2018 Lexus IS

2018 Lexus IS
2018 Lexus IS 1
2018 Lexus IS Central Console 1

2018 Lexus IS Review

by Gabe Beita Kiser

Within the Lexus lineup, the IS range of small luxury sedans can be considered entry-level family vehicles, available in two basic models: the IS 300 and IS 350, both of which are available as rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The RWD IS 300 is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, paired to an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission. On the AWD variant, the engine is upgraded to a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 260 hp and 236 lb-ft directed through a six-speed shiftable automatic gearbox. The IS 350 receives a dialed-up version of the 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 311 hp and 280 lb-ft and is mated to an eight-speed shiftable auto as either a rear-wheel drive or a six-speed shiftable auto when configured as an all-wheel drive. The IS range offers buyers a luxury sedan with excellent build quality and an exceptional comfort-focused ride, but with its V6 engine becoming outmoded and its anti-sport handling dynamics, rivals such as the Audi A4 and Acura TLX may prove more appealing to some buyers.

Read in this review:

What is BuzzScore?

2018 Lexus IS Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2017 IS?

For 2018, Lexus has renamed the IS 200t as the IS 300 RWD, and with the discontinuation of the CT 200h hatchback, the IS is now the entry-level model in the Lexus lineup. The well-respected V6 engine in the IS 300 has been tuned to deliver an additional five horsepower, and the IS 350 F Sport now comes standard with a limited-slip differential. Additionally, all IS models are now equipped with a mandated rearview backup camera.

Pros and Cons

  • Comfortable ride quality
  • Upscale interior
  • High quality build overall
  • Good safety ratings
  • Good range of standard safety and driver-assist features
  • Mediocre handling capabilities
  • Below-average fuel economy estimates
  • Optional Remote Touch infotainment system is not user-friendly

What's the Price of the 2018 Lexus IS?

The most affordable model from the 2018 range is the IS 300 RWD, with a starting MSRP of $38,210. Opting for the all-wheel drive variant will bump the price up to $40,660. IS 350 variants in rear-wheel-drive configuration have a starting price of $41,830, while the fully-loaded all-wheel-drive trim will set you back $43,995. All given prices are exclusive of Lexus' delivery, processing and handling fee of $1,025 and do not include tax, licensing, registration, and any dealer provided incentives.

Best Deals on 2018 Lexus IS

2018 Lexus IS Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
IS 300
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
IS 300 AWD
3.5L V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
IS 350
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
See All 2018 Lexus IS Trims and Specs

2018 IS Exterior

2018 Lexus IS Front View Lexus 2018 Lexus IS Rear View Lexus 2018 Lexus IS Front Angle View Lexus
2018 Lexus IS Front View
2018 Lexus IS Rear View
2018 Lexus IS Front Angle View
See All 2018 Lexus IS Exterior Photos


  • Length 184.3 in
  • Wheelbase 110.2 in
  • Height 56.3 in
  • Max Width 71.3 in
  • Front Width 60.4 in
  • Rear Width 61.0 in
  • Curb Weight 3,583.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Atomic Silver
  • Obsidian
  • Caviar
  • Nebula Gray Pearl
  • Silver Lining Metallic
  • Ultra White
  • Ultrasonic Blue Mica
  • Redline
  • Eminent White Pearl
  • Nightfall Mica

2018 IS Performance

2018 Lexus IS Front View Driving Lexus 2018 Lexus IS Engine Lexus 2018 Lexus IS Engine 1 Lexus
2018 Lexus IS Front View Driving
2018 Lexus IS Engine
2018 Lexus IS Engine 1

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Ride comfort is prioritized with the Lexus IS range which was designed to deliver an easy and consistently smooth drive. Solid body control in most driving conditions can be attributed to overall excellent build quality and highly compatible mechanical setup. Road bumps and impacts are absorbed well by the base underpinnings, which - along with the long wheelbase of the IS - makes for an absorbent glide over larger road undulations. Both the 17-inch and 18-inch wheels provide uninspiring grip, however, and balance around turns and during braking are below average. Although day-to-day braking is smooth and consistent, the pedal feels stiff and the travel is shorter than usual for a Lexus. In terms of steering, the IS is ordinary and responsive, though road feel isn't adequately communicated. This, along with the subpar brakes, diminishes driver confidence and set the IS behind rivals in terms of handling dynamics and capabilities.

Featured with all variants of the IS is a Drive Mode Select dial which either optimizes the IS for performance-based driving or for better fuel efficiency. Sport Mode enhances the powertrain for faster and more dynamic throttle responses, while Eco Mode moderates the throttle, engine power output, and climate settings to use less gas. When in Normal Mode, the vehicle is supposed to function in an optimal balance of fuel efficiency and engine performance. With the F Sport package applied, the IS 300 receives a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brake pads, and an intake sound generator that amplifies engine noise during acceleration; the IS 350 also receives a limited-slip differential.

2018 IS Interior

2018 Lexus IS Steering Wheel Lexus 2018 Lexus IS Central Console Lexus 2018 Lexus IS Infotainment System Lexus
2018 Lexus IS Steering Wheel
2018 Lexus IS Central Console
2018 Lexus IS Infotainment System
See All 2018 Lexus IS Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 44.8 in
  • Front Head Room 38.2 in
  • Rear Leg Room 32.2 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.9 in

2018 IS Trunk and Cargo Space

2018 Lexus IS Rear Passenger Seats Lexus 2018 Lexus IS Side View Lexus 2018 Lexus IS Rear Angle View Lexus
2018 Lexus IS Rear Passenger Seats
2018 Lexus IS Side View
2018 Lexus IS Rear Angle View
  • Trunk Volume
    10.8 ft³

2018 IS Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    6 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    1 Years \ 10,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2018 Lexus IS A Good car?

The 2018 Lexus IS is an average small-to-midsize luxury sedan; though it offers a refined ride, a comfortable cabin, and a high quality build inside and out, the IS lacks in practicality with impractical rear folding seats and limited in-cabin storage compartments. Despite the fact that designers have made a good attempt at including sporty appeal through the 350 models, class rivals simply outperform its bland V6 engine. The Audi A4 offers a more engaging driving experience by means of its enthusiastic 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, with the added benefit of more cargo space and versatility through rear seats that fold down in 40/20/40 configuration.

On the plus side, excellent crash test ratings and safety scores make this a superb family sedan. A superior selection of safety and advanced driver assist features are equipped as standard, with the option of adding to the list by means of optional packages. Additionally, the comfort of the interior and the smooth, effortless ride make the IS a great daily drive and long distance commuter, although the infotainment system proved subpar compared to competitors. Some rivals also offer more space in the back seat.

What Lexus IS Model Should I Buy?

The base model IS 300 in all-wheel-drive configuration is equipped with the more refined engine and transmission; the 2.0-liter turbo-four delivers more effective low-end torque for better acceleration from standstill and delivers better gas mileage than the larger V6 engine. To get the most out of what the IS has to offer, adding the Comfort Package for the extra convenience features and safety aids is almost a must, especially in comparison to rival vehicles that already include these features as standard. The Navigation/Mark Levinson premium audio package would be an ideal addition as well, despite the hefty price tag, although the inclusion of the unintuitive Lexus Remote Touch controller is a bit of a letdown.

For a fully-loaded, sport-sedan experience, the IS 350 RWD with the F Sport Package equipped is the best option. Also installing the Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio System Package rounds out the vehicle to include everything the Lexus IS has to offer in terms of performance and comfort. For those looking for a little more oomph and flair from the basic sedan, this is the model to buy.

2018 Lexus IS Comparisons

Audi A4 Sedan Audi
Acura TLX Acura
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Lexus IS241 hp21/31 mpg$40,085
Audi A4 Sedan 201 hp24/33 mpg$40,300
Acura TLX 355 hp19/24 mpg$40,050

2018 Lexus IS vs Audi A4 Sedan

Clocking more impressive 0-60 mph times than the IS, the Audi A4 offers more energetic acceleration as well as a smoother and quieter 2.0-liter turbo-four engine. The A4 also exhibits far more satisfying handling dynamics than any of the IS models, with superior brakes and high grip tires that deliver stable cornering and traction in most scenarios. The A4 also has a better infotainment system which allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and has the benefit of a more user-friendly controller. Where the Lexus IS stands out is in the high level of luxury and comfort in the cabin; it is evident that the A4 has been designed with a bias toward sport over luxury, and thus the seats and ride are a lot firmer compared to the IS. Deciding between the two vehicles comes down to whether you're in search of a sport-centric or comfort-focused small-to-medium luxury sedan. The Audi A4 is definitely sportier by nature, and is equipped with superior technology. However, the A4 doesn't quite match up to the comprehensive level of comfort and safety offered by the IS.

See Audi A4 Sedan Review

2018 Lexus IS vs Acura TLX

The Acura TLX and Lexus IS both offer expressive comfort and convenience, making the daily commute - as well as long-distance trips - satisfying and pleasant. The TLX does, however, offer more space in the cabin, and there is greater rear cabin legroom available as opposed to the IS' back seat, which can be restrictive for three adults across. Trunk and in-cabin cargo space are excellent in the TLX, and it is far more practical than the Lexus in terms of rear seats folding down. The IS does offer a more powerful engine which is also more fuel-efficient than the engine options available for the TLX. On the one hand, the Acura offers a wider variety of affordable trim options, but in general, these lack the necessary comfort, convenience and safety features that make a luxury sedan appealing. Though the IS may not be as practical as the TLX, overall it offers more value for money in the upper-level models, making the IS the better option of the two.

See Acura TLX Review
To Top