Cars

Is the Lexus IS F Worth Buying?

When the Lexus IS F debuted in 2008, it was quite the hit. Lexus was always known for soft, luxurious rides up until then so it was a bit of an anomaly to have a V8-clad version of the IS sedan with an eight-speed transmission and quad exhaust tips. The Lexus IS F has since come and gone and now you can get a pretty good deal on one in the used market, but is it worth buying?

Performance-minded beginnings

The Lexus IS F was the brainchild of Lexus engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi, who wanted to build a performance sedan that was not just about the performance numbers, but mainly appealed to the customer in terms of overall feel and emotion. In developing the IS F, Yaguchi and his team focused on making the car responsive, not just in the throttle feel, but also when it came to overall driver inputs. The car needed to respond well when turning, giving good steering feel and feedback through the suspension as well. The sound was important as well, hence the famed quad exhaust tips and meaty sound.

It turned out that Yaguchi’s efforts were not in vain as the IS F received good reviews during its time. Both Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book noted that the IS F was a thrill to drive and called out the vehicle’s responsiveness when it came to handling and braking. We can only imagine what it must be like to watch a car you created live up to its intended potential.

Luxurious power

The beauty of being born from a performance-minded engineering team is that the Lexus IS F’s stats were nothing to sneeze at. The 5.0-liter V8 engine produced 416 horsepower and 371 lb-ft of torque and was mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The highlight of the transmission was that it was able to produce “100-millisecond upshifts and automatic downshifts,” according to Lexus, which rivaled just about every automatic-manual at the time. This powertrain combination routed power through the rear wheels and was good for a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13.2 seconds.

The only noted downsides were that the suspension proved a little rough on normal roads and the large Brembo brakes tend to squeak. That’s typically pretty normal for racing brake applications, although maintenance can be costly.

Reliability

As you might expect, the Lexus IS F holds up to its Toyota-derived nature and has proven to be reliable as a used car. Many consumer reviews on Cars.com rate the IS F at 5 out of 5-star rating in all of the categories and Carcomplaints.com only lists one issue with the IS F, that being “sticking door panels.” That’s hardly a mechanical issue.

Utilizing Edmunds’ True Cost of Ownership tool, we can see that the estimated repair cost over a 5-year term is about $3,500, which is not bad considering it’s a sporty luxury car. In comparison, a BMW M3 of the same vintage has a proposed repair cost of $9,698, almost three times as much as the IS F!

Is it worth buying?

When the Lexus IS F was new, it carried a price tag of about $60,000. On the current used market, you can find one anywhere between $20,000 – $35,000 depending on the year, mileage and location. Do we think it’s worth it? Yes, definitely. If you can find one in great shape, you probably won’t have to worry too much about maintenance or repairs and will have yourself a race-bred family hauler.