Lexus unveiled Monday a new generation of its IS small sedan on Monday. This particular IS is boasting sharper looks than its predecessor with new infotainment technology and a chassis honed on the track.
The headlights are lower and larger, too. The 2021 IS ditches the previous model’s split headlight fixture – with the main beam up top and the accenting LED “swoosh” beneath it – for a more traditional setup with the LED accent now embedded within the housing. Triple-beam LED headlights are available as an option.
The new Lexus IS also gets a more sculpted profile with a muscular shoulder line that extends up and over the rear wheel wells. The wheels are new, too, with the 2021 IS F Sport rocking optional 19-inch BBS wheels for the first time while 18-inch wheels are now standard on lower trims. The backend of the IS, meanwhile, gets a full-width LED taillight bar that forms seamlessly into angular fixtures on either side. The company previewed that new rear design earlier in the month in a teaser image.
In terms of size, the 2021 IS is slightly larger than its predecessor as it measures 1.18 inches (30 mm) longer, 1.18 inches (30 mm) wider and 0.19 inches (5 mm) taller than before. The only dimension that doesn’t change is the car’s wheelbase of 110.2 inches (2,800 mm).
The model also gains a newly available 10.3-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility as well as Amazon Alexa integration. The larger display is included on vehicles equipped with the navigation package and it can be paired with the upgraded Mark Levinson premium audio system which now boasts 17 speakers and 1,800 watts of power.
The 2021 Lexus IS uses the exact same engines as the previous model. And they each produce the same amount of power, too. The base IS 300 with rear-wheel drive keeps the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, good for 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. The all-wheel-drive IS 300, meanwhile, gets a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 good 260 hp and 236 lb-ft. And at the top of the range, the IS 350 – available in both RWD and AWD – gets a 3.5-liter V6 good for 311 hp and 280 lb-ft.
Both RWD models use an eight-speed automatic, while AWD versions of the new IS get a six-speed automatic. The IS 350 with RWD can hit 60 miles per hour in just 5.6 seconds, while the AWD IS 350 gets there in 5.7 seconds. And now buyers will have to upgrade to the 350 model if they want the F Sport trim; Lexus isn’t offering an IS 300 F Sport with this new model.
Also, the 2021 IS comes nicely equipped with power front seats that are trimmed NuLuxe upholstery. Buyers will also find a dual-zone automatic climate control system and a SmartAccess system with a push button ignition.
On the safety front, the 2021 IS benefits from an upgraded Lexus Safety System+. It features an improved camera and millimeter-wave radar that allows the car to better see bicyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles. The model also features an improved Lane Tracing Assist function.
Other safety features include a Pre-Collision System, Frontal Collision Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking. The model also has Emergency Steering Assist, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent High Beams, Road Sign Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a Blind Spot Monitor.