The Lexus IS has been on the market for over two decades now. Now in its third generation, Lexus has only sold about 633,890 units of IS in the US since the year 2000.
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In over two decades, we may not view that as a remarkable sales success. Could it be that the Lexus IS is not an impressive car?
Let’s find out together.
The Best and Worst Years for Lexus IS Are:
The 2015, 2014, 2018, 2017, and 2019 model years are the best Lexus IS models. On the contrary, the worst Lexus IS model years are the 2007, 2008, and 2006 models.
Admittedly, you’d find other reliable, and unreliable Lexus IS years besides these. However, these years are at the forefront.
What Lexus IS Years Are the Most Reliable?
In determining the reliability of a car, it is best to regard feedback from previous and existing owners.
In spite of the numerous complaints that other Lexus IS models have received over the years, it is just remarkable that some IS models have received little to no user complaints so far.
Here are the most reliable Lexus IS models:
1. 2014 Lexus IS 300
The 2014 Lexus IS 300 comes with a boastful and sporty exterior design as well as ritzy interior features.
This ride offers tons of tech features that include automatic climate control, speed-sensing steering, ABS brakes, and a rearview camera.
Unlike some other more recent IS models, the 2014 Lexus IS also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto amongst its other standard tech and safety features.
This model has also received no user complaints on both NHTSA and Car Complaints as of the time of writing this review. It also has an excellent reliability rating of 86/100 from J.D. Power.
In spite of the IS’s subpar fuel economy, US Car News has also ranked the 2014 Lexus IS #6 out of 18 among 2014 luxury small cars.
2. 2018 Lexus IS 350
The 2018 Lexus IS 350 comes with loads of features that complement its smooth ride quality. Unlike the 2017 model, this car offers a rearview camera, and improved horsepower to give a more swift ride.
The IS 350 is the fastest of the Lexus IS lineup. It works with a V6 engine that makes 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. While some other rivals give more horsepower, the 2018 Lexus IS is also quite impressive on the highway.
Aside from speed, this car also offers standard safety features, including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and automatic braking.
The 2018 Lexus IS 350 has also impressed reviewers in terms of reliability and overall performance. Edmunds scores it 4.5/5 and Cars.com also rates it 4.3/5.
It is also ranked #5 out of 19 2018 luxury small cars by US Car News.
Moreover, the cost of repairing this car is relatively cheap. Edmunds quotes its repair cost for the first five years to be $465, $500, $537, $574, and $614 respectively.
3. 2019 Lexus IS 350
The 2019 Lexus IS 350 maintains the impressive features and performance of the 2018 version.
Although the less covetous touchscreen interface that many owners despise in the previous IS models isn’t improved on, the car still offers a comfortable and entertaining ride.
This model also comes with loads of standard features that include dual-zone automatic climate control. Further, it maintains the standard safety features that are present in the 2018 model.
The 2019 Lexus IS has also been tagged as impressive and reliable by various reviewers. To mention a few, Car and Driver and US Car News rate it 7.5/10 on overall performance and reliability.
A major weakness of this ride is its lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and its less impressive fuel economy. That could be why US Car News ranks it #13 out of 22 among 2019 luxury small cars.
What Lexus IS Years Should You Avoid?
The Lexus IS has a tainted reputation regarding problems. In fact, among Lexus models with the most recalls, three Lexus IS variants feature on that list.
It is best to avoid the following Lexus IS models:
1. 2007 Lexus IS 250
The 2007 Lexus IS 250 is just so unfortunately loaded with tons of issues. As a matter of fact, the vehicle has received a combined 465 complaints on NHTSA and Car Complaints over the years.
Notable among the issues with this car is the electrical system, the engine, steering, lights, fuel system, drivetrain, airbag, and dashboard.
Below is a highlight of some of the 2007 Lexus IS 250 issues.
The dashboard of this car melts when exposed to sunlight. This creates a shiny spot on the panel and it reflects on the windshield, affecting the visibility of drivers.
The melting situation does not involve the dashboard alone. It also affects the door panels.
The fuel system of this car is also another major point of concern. Although a recall has been initiated to correct the issue with the fuel system, many of these models may not be involved in the recall.
There is a problem with the fuel injector system of the 2007 Lexus IS 250, and this makes the engine shut off unexpectedly.
This could make the check engine, VSC, and traction lights come on while driving.
The fuel injection fails during cold climates, and this often makes the fuel condense on the cylinder and contaminate the engine oil.
While different users have lamented about the car stopping unexpectedly even on the highway, several others have expressed fear for their safety in this car.
Another notable issue with this car is the defective airbag sensor. Whereas a normal sensor will detect a passenger and remain on alert in case of a serious collision, this Lexus IS often fails in this regard.
Be aware that this issue has been attributed to the defective Takata airbag, and a recall had been issued for it. Still, you should be wary of the problem.
If you drive a 2007 Lexus IS 250 and you’re yet to experience issues with the headlight going off unnecessarily, you must be lucky.
The exterior lighting system of this car also seems to have an issue. Most times, the light goes off and when you switch it off/on again, it’ll come up.
Unfortunately, replacing the faulty light won’t solve the problem. Several owners of this ride have complained of a recurrence even after changing the headlight.
Everyone knows how important headlights are, especially when driving at night. That’s another reason you should be wary of the 2007 Lexus IS 250.
Interestingly, the Lexus IS is among the popular cars with Xenon headlights.
Power steering failure
The power steering of this car could also fail to function, leaving the steering to become seized or erratic. This is another very common issue with the 2007 Lexus IS.
The issues with the 2007 Lexus IS 250 are also common with the 2007 Lexus IS 350. So, you would also love to avoid this model as well.
2. 2008 Lexus IS 250
The 2008 Lexus IS 250 is supposed to come with significant corrections to the problems common with its predecessors. Instead, it picks up on all the problems.
This car has 308 recorded complaints on NHTSA and Car Complaints as of the time of writing this review, and most of its issues are the same as the 2007 model.
Like many other IS models, the rearview mirror of the 2008 Lexus IS 250 is also unusable due to its loss of reflectivity.
Moreover, this car is not exempted from other notable IS issues.
3. 2006 Lexus IS 350
The 2006 Lexus IS 350 has received 291 combined complaints on NHTSA and Car Complaints at the time of writing this review.
Read a highlight of its major issues here.
There have been issues with the firmness of the brake of the 2006 Lexus IS 350. This makes the brake to be less effective when used.
While many owners have complained about the brake of this car, several others have also faulted the failure of the ABS to come into effect when needed.
It is very important to note that while the Lexus IS works with a push-start ignition, you might need to exert extra force on the brake of the 2006 model to get it to stop.
The power steering of the 2006 Lexus IS 350 is also not overly reliable. More often than not, it fails to work, making the steering stiff or unstable as a result.
The material used in making the interior dash of this car seems to be of low quality. Presumably, Lexus failed to test the dashboard under the sun.
The fact is, the dashboard melts when exposed to the sun. This makes it turn sticky or shiny; and when it shines during the daytime, it interferes with the visibility of the driver.
As mild as this issue might seem, it is one of the few factors that render this car unsafe to drive.
Another notable issue with the 2006 Lexus IS model is the internal rearview mirror, which appears discolored while having many black spots on its surface.
This gives off vague rearward visibility while driving, as the mirror gives little to no reflectivity.
A defective rearview mirror could cause a potential safety hazard. It could as well hinder the driver from tracking the vehicle behind, especially during suspected trailing situations.
Another important concern about this car is the high smell of gas in its cabin when in motion.
Quite a number of users have reported suspected gas leaking, and it is traced to the fuel rail. This is a serious safety concern and another reason you should avoid the 2006 year model.
Many owners have claimed that a serious smell of fuel engulfs the cabin a few minutes after driving this car.
What Are Some Typical Problems With the Lexus IS Models?
Here are some of the typical problems with the Lexus IS models:
- Melting dashboard
- Vague rearview mirror
- Defective power steering
- Faulty airbag system
- Flickering headlights
- Defective fuel injector system
There are other problems with Lexus cars you may want to be aware of.
Go back: Overview of best/worst years for all Lexus models.
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.