 Lexus IS will start at $39,000 for the base model, while the BMW 330i starts at $41,000. The IS350 F-Sport is going to land around $44,000 for the all-wheel drive model. The M340i model is around $54,700.
For the base IS, you’re going to get just over 240 hp from the turbo inline-4 engine. The 330i gets you 255 hp from a similar 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder. So you are paying more but also getting marginally higher power straight off the line.
Jumping up to the IS 350 F-Sport, the V6 offers 311 hp with an eight-speed direct-shift transmission on the rear-wheel drive option. It has five different modes for whatever situation you might encounter, like the M340i. The M340i offers 382 hp and a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds from the new 48V mild-hybrid technology 3.0-liter M TwinPower Turbo engine. It might cost more, but it definitely gets a nice return on power.
What makes one luxury sports sedan better than the other?
While both of these options are dubbed luxury sports sedans, you won’t often find a fan of both the IS and the 3 series. The BMW M340i will get an average of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway. The Lexus gets a mildly disappointing 21 miles in the city and 31 on the highway. For the added performance, it is unexpected the BMW would get such mileage.
In addition to that, the Lexus design is pretty old. This version was first released back in 2013 and hasn’t had much of a facelift since. The BMW received a hefty redesign a few years back, and it looks like it. You could get the IS and upgrade it for the price, or you could shell out the cash for the M version of the 3 Series.
Is Lexus better than BMW?
When it comes down to it, the Lexus seems to have more safety features than the BMW. Standard on the IS is the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure assist, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, and intelligent high beams that trace the road ahead.
On the 3 Series, none of these features are standard. Anti-lock brakes, adaptive brake lights, anti-theft alarm systems, and automatic high beams are included, among many other options. These options, however, are fairly basic in comparison.
Car and Driver rates the IS a 7.5/10, taking off points for a cramped backseat and lack of power. The BMW 3 Series received a 9.5/10 for “first-rate powertrains, brilliant ride and handling balance, generous cabin, and trunk space.” Fair enough. In conclusion, the BMW looks better but costs more. The Lexus might be safer but slower. It will cost you less but will also probably get beaten off the line by the 3 Series. You’ll get more miles per gallon in the 3 Series, too. So if you are trying to get there faster, stick with the 3 Series.