How to Choose the Best Lexus IS Trim to Buy In 2023

The 2023 Lexus IS is a solid contender in the entry-level luxury car market. Competing with cars like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac CT5, and Mercedes Benz C-Class, it offers excellent reliability and impressive safety ratings.

For 2023 the IS 350 F Sport receives a new handling package with an adaptive variable suspension. Other models in the IS lineup include the base level IS 300 and the IS 500 F Sport with its fire-breathing V8. Most models offer a choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and are available with either a six-speed or eight-speed automatic. There’s an IS model for just about every buyer in the small luxury sedan market 

2023 Lexus IS 300  

Lexus logo, maker of the 2023 Lexus IS models.
Lexus logo | Getty Images

Base Price: $40,585 for RWD or $42,585 for AWD

The IS 300 comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 241 hp and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It provides reasonable fuel economy, 21 mpg city, and up to 31 mpg on the highway. A naturally aspirated 260-hp V6 is optional and comes as part of the all-wheel drive package.   

Lexus’ Safety System+ 2.5 suite is standard on all IS models. It provides a comprehensive list of driver safety features, including pedestrian and bicycle detection, forward collision warning with low-speed automatic emergency braking, and lane departure with steering assist. The steering assist pairs with the adaptive cruise control and provides a lane-tracing feature. Road Sign Assist works with the automatic bi-LED headlights to pick up relevant road signs and displays them in the instrument cluster. This feature is handy in low visibility conditions, providing information on stop signs, intersections, and the road’s posted speed limit. 

2023 Lexus IS 350 F Sport Design

Base Price: $43,660 for RWD or $45,660 for AWD

Drivers looking for more performance can upgrade to the IS 350 F Sport Design. Available in either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations, it’s equipped with an upgraded version of the IS 300’s V6 producing 300 hp. Its comfortable yet sporty demeanor is a good compromise between the base IS 300 and the more hard-core performance IS 350 F Sport and IS 500 F Sport Performance. 

The F Sport Design package adds the F Sport’s more aggressive body kit, including front facia, rear spoiler and exhaust tips, and F-Sport tuned suspension. Split 5-spoke 19-inch wheels complete the look, and an optional power moonroof is available. 

2023 Lexus IS 350 F Sport

Base Price: $44,910 for RWD or $46,910

The F Sport includes a revised instrument cluster inspired by the LFA supercar with a unified tachometer and digital speedometer. Black Geometric interior trim replaces the base trim and consists of a heated F Sport leather-trimmed steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats. The driver gets a 10-way power seat and aluminum pedals.  

Under the hood, the V6 finds some additional power and a throatier sound thanks to a cold air intake and F Sport exhaust. The new F Sport Handling Package adds enhanced drive modes, including Normal, Sport S, Sport S+, and Custom. To make the most of these performance enhancements, a Torsen limited-slip rear differential helps maximize traction.  

2023 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance

Base Price: $58,270

At the top of the lineup is the IS 500 F Sport. It goes full beast-bode with a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8, a rarity as most luxury and performance cars have moved on to smaller-displacement turbocharged engines. But few engines can match the sonorous roar of this 472-hp V8.  

Also included is an adaptive suspension with high-performance Yamaha rear shock absorbers, 2-piece aluminum brake rotors, stacked quad exhaust tips, and 19-inch Enkei alloy wheels. The combination of the more aggressive exterior and raucous V8 transforms the IS, taking an assertive, highly capable sedan and turning it into something raw and feral. And if that’s not enough, you can order it in Molten Pearl, a color that matches the IS 500’s untamed personality.  

Which Trim Level Is The Best? 

Car & Driver admitted to being intrigued by the IS 500 but recommends the mid-range IS 350 F Sport. It offers the best combination of features, performance, price, and is available with features like unique 19-inch wheels, the F Sport exhaust, and the Dynamic handling package.    

Per Car & Driver, Autotrader also recommends the IS 350 F Sport, with the IS 300 a close runner-up. The company likes the availability of all-wheel drive on those two models and likes the mix of features. The IS 350 offers more than enough performance for most people and is the best all-around choice. However, if you want one of the last small performance sedans with a naturally aspirated V8 and like the intoxicating mix of speed and sound, the IS 500 is a great car. 

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