The 2021 Lexus IS compact sedan gets an updated look, a stiffer suspension, and a streamlined model lineup that cuts the price on top F Sport models, Lexus announced Wednesday.
Even though the powertrains haven't changed, they are the source of the biggest change when it comes to pricing. Three powertrains are still offered on the 2021 Lexus IS, but the trim levels have been cut in half from eight to four. The base engine in the IS 300 is still a 241-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4, but it only comes in rear-wheel drive. The price of the IS 300 RWD increases $440 to $40,025, including a $1,025 destination fee.
Last year, the turbo-4 could be paired with the racy F Sport trim, but Lexus streamlined F Sport models for 2021 to come only with the top 311-hp 3.5-liter V-6. Those IS 350 models get a significant price drop of $2,475 in rear-wheel drive to $43,925, and an $1,810 drop with all-wheel drive to $45,925.
That leaves the odd duck 260-hp 3.5-liter V-6 in the IS 300 with all-wheel drive. The 2021 IS 300 AWD costs $42,025, which represents a drop of $10. Yes, ten dollars.
The IS 300 has been a popular entry point into the Lexus brand, and all-wheel drive is also popular. But a $3,900 price jump from the IS 300 AWD to the IS 350 would not be so popular, Lexus spokesman Joshua Burns suggested, so the 260-hp V-6 is still on the table. The 2021 Lexus IS competes with other entry-level luxury compact sedans such as the 2020 Genesis G70, 2020 Cadillac CT4, and 2020 Volvo S60.
Part of the reason for the cut in price on the F Sport is performance features that were standard are now packaged as a standalone Dynamic Handling Package (DHP). That package includes an adaptive suspension, black 19-inch alloy BBS wheels, and a carbon-fiber rear spoiler. The F Sport with DHP also gets a Torsen limited-slip differential and selectable Sport S and Sport S+ drive modes. DHP is $3,800 on the IS 350 RWD and $4,200 with all-wheel drive.
Shoppers will still get the larger V-6 at a similar price point as the smaller V-6 from last year, and have the appearance elements of the F Sport trim such as 19-inch black wheels, larger rear tires, distinct front and rear bumpers, a black grille surround, a rear spoiler, and rocker moldings, plus all the badging. Inside, F Sport has upgraded front seats, more-colorful accent options, a distinct instrument cluster, F Sport pedals, and enhanced engine noise.
The 2021 Lexus IS features an 8.0-inch touchscreen mounted closer to the driver, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with Amazon Alexa integration, and a slew of safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control down with stop-and-go capability, active lane control, automatic high beams, and traffic-sign recognition.
The 2021 Lexus IS arrives in dealerships in October.