2023 Lexus Is 500 Review – 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Rating: F In Conversation The IS 500 F Sport deserves some respect as the last of its kind.
If you’re looking for an honest-to-goodness rear-wheel drive naturally aspirated V8, you’re in luck. Only a few vehicles still have the flare, and most come with two-door and/or six-figure price tags, putting them out of reach for the average consumer.
2023 Lexus Is 500 Review
The 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sports Performance keeps the dream alive, at least temporarily, with the brand’s iconic 5.0-liter V8 under the hood. This performance sedan packs 472 horsepower and rear-wheel drive, along with a sweet, sweet soundtrack, all for a reasonable asking price of $57,570.
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But as natural as the V8 seems, this car would be great with more aggressive suspension and steering tuning. It’s not the hard-core IS F you might expect, but the IS 500 F Sport does enough to keep the essence of a sports sedan alive. And it could very well be the last time we see such a car.
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Unlike the original IS F or even the newer GS F, there is little on the exterior of the IS 500 F Sport Performance that says this car has a V8. Sure enough, the new 19-inch Enkei wheels are silver and spear-colored, the grille has a sharper diamond design, there’s a sharp hood, and the iconic stacked square tailpipes are back. But that’s it for the visual update; it’s basically an IS 350 with some tweaks.
Some people love the “sleepy” appeal of this sedan – and at its heart, the Lexus IS is still a very attractive vehicle. But I prefer the chunky screens and dramatic curves of previous Lexus F models. At least the car’s IR paint ($595) is impressive, and the aforementioned 19-inch wheels come standard on this IS, giving it a nice stance.
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The cabin is quite themed. There are complimentary “F Sport” badges on the door sills, sewn into the headrests of the sports seats. Otherwise, the IS 500 F Sport wears an innocent but not aggressive black and white synthetic leather with a unique geometric pattern on the door panels. Or you can kill the cockpit with faux black. Lexus limits the more interesting red decoration to a specific exterior, so unfortunately you can’t go for red-red.
For a compact sedan with a big V8, the Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance is surprisingly classy. Like the other IS trims, this variant has a sublime ride, good damping and a whisper-quiet cabin – apart from some new engine noise. The suspension soaks up imperfect pavement and glides along highways, and while there’s some stiffness thanks to the 19-inch wheels, it’s hardly noticeable on the standard model.
The improved front buckets of the IS 500 are extremely comfortable; there’s plenty of padding, great cushioning, and tons of adjustability. Couple that with the largest legroom in the class, and the front compartment is a great place to sit. In the second row, however, there is a small opening at the back, which makes it difficult to get in and out, and a narrow compartment. At least the rear bench is almost as cushioned as the front buckets, but it’s still too firm a place to sit for long periods of time.
The Lexus IS also has the worst cargo space in its class. Its 10.8 cubic feet is nearly a full cubic foot less than the first-worst Cadillac and nearly seven cubic feet worse than the BMW M340i.
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The dreaded Lexus touch screen is also carried over to the IS 500. The Premium trim handles the optional 10.3-inch touchscreen instead of the standard 8.0-inch screen. But even with the larger screen, the infotainment isn’t much easier to use. The touchpad is clunky and makes navigation difficult; you’re better off touching the 10.3-inch screen, which Lexus has moved closer to the driver this generation.
Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard on both screens, as is Amazon Alexa compatibility, and the screen offers more navigation. Navigation is not fully available on the base F Sport Performance and is a $2,750 option on other IS trims. But the built-in Lexus Entune interface isn’t the best, with low-resolution graphics and a clunky home screen.
The welcome premium package includes an improved sound system. The Premium IS 500 features a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system that sounds crystal clear with great bass.
Of course, the big selling point of this car is the V8. Lexus’ iconic 5.0-liter engine makes its way to the IS for the first time since the original IS F, with 472 horsepower and 395 lb-ft—the same as the RC F. The IS 500 gets a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive only.
Lexus Is 500 F Sport Review
As expected, this engine doesn’t have much thrust. Without the volume boost of a similar turbocharged unit, the IS 500 hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. It’s a bit slower than almost every other option outside of Caddy.
Here’s the good news, though: this bike is still very attractive on the limit. With 7,300 rpm and 4,800 max torque, you basically have to keep your feet seated for maximum grip. When you do, you’re rewarded with freight-train-like acceleration and an acoustic note from the angular exhaust tips. Yes, the Lexus pumps some of the sound through the speakers, but who cares? That’s great.
But aside from that beautiful V8, bigger disc brakes and mild boost, it’s basically an IS 350 with a V8. The same limited-slip differential and Bridgestone Potenza S001 tires carry over from the 350 F Sport, while the eight-speed transmission remains intact. That said, this IS isn’t as sharp as a similar Audi or BMW, which get more significant updates.
My biggest gripe is that the IS 500’s suspension is too soft for sharp corners. Although the structural rigidity of this car has improved, there is still significant body roll. Governance has not improved much either; serious but not as communicative as I would like.
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That unmodified eight-speed automatic is perfect around town, the problem is that it gets sloppy at higher speeds. Unless you’re fiddling with the paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel, the transmission can feel erratic and a bit slow when turning the car.
Like most Lexus models, the IS 500 F Sport is equipped with active safety equipment. Safety System+ 2.5 includes automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and emergency steering assist, as well as adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assist and lane centering.
The IS 500 is an excellent highway cruiser. The active safety systems keep the car perfectly in the lane and perform gentle braking and acceleration as needed. It’s not a manual system, but you can easily rest your hands on the steering wheel without much effort.
The IS 500 was not tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS, but both the IS 300 and 350 received high marks. The government gives it a five-star crash rating, and the nonprofit agency calls it High Safety Pick+.
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As the only V8 option in the class, don’t expect impressive fuel economy figures from this Lexus. The IS 500 F Sport gets just 17 miles per gallon city, 25 highway and 20 combined, putting it at the bottom. The BMW M340i mild hybrid is the most efficient of the group, returning up to 26 mpg.
The Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance starts at $57,575, including $1,075 destination, making it the most expensive option in the competition lineup (just a few dollars above the most expensive Mercedes). Opting for the premium model – like the one tested here – costs $62,075, but at least this model is well equipped.
The only factory option on this premium model is the $595 infrared paint, bringing the final asking price to $62,670. Next to Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0, infrared is the most expensive color. Otherwise, the larger touchscreen, better sound system and built-in navigation are all standard equipment on the Premium.
The IS 500 F Sport Premium is competitively priced and feels worth what the company is charging for it. Well-equipped versions of the $65,000 Audi, BMW and Cadillac flagships, as well as the loaded Mercedes-AMG C43, are the most expensive of the bunch. However, Lexus has a big advantage over its rivals: the V8.
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While it might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, the IS 500 F Sport Performance is still pretty damn cool with its old-school features: big V8, rear-wheel drive and raspy exhaust note. A few more tweaks here and there and it could be the car
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