Used Lexus IS Saloon 2005 - 2013 review

Category: Executive car

A fine car, but spoilt by the unsettled ride and noise

Lexus IS Saloon (05 - 13)
  • Lexus IS Saloon (05 - 13)
  • Lexus IS Saloon (05 - 13)
Used Lexus IS Saloon 2005 - 2013 review
Star rating

What's the used Lexus IS saloon like?

Lexus listened to criticisms of the previous IS and set out to address them in this model. And, for the most part, it has been successful: this is a great-looking car with much stronger engines than before. The 2.5-litre V6 has performance on a par with swifter models in the BMW 3-Series range, while the quiet 2.2 turbodiesel has plenty of go, too.

However, the IS is still let down by steering that has neither the feel nor the accuracy of the 3 Series'. True enough, the IS grips well through corners, but its over-firm ride can't find a comfortable balance in town or on the motorway.


A fine car, but spoilt by the unsettled ride and noise

  • The IS is superbly built and well specified, and performs well
  • The steering is dull, the ride is unsettled
  • and too much road noise can be heard

On the oter hand, the cabin is a fine place to be, with loads of standard equipment and safety kit. We think the dash is a little fussy and space in the back could be more generous, but there's no doubting the build quality.

Ownership cost

What used Lexus IS saloon will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Lexus IS saloon?

The IS represents excellent value for money, thanks to all of the standard equipment. And, it won't be too expensive to run, either. The petrol engine is a sound bet as it manages to return a decent 28.8mpg, but the diesel version is even easier on the wallet.

Insurance costs, too, are reasonable for a compact executive as the petrol IS250 sits in group 13 and the diesel IS220 in 12.

Lexus dealers' servicing costs may be higher than many more mainstream manufacturers', but labour rates undercut BMW's and Mercedes' by some margin, according to Warranty Direct. There are not many independent Lexus specialists out there, but if you can find one this will reduce your service bills even further.

One thing that might bump up running costs compared to rivals are the 10,000-mile service intervals. Rivals have longer periods between scheduled stops.

Our recommendations

Which used Lexus IS saloon should I buy?

Engine-wise, there's a straight choice between the 2.5-litre V6 petrol and the 2.2 turbodiesel. And, our vote goes to the punchy, swift petrol engine, not only for its performance but also for its superb refinement. However, the diesel's by no means bad, one of the most powerful in its segment and returning a fine 44.8mpg combined economy.

You can also find IS models with an automatic gearbox in place of the six-speed manual, but we'd stick with the manual.

Whichever engine you prefer, there are four trim levels, starting with the basic IS. This is anything but basic, though, coming with cruise and climate controls, CD autochanger, and alloy wheels.

Our favourite SE trim ups the size of the alloys and adds electrically adjustable leather seats, while the SE-L goes even further on the electric gadget count. Finally, Sport models have a subtly aggressive body kit and firmer suspension.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Lexus IS saloon?