The updated sports sedan is back in the form of the IS300 and IS350 and will reach dealers this fall.
- The 2021 Lexus IS got a redesign and an eye-catching chassis upgrade in both the F Sport and non-F Sport models.
- With an optional 10.3-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities now come in sedans, and rear-wheel drive models and all are offered.
- The IS300 and IS350 will reach dealers by the end of this fall.
It’s not easy to stand out in the ultra-competitive compact luxury sports sedan segment: automakers on three continents all continue to compete for a limited group of international buyers. With several major updates to the Lexus IS since 2013, Toyota’s luxury division is back touting with the 2021 IS.
The new IS makes its presence known for its sleek and updated look that supports the sporty aspirations of the sedan. The standard IS, the IS300, gets a bigger, more charming gril, equipped with sharp and aggressive headlights. The Model F Sport gets similar updates, but without chrome; The simpler, darker front design looks good for our eyes.
For 2021, the F Sport trim is only available on top IS350 models with a 311 hp 3.5-liter V-6. Engine and drive configuration options instead carried on, with the IS300 rear-wheel drive coming with a 2.0-litre turbocharged 241 hp four-cylinder engine, the IS300 all-wheel-drive coming with a 260-hp version of the 3.5-liter V-6, and the RWD or AWD IS350 coming with a higher output version of the V-6.
In addition to the display changes in the F Sport, performance trim now comes standard with a choice of two different 19-inch wheels, an updated exhaust, and a new interior color circuit red. F Sport now also offers dynamic handling packages with adaptive dampers and other chassis enhancements.
While the new IS uses the same wheelbase as the previous model, it adds more than an inch in height and width for 2021. Lexus said the 2021 IS body is stiffer, which it says can improve steering response, and other tweaks include unsprung weight reduction and some suspension tuning changes.
IS 2021 also sees technology updates, including the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities with an updated 10.3-inch infotainment screen (optional). The standard infotainment screen is now 8.0 inches, an inch larger than the previous year’s model. Both infotaining systems are now touch screens. Driver assistance systems have also been improved, with improved capabilities for automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection technology. Adaptive roaming controls can now adjust speed based on installed speed limits, and blind spot monitoring is the new standard.
After peaking in 2007, Lexus IS sales in the US peaked in 2014, the year after the total overhaul of the sedan, when 51,358 were sold. Since then, sales have dropped dramatically, with only 22,927 sold in 2018 and 14,920 in 2019. With Germany, Italy, America, Korea, and other car brands showing no signs of giving up on this segment, a redesign is needed, but still. to see if this update will be enough to regain lost market share.