The Lexus IS is due for an update, and for 2016, the Japanese luxury automaker is making good on this need. Given it only recently underwent a full overhaul, it’s no surprise that there are no dramatic visual changes, but there are some drastic under-hood changes afoot for the 2016 IS.
The biggest change for 2016 is the addition of the new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that the brand recently announced for the European market. This engine will take the place of the underwhelming and sorely outmatched 2.5-liter V-6 that has long been the base engine for the IS. With this new engine also comes a new name: IS 200t.
This 2.0-liter engine, which will only come with rear-wheel drive, will deliver an extra 37 horsepower and 73 pound-feet torque over the outgoing V-6, bringing the output to 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This boost will drop its 0-to-60 mph time to seven seconds or less – a drop of at least 0.7 seconds. What’s more, this engine should easily beat the 2.5-liter engine’s 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway ratings.
For those who need all-wheel drive, there is a new engine for you too. This is a detuned version of the existing 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 255 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Lexus has tagged this model the IS 300 AWD.
I find it a tad odd that Lexus is not offering the 2.0-liter engine with all-wheel drive, but I can only assume it is an engineering issue that prevents an IS 200t AWD. I reached out to Lexus for an answer to this issue, but I have yet to hear back.
Carrying over into the 2016 model year is the IS 350 with its 3.5-liter engine that produces 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. This engine will continue to be available with rear- and all-wheel-drive setups.
Besides the new engines, there are a few other tweaks to the IS lineup for the 2016 model year. These changes include the addition of standard 18-inch five-spoke alloy rollers on the IS 350, a heated steering wheel as a standalone option, a new Premium Plus package with a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers, and available Lexus Enform Service Connect.
Lexus hasn’t announced release dates or anticipated pricing for the 2016 IS lineup, but we should learn more soon, as the new model year is rolling up fast.