For 2017, the Lexus IS 200t has been given a minor facelift from the 2016 model, featuring larger air intakes in the bumper, new LED headlamps and grille, revised taillights and exhaust tips, and a larger display screen for the optional navigation system. Additionally, the IS 200t now comes with the optional suite of driver assistance safety features as standard.
The IS 200t is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (241 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) and is exclusively mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. (All-wheel drive is available on the V6-powered IS 300, reviewed separately.) A variety of option packages offer a range of features, so it is important to choose the ones that best suit your needs.
When you invest $45,000 for a luxury sport sedan that is smaller than the Honda Civic, you should feel special. The 2017 Lexus IS 200t F Sport has been refreshed and its driver's seat is luxurious in almost every aspect. However, the turbocharged IS 200t's 0-60-mph time of 7.0 seconds is slower than that of the BMW 330i (5.5 seconds), Mercedes-Benz C300 (6.0 seconds), and Cadillac ATS 2.0T (5.7 seconds). This is due to the IS 200t's weight of 3,783 pounds, heavier than the 330i's 3,537 pounds, the C300's 3,512 pounds, and the ATS' 3,473 pounds. Despite this, the IS 200t does not feel sluggish from the driver's seat, and those who prioritize speed can opt for the 306-hp IS 350.
The 8-speed automatic transmission of the IS 200t F Sport is geared more towards fuel economy and relaxed driving than performance, with Eco and Sport modes activated by rotating a silver disc on the center console. The car is relatively quiet at idle, and the driver is embraced by the seats. On the figure-eight course, the Lexus achieved a 26.3-second time at 0.69 g (average), slightly slower than the C300 (25.7 seconds at 0.71 g), ATS (26.0 seconds at 0.71 g), and 330i (26.1 seconds at 0.71 g). Although agile on the track, the tires heat up quickly.
The IS 200t F Sport is sporty, but it does not quite match up to the class leaders. Its rear seat is almost usable, with soft seat backs that offer knee support, although the ES offers more space for a similar price and is not as good to drive.
The interior of the IS 200t is stylish, with a black headliner, thick steering wheel, F Sport-specific digital instrument cluster, analog clock, and 10.3-inch screen. The central gauge can be rearranged around the tachometer and digital speedometer. The navigation package includes a display at the top of the dashboard.
Editors found the mouselike controller used to navigate the large screen inconvenient. Located at the bottom of the center stack, it has a raised palm rest for comfort. The wide screen can be split to show multiple pieces of information simultaneously. The infotainment system is not the best, but it is not as bad as some say, given the 2017 IS' 10.3-inch screen.
The 2017 IS 200t does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but it does come with a range of standard features. These include active safety tech such as lane departure mitigation, a pre-collision system, and adaptive cruise control, as well as LED headlights and hands-free keyless access. This refreshed model has the potential to provide the luxury of decent reliability that many Lexuses have previously set.
The Lexus IS 200t may not be the first choice for customers due to its fuel economy - EPA-rated 22/32 mpg city/highway - which is lower than some of its quicker competitors. However, the F Sport package accentuates the car's boldness with its overstyled design. Executive editor Mark Rechtin called it a "butterface," and senior features editor Jonny Lieberman described it as strange and gross. Though the angular LED daytime running lights look like awkward Nike swooshes, there are some great styling details, such as the triple L design in the revised 2017 model's taillights, or the way the rear door cut line rises to meet the stretched-out taillights on the other side of the rear wheels.
You can forgo the $3,545 F Sport package, but then you'd miss out on the perforated leather F Sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals, black headliner, LFA-inspired instrument cluster gauges, 18-inch split-five-spoke wheels, and more. The IS' unique styling may be its main draw. While other compact luxury sport sedans may be more fun, efficient, and quicker, few offer an interior as rewarding or as much content as the IS 200t F Sport's, at its as-tested price of $45,885. If you don't mind a small trunk and slower freeway entry, the IS 200t should be considered.