2023 Lexus IS 500 First Drive: Loud, Luxurious, and Lightning-Fast
The 2023 Lexus IS sedan is the brand’s entry-level offering and one of the cheapest ways to get into a luxury sedan. That is, however, if you pick the base IS 300 model, which comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and meets your basic opulent needs. It’s a good car, but if you want more power and everything the IS sedan offers, the IS 500 is the way to go.
The Lexus IS 500 is the spiritual successor to the IS F, a brawnier version of the base IS sedan offered in 2008. Staying true to form, this new IS 500 offers more tech-savvy features than the IS F that came before it and a large V8 engine.
I had the pleasure of driving the 2023 Lexus IS 500 this week, and so far, I have found that it’s luxurious, loud, and lightning-fast.
The 2023 Lexus IS 500 is powered by one of the last true V8 engines
Let’s get to the heart of the matter first – the engine. The 2023 Lexus IS 500 F Sport I’m driving is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine that generates 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. If you’re not keen on performance specs, that’s enough power to propel the 3891-pound car up to 60 mph from a standstill in around 4.4 seconds, according to Lexus.
On the road, it feels as quick as those numbers sound, if not more so. Stab the accelerator, and the engine roars with a loud, booming exhaust note. The tachometer quickly sweeps to the redline as the eight-speed automatic transmission works its magic through the powerband.
It’s easy to get up to speed in this thing, and no one outside the car would even know the difference between this and the base-model IS luxury sedan. That means it’s a sleeper to the outside world as long as you can keep your right foot in check.
The Lexus IS 500 handles well, too, despite its hefty size. Its rear-drive configuration makes accelerating out of corners a breeze, and the 19-inch matte-black BBS wheels wrapped in Summer tires make the car stick to the road.
The Lexus IS 500 is still a luxury sedan
The Lexus IS 500’s performance prowess doesn’t detract from its interior lavishness. The IS 500’s cabin is filled with NuLuxe leather upholstery and soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels.
It’s filled with a lot of tech-savvy features as well. Some of my favorites include the 10.3-inch infotainment system that is touch or touchpad-activated, the heated/ventilated front seats, and the 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
My only gripe is that although the IS 500’s interior can fit five people in it, the space feels a little cramped, even for the front-seat occupants.
Is the Lexus IS 500 worth the extra performance over the base model?
Yes, the 2023 Lexus IS 500 is worth the extra cash over the base IS 300. You’ll pay around $15,000 to $20,000 more for all of the features, tech, and V8 engine, but it’s worth the jump if you can afford it.
The Lexus IS sedan may be a gateway to luxury for some buyers, but the IS 500 kicks things up a notch with its impressive performance and loaded cabin.