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2010 Lexus IS250 AWD

Jeff Glucker March 2, 2010 Lexus Reviews, Road Test Reviews 24 Comments

An entry-level luxury sedan should accomplish a few things. It should be fun to drive, provide a taste of what’s in store if you explore deeper into the model lineup, and show the world that you are climbing your respective career ladder. You may wish this were not the case but we live in a materialistic society.

Thankfully for us, the entry-level luxury sedan category is filled with some really interesting and exhilarating choices. These choices each offer something different and that is part of their appeal. The 2010 Lexus IS250 AWD is one of the plethora of cars in this segment. It’s up against some stiff competition, with each automaker pushing the other to make great cars. The problem here is that the IS250 AWD seems content with the middle of the pack.

The exterior style of the IS250 AWD has enough character to make it stand out in a sea of affordable point-A-to-point-B machines, but it lacks the punch so often found in its own segment. The grille flows nicely into the raised side of the hood, and this turns into a shoulder line that flows neatly down the side of the car. The line eventually wraps around the back of the car into a little tail spoiler. It looks clean and simple with a hint of sportiness at the front and the rear.

This Lexus does a much better job on the inside however, with a real quality feel to the materials. There is a level of luxury that hints at what the rest of the lineup has in store as a buyer matures into future Lexus vehicles. The AWD IS comes standard with the Premium Package Value Edition, which features heated and ventilated perforated leather front seats and a wood trim. The standard moonroof opens and closes with one touch of a button and the exterior mirrors are heated for those snowy morning commutes. The IS250 AWD also boasts a 13-speaker premium sound system with a six-disc in-dash CD changer, a USB plug, XM radio, and the ability to stream music via a Bluetooth connection. The inside of the 2010 Lexus IS250 AWD is a nice place to be with a good level of comfort up front and adequate comfort in the rear. Unfortunately, adequate comfort is the standard in this segment and the IS250 does a good job with the available room even when my 6’3″ frame has the driver’s seat all the way back.

Under the hood of the IS250 sits a 2.5L V6 engine that is pumping out 204 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. This is more than the 2.0T equipped Audi A4 but nowhere near as much as an Infiniti G37 sedan. It is enough to get the IS250 AWD moving quickly, but I would never call this a fast car. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission which can be shifted manually via steering wheel mounted paddles, or by the gear shift itself. The paddles react more quickly than I assumed they would but I was expecting it to take one week while it only takes one second. One second doesn’t sound like a long time but for those used to a manual transmission, it feels like an eternity.

The highlight of the IS250 AWD is definitely the Lexus ride quality. Once I got past the fact that this is not a true sports sedan, I settled into the seat and really enjoyed the comfortable cruise I took down the Pacific Coast Highway. If I were driving friends or family around in the back of this car they would get to admire the view. If I were to drive friends and family around in the back of the aforementioned G37 sedan, they would be puking. However, both rides would put a smile on my face – the Is250 would do so from my back thanking me for a smooth journey while the G37 would do so from my … um, other parts thanking me.

The 2010 Lexus IS250 AWD starts at $35,375.00 and the one you see tested here has a sticker price of $38,952.00. If you want a taste of top-notch luxury at a sub-$40,000 price and a comfortable ride, then this is the entry-level luxury sedan for you. If you are looking for something to carve a canyon back-road then clean up and make a splash at the valet court, then you might have to look elsewhere.

  • Really wish they offered a stick with this car. It is the entry level after all, might have tempted some driving enthusiasts looking for a bit of luxury throw in . Overall, not a bad car. My GF's mom has one, I've driven it on a short sprint, not fast but not too bad either, however wouldn't want to buy one. Especially without the MT option.

    • They do have a manual, I think not with the AWD though. Probably scarce as dragon droppings.

  • They couldn't get you a RWD manual, I see. That's unfortunate. With limited power to work with both the autobox and the AWD are going to take the edge off, and with both together, yeah, you get what you found here.

    • I was lined up for the manual convertible, but someone busted it before I was supposed to get it… they had this instead, and since it was raining I thought it was a good alternative.

  • If I was on a higher rung on my career ladder… I never knew that Lexus made an AWD sedan (probably because I never paid any attention to Lexus'), but is this relatively new?

    • Relatively – I believe AWD became available on the IS and GS starting from this generation.

  • BWa1k

    If my memory is correct, this car is a few ticks slower than a Corolla to 60. While straight-line speed of course isn't everything, when we're talking about nearly $40k worth of vehicle, it becomes an issue. This thing is a sport sedan with training wheels. If you can't handle a proper RWD sporty car, maybe its time to have a look at the ES350.

    • I don't think the lack of power is exactly an issue – 0-60 seems to fall somewhere in the mid-7 second range, which is respectable if not mind-blowing. But it does seem to be stuck in an awkward place where it's too subdued for someone looking for a RWD sport sedan, and too cramped compared to the ES350 sitting across the showroom floor (no doubt why the ES outsells the IS by a large margin).

      Of course, if I were in circumstances where I'd be looking at a Lexus (re. Toyota signing my paycheques), I'm sure I'd happily drive a manual transmissioned IS250 with a few F-Sport upgrades.

      • It’s funny you mention the F-Sport upgrades…I am in the GS350 with F-Sport parts. Look for the review in the next few weeks.

      • BWa1k

        I believe the addition of AWD slows its 0-60 into the 8s.

        I agree that this car is kind of awkwardly positioned, it doesn't make a ton of sense to me. The IS certainly isn't a bad car inherently. A manual-equipped 250 (no manual option for the 350) with some tweaks could certainly be fun to drive. However, I just think the whole IS line falls a little short of really capturing the enthusiasts attention, which is a problem when you consider the competition.

        • Not the WHOLE line…

          The IS-F is truly a BLAST to drive.

  • Never really understood the point of dropping $39k on something like this to impress the valet and the "Jones". IF I were going to spend that kind of cash on a luxury sports sedan, a quick search of Autotrader shows several BMW M5s and assorted M-B AMGs less than 5 years old in the same price range. I drive a 14 year old car and many people mistake it for a much newer model. Most folks just can't tell the difference.

    Glad you guys get to do the test drives though.

  • I hate to admit it, but I was impressed by the RX350 I had last summer. It suffers from the typical Toyota problems — lack of steering feel, not all that exciting to drive, etc. — but the ride is very nice and the engine. Wow….the engine. I now know why Lotus selected Toyota engines.

    While the IS250 may not deliver as much for the buck as some of its competition, there is a fairly significant part of the population that doesn't care about driving dynamics and fun. They want reliability and, until recently, Toyota was solidly associated with that.

  • It would be interesting to see how this stacks up against the C300 with 4matic.

    • I've driven both and far prefer the Merc. The interior is not as good as the Lexus but everything else, from the way the doors 'thunk' to the steering and brakes, is way better.

      However, the C-class is still pretty rotten for reliability, and despite Toyota's new bad rep, Lexi are screwed together beautifully and will cost a fraction over the long-term. If the IS was truly a well-built budget 3-series, it would be a very nice car. But it's not and it's not really.

  • Great pics! I especially love the rainy one!

  • I don't know what it is. My brain registers that the body is attractive. It notices the attention to detail on the inside. I can see this car is a quality machine; I just cant bring myself to like it. I don't hate it, It's more or less indifference. I don't care how good it is.

    • Exactly, that is the problem I have as well..

  • Why must teh smaller models always be teh "entry level" luxury cars and the big boats get all the top-end doodads and respect from The Fancies? Not that I'm really into doodads, but it sucks that you can drive an actual fun car like the 335i and people will still smirk at you like you wish you had a 750li but you can't afford it.

  • totally agree bro.

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  • DLC

    Spent many a year in Turbo RX7, Hayabusa motorcycles lots of fun fast things but reality is day to day, need 4wd…live in snow mountains, reliability—living at the base of a mountain in a "rural" area of the USA requires a lot of self reliance and dependability on our vehicles. So when all compare RWD whatevers to AWD whatevers it' not playing on fair ground. Previously had a Subaru for 200K miles and it was great (if not sporty by a long shot) So what I really wanted was AWD, 0-60 in 4 seconds, 40MPG and 15-20 years of easy ownership. Doesn't exist but hope the IS 250 AWD will suffice. BTW it gets LOTS of looks and comments. Maybe if I lived in Malibu it would be a yawn. Fast and sporty enough to have to pay attention, 27mpg and stays on the road in snow and ice. Close, close