2022 Lexus IS

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2022
The Car Connection
2022
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
January 23, 2022

Buying tip

Skip the base IS 300; the IS 350 offers a lot more grunt for not that much more cash.

features & specs

IS 300 AWD
IS 300 RWD
IS 350 F SPORT AWD
MPG
19 city / 26 hwy
MPG
21 city / 31 hwy
MPG
19 city / 26 hwy
MSRP
$41,125
MSRP
$39,125
MSRP
$45,550

The 2022 Lexus IS got a whole lot more interesting this year with the addition of the right-priced IS 500.

What kind of vehicle is the 2022 Lexus IS? What does it compare to?

The Lexus IS is a compact luxury sedan with a decidedly high-performance bent. Shop it against the BMW 3-Series and Cadillac CT4.  

Is the 2022 Lexus IS a good car?

Review continues below

Overall, the IS lineup does a lot of things well—the new IS 500 more so. For most mainstream needs, though, rivals offer better interior space and a fresher overall feel. The IS rates a 6.2 out of 10 on the TCC Rating scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2022 Lexus IS?

The big news this year is the return of V-8 power in the form of the 472-hp IS 500, which is priced well under like-powered German competitors. 

The IS lineup comes only as a sedan, though the RC coupe is a closely-related sibling. All Is models were updated for 2021 with fresh styling outside and a better—but still not perfect—infotainment system. 

Base IS 300 models use either a 2.0-liter turbo-4 (in rear-wheel-drive form) or a 3.5-liter V-6 (with all-wheel drive). The two powertrains couldn’t be more different, with the 4-cylinder coming across a bit pokey and rough, and the V-6 delivering slick acceleration but heftier fuel consumption.

The more you spend, the better the power—and, oddly, the better the value. The IS 350 doesn’t cost that much more than an IS 300, and its 311-hp 3.5-liter V-6 offers impressive power that suits this balanced chassis well. Fuel economy isn’t great in any configuration aside from the base turbo-4, though. 

The IS has a fresh-looking cabin, as long as you’re sitting up front. Rear-seat riders have precious little room, especially in all-wheel-drive models. Trunk space is mediocre, too.

One upside is terrific crash-test scores and a wider array of standard crash-avoidance and driver-assistance tech than on nearly all rivals. 

How much does the 2022 Lexus IS cost?

A base IS 300 theoretically exists for under $40,000, though most buyers will find themselves looking at a bill closer to $50,000. The IS 500 tops $56,000. 

Where is the 2022 Lexus IS made?

In Japan.

6

2022 Lexus IS

Styling

The 2022 Lexus IS had all the right angles… a decade ago.

Is the Lexus IS a good-looking car?

All the creases that make a Lexus a Lexus are present on the 2022 IS, but this car looks too much like it did a decade ago even though it got a fairly major update last year. We give it a 6 out of 10.

Lexus’ familiar hourglass-style grille sticks around, flanked by narrow headlights with complex details. F Sport models go a bit further with sportier strakes and cut outs, mostly to good effect. Along its sides, the IS is anything but boring with its check mark-like crease. A thin ribbon of taillights at the rear completes the look. Base cars ride on bland wheels, so consider the upcharge for dressier rolling stock.

A new touchscreen added last year updates this interior, which has an appealingly low and wide dash. There are lots of buttons and knobs here, but controls are generally easy enough to sort through after some acclimation.

Don’t look for real leather; Lexus drapes this interior in hard-wearing synthetic hides. 

Review continues below
7

2022 Lexus IS

Performance

Base versions have poise and power; the IS 500 pulls a V-8 trump card.

Is the Lexus IS 4WD?

All-wheel drive is optional on the IS 300 and IS 350 for $2,000, but all IS 500 models are rear-wheel drive. 

How fast is the Lexus IS?

That depends on what badges are affixed to its tailgate. This is one complicated lineup.

Base IS 300 sedans with rear-wheel drive use a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 241 hp, but this engine lacks the refinement and the turbocharged rush we expect from a car of this price and with these sporting intentions.

All-wheel-drive IS 300s swap in a 3.5-liter V-6  rated at 260 hp, which is smoother and much quicker than that 19-hp bump would suggest. 

The IS 350 uses an uprated version of that V-6 with 311 hp that makes these cars properly peppy. For most drivers, the IS 350 is the model that makes the most sense. It’s not even that much more expensive.

Curiously, rear-drive versions use a 6-speed automatic regardless of engine, while all-wheel-drive models make use of a theoretically more sophisticated 8-speed. In practice, the 6-speed gearbox is smoother and fires off more predictable downshifts. 

All models ride well and offer good handling. IS 350 F Sport models look the part, but it takes adding an option package to net the adaptive dampers that really transform its handling—and improve its ride. Spend up.

Our 7 out of 10 score here rewards ride and handling rather than standard power. 

IS 500

The IS 500 uses a 5.0-liter V-8 rated at 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque, figures in line with BMW’s M4 but with a totally different kind of delivery since this big engine is naturally aspirated. Lexus quotes a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds. 

The IS 500 is at its best on a winding road with its revs held to around 3,000 rpm and the exhaust growling behind. Uprated brakes help tame the more powerful engine, which doesn’t weigh that much more than the V-6 and thus leaves handling unspoiled aside from hints of understeer when pushed. 

Review continues below
5

2022 Lexus IS

Comfort & Quality

The 2022 Lexus IS is comfortable up front, but has limited rear-seat and cargo space.

The 2022 Lexus IS won’t make a great family car. It’s well-appointed inside with convincing synthetic leather on the seats, but rear-seat space is almost comically tight. Well, it’s funny if you’re not back there.

We rate the 2022 IS at 5 out of 10 accordingly.

The car’s front seats are supportive and the view out is good. Materials are in line with pricing, even though leather seats are not available. 

Rear-seat riders will be just OK in rear-wheel-drive models. Those with all-wheel drive have to contend with a big driveshaft hump that carves out precious foot room. Rivals have valuable extra inches of leg room and few compromises. 

Trunk space is also a sore point at less than 11 cubic feet, but at least interior fit and finish rises above many of the IS’ rivals.

Review continues below
7

2022 Lexus IS

Safety

The 2022 Lexus IS has earned top safety ratings from the IIHS.

How safe is the Lexus IS?

It should be a safe choice, at least according to what tests have been performed so far.

Standard automatic emergency braking is complemented by adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors. Many of those features are optional on rivals. 

The IIHS says that the Lexus IS rates a Top Safety Pick+ thanks to terrific safety structure and crash-avoidance tech. The NHTSA has not yet completed testing, however, so for now we’re stuck with a 7 out of 10 score, though top marks from the feds could elevate the IS higher.

Review continues below
7

2022 Lexus IS

Features

The IS posts up with good infotainment and warranty coverage.

A good 4-year/50,000-mile warranty and comprehensive standard equipment bolster the Lexus IS. The updated infotainment system introduced a few years ago made a big difference, though Lexus still has a long way to go before its software and input controller match other luxury rivals. At least Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa are all included, and an optional 10.3-inch display opens up more real estate. 

Overall, the 2022 Lexus IS rates a 7 out of 10 on the TCC scale. 

Which Lexus IS should I buy?

A base IS 300 starts at around $40,000, or $2,000 more with all-wheel drive. The IS 350 comes with F Sport styling and the 3.5-liter V-6 for a little or $44,000, or another $2,000 with all-wheel drive. We think that’s money well spent.

Optional extras that may tempt include a sunroof, a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, and memory seats. The Sporty Dynamic Handling package adds adaptive dampers and a few luxury features for nearly $3,800.

How much is a fully loaded Lexus IS?

The new IS 500 costs a little under $58,000 to start, or $4,500 more in Premium Package guise with a 10.3-inch touchscreen, upgraded audio, and fancier LED headlights. 

Review continues below
5

2022 Lexus IS

Fuel Economy

The 2022 Lexus IS doesn’t offer thrifty performance.

Is the Lexus IS good on gas?

It’s not especially frugal. At 21 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined, the base IS 300 is a 5 out of 10 on our scale. 

Things go downhill from there. The all-wheel-drive version is rated at just 19/26/22 mpg regardless of engine. Rear-drive IS 350s are only marginally better.

The new IS 500 is predictably thirstier. The EPA says to expect just 20 mpg combined.

Review continues below
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$39,125
MSRP based on IS 300 RWD
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6.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 7
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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2022 Lexus IS Pricing Insights

  • 2022 Lexus IS available; 2021s sold out
  • Lease: From $449 per month for 30 months
  • Rebate: Up to $500 lease cash
  • Finance: From 2.99% APR for 60 months
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