2016 Lexus IS 200t F Sport Review

Lexus' IS 200t is a worthy challenger to other premium sports sedans

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September 1, 2016

2016 Lexus IS 200t F Sport Review

Driving Experience

The Lexus IS 200t F Sport is a car that's truly fun to drive at any speed and on any road. Turn in is crisp and precise and you can really feel the road. While the 2.0-liter turbo would benefit from a few extra horses, the power output right now still lets you enjoy yourself. This is a sports sedan the average Joe can really enjoy and drive pretty hard without getting into too much trouble.

Ride Quality: The IS 200t's ride is on the sportier side thanks to the F Sport tuned suspension, but it's not uncomfortable or jarring over bumps.

Acceleration: There's some turbo lag, but the car is still surprisingly quick. It's not freaky fast, but plenty quick enough for almost every normal driving situation.

Braking: Pedal feel is good and the brakes are strong and progressive.

Steering: Some of the best steering out there for the money. It's well-weighted, provides good road feel and is crisp and precise. You can easily point and shoot the car wherever you want to go.

Handling: The car corners pretty flat and feels very tight and responsive in the corners. We did notice a little understeer when pushed, but it wasn't debilitating.

2016 Lexus IS 200t Technology

The tech in the car is really the only thing we disliked. Well, more so the controls than the rest of the technology. Our tester came equipped with plenty of nice tech features, including Lexus Enform Safety Connect, HD Radio, Sirius XM, navigation, Mark Levinson audio system with 17 speakers, Lexus Enform with App Suite and more. While all the features were nice, accessing them was difficult due to the weird mouse-like controls.

Infotainment System:Packed with features and apps. The infotainment system has a sizeable 8-inch screen well-placed on the dash. The operating system functions smoothly and offers a wide variety of features.

Controls: Lexus should get rid of its weird mouse-like infotainment systems and go with a dial/joystick system like Mazda, BMW and Mercedes have. The mouse controls take a long time to get used to. Even when you are used to them, you have to really look at what you're doing. This takes your eyes off the road.

Bluetooth Pairing: Pairing was quick and easy, though we did experience some connection issues when trying to play music through our phone. Reconnecting upon re-entry was seamless.

Voice Call Quality: Calls were crisp and clear and during the few calls we took we experienced no connectivity issues.

2016 Lexus IS 200t Styling

The Lexus IS is eye catching. The company's brand styling comes across well in this car. The big spindle grille, the angles and curves all work together to make a vehicle that looks cohesive and attractive. It looks exactly like you'd expect a little sports sedan from Lexus to look. The company has added just the right amount of styling features to the outside of this car. It's not overdone or derivative and just feels very post 2014 Lexus.

Front: The large spindle grille dominates the front of the car. The next feature you notice are the almost Nike swoosh LED running lights, then the rather small headlights and the F Sport front bumper. Everything works together to make an aggressive and sporty-looking front end.

Rear: The rear is just as well put together with lines reaching up from the rear wheels that blend in with the taillights and work nicely to accentuate the almost abrupt angle on the trunk lid.

Profile: In profile, you see the curves and creases down the car's side and up and around the rear fender. Also, the 18-inch F Sport wheels add a nice visual element.

Cabin: Lexus tried hard to make the interior of the car look as nice as the exterior. The interior has a kind of sporty contemporary look that's handsome but not exactly luxurious. Lexus used high-quality materials but went for a sportier driver-focused interior.

2016 Lexus IS 200t Comfort

While the interior may not be an example of high luxury, it is still very nice. Much of it features high-quality leather and there's plenty of adjustments and room inside the IS 200t to make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Front Seats: Well-padded and bolstered with plenty of legroom. The NuLuxe faux leather is actually pretty comfortable and attractive, though real leather would be preferable.

Rear Seats: The rear seats also feature plenty of room and similar comfort levels to the front. There's plenty of room for adults in the back seat, which is nice for a smaller sedan.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Lexus feels pretty solid and is quiet, with only tire and turbo noise making it into the cabin.

Visibility: Front, rear and side visibility is good in the IS. Blind spots are relatively small and the rear view camera and vehicle sensors make parking and maneuvering the car simple.

Climate: The climate controls are well laid out and easy to use, unlike the infotainment controls. The system does a wonderful job of quickly cooling or heating up the vehicle.

2016 Lexus IS 200t Safety

The IS has not yet been rated by the IIHS for safety. However, the NHTSA gave the vehicle 5 stars. For the frontal crash test, the car received four stars, five stars for the side crash test and five stars for the rollover test. Also, the car has a few safety alerts and sensors, making it even safer.

IIHS Rating: The IS has not yet been rated by the IIHS.

Standard Tech: 10 airbags, Lexus Enform Safety Connect

Optional Tech: Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert

2016 Lexus IS 200t Storage

Storage and cargo aren't the IS's strong suit, but it doesn't come up completely short. While storage inside the cabin isn't good at all, the 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk is nothing to sneeze at. Anything beyond your smartphone and a few pocket trinkets may need to go back in the trunk.

Storage Space: The IS has cup holders and a small storage compartment under the armrest. When we say small, we mean it. A smartphone will fit in there and not much else. Otherwise, you have door pockets and a glove box of reasonable size.

Cargo Room: As is listed above, the trunk is pretty spacious. Also, the rear seats fold down, allowing you to carry things that are longer than the standard trunk size.

2016 Lexus IS 200t Fuel Economy

Fuel economy for the IS 200T is much better than the outgoing 2.5-liter V6 that was in the IS 250. Still, as far as turbo four bangers go, it's not wildly impressive. The EPA estimates the IS is good for 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg highway.

Observed: We saw a combined fuel economy of 24 mpg.

Driving Factors: We drove the IS mostly in the city with a few short jaunts on the highway. We pushed the car a few times to see how it would respond.

2016 Lexus IS 200t Audio

The Mark Levinson audio system with 17 speakers works wonderfully, though there are better systems out there. We definitely recommend this system over the standard 8-speaker sound system. It provides good range and full-bodied surround sound.

Overall, the Lexus IS 200t is a very good sports sedan with a premium badge. It's not very luxurious, and it doesn't have intuitive infotainment controls, but beyond that there really isn't much to complain about. The car drives wonderfully and that's what a vehicle like this is supposed to be good at. If you can get past the odd controls and want something you'll enjoy driving every day, the IS 200t is a solid choice.

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