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2008 Lexus IS

Overview
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2008 Lexus IS Review

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The current "entry level" model for the Lexus sedan line, the IS consists of the IS 250 in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive variations and the more potent rear-drive IS 350 -- as well as a new-for-2008 high-performance version, the IS-F (reviewed separately). Visually reminiscent of the larger GS, the IS melds sporty looks, enthusiast flair, a generous roster of standard equipment and legendary Lexus quality into a premium four-door sedan specifically intended to steal buyers away from the gold standard of this segment, the BMW 3 Series. Other competitors include Acura TSX and Audi A4, both of which are marginally more spacious inside.

You'll Like This Car If...

Sporty handling, an engaging personality and multiple powertrain and packaging configurations make the Lexus IS well worth considering by anyone who believes that small is beautiful and that a car is much more than a mere transportation appliance.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Some purists might argue that the Lexus IS lacks the handling precision and crisp visual tailoring of BMW's 3 Series, which remains the benchmark in this category. Limited rear-seat room might also draw frowns from all but the most modestly-scaled passengers.

What's New for 2008

Both the IS 250 and IS 350 carry forward with only minor cosmetic detail enhancements. The sole change of note is that the IS 250 AWD's previously standard semi-aniline heated and ventilated leather seats are now optional, and are replaced by the baseline heated leather units that are fitted to the rear-drive models.

Driving the IS

Driving Impressions Underpinning the Lexus IS is an enthusiast-oriented suspension that delivers good overall control and effectively limits body pitch and roll motions during aggressive cornering maneuvers. The steering is slightly heavy...

on-center (the straight-ahead position) but merits good marks for being positive and linear. Powerful anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) on all IS models seamlessly interact with the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) on IS 250s and the even more advanced Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system of the IS 350. While the IS 350 is the clear prime mover of this family, even the IS 250 AWD feels fairly quick around town and easily copes with the cut-and-thrust of daily commuting as well as freeway passing moves. With its revised chassis settings and wheel and tire upgrade, the optional Sport Package endows either rear-wheel-drive model with an extra measure of handling responsiveness.

Paddle-Shift Automatic Transmission
Optional in a base IS 250 but standard on the IS 250 AWD and IS 350, this slick sequential six-speed allows you to use the fully-automatic mode or shift for yourself via either steering wheel-mounted paddles or an up or down push on the conventional console-mounted gear lever.

Optional Sport Package
While the well-tuned standard suspension will likely please most buyers, the Sport Package is firmer and includes an 18-inch wheel and tire upgrade that elevates any rear-drive IS model -- but especially the IS 350 -- to near-BMW 3 Series levels of agility and fun without detracting from the basic ride comfort.

2008 Lexus IS Details
2008 Lexus IS photo Interior

Impressively finished and rich in soft-touch surfaces, the IS cabin is a relatively intimate space. Optitron electroluminescent gauges, user-friendly controls, a tilt and telescoping steering column and logically arrayed switches on the instrument panel's center stack emphasize its driver-friendly character, although bright sun can make the secondary readouts and navigation screen display difficult to read. Leather upholstery is standard in all versions, and optional wood accents can replace basic brushed aluminum across the line. Comfortable and supportive power front seats are a welcome home for those up to six feet tall, but modest head and leg room make the three-across fixed rear bench seat best suited for sub-adolescent passengers.

Exterior

Sharing the Lexus "L-Finesse" design language that was introduced with the GS, the IS has a clean, muscular appearance with a slight wedge profile accentuated by blackout B-pillars that serve to integrate the side glass into a single visual element. Other keys to its aggressive character include a power bulge on the hood, prominent shoulder ridges, well-defined fender flares and sculpted lower door sills. Finishing the look are 17-inch alloy wheels with V-rated 225/45 all-season tires on the IS 250 AWD and 225/45 front with 245/45 rear tires on the other two models. Rear-drive models also can be fitted with 18-inch wheels and tires as an upgrade.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Even the baseline IS 250 with 204 horsepower and six-speed manual transmission (or optional six-speed paddle-shifted automatic) has a comprehensive array of standard equipment that includes numerous power assists -- including 10-way power driver's and passenger's seats -- plus dual-zone automatic climate control, power moonroof, SmartAccess remote keyless entry and start, a 194-watt 13-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer, trip computer, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and anti-lock disc brakes. The IS 250 AWD adds a sophisticated all-wheel drive system and an automatic transmission as standard equipment, while the 306-horsepower IS 350 is available with the automatic only and has the Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM) package and upgraded, larger brakes. All IS variants are fitted with front, front-side and front and rear side-curtain airbags.

Optional Equipment

Key IS upgrades include the Premium Package (perforated-leather upholstery, wood trim and heated and ventilated seats) and the Luxury Package (which adds corner-following bi-xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, power tilt and telescoping steering column, seat memory and more). Rear-drive IS models also offer a Sport Package (the features of the Luxury Package, plus sportier suspension tuning, high-performance wheels and tires and other features) and the X Package (the Sport Package suspension and wheels, and a front spoiler, but without the Luxury Package features). Another option combines Voice-activated DVD Navigation, with backup camera and Bluetooth, and a Mark Levinson 14-speaker 300-watt Premium Surround Sound Audio System. The navigation system is also available as a stand-alone option, as are the bi-xenon adaptive headlights, SIRIUS or XM Satellite Radio, an impact-mitigating Pre-Collision System and Dynamic Cruise Control and several other worthwhile items.

Under the Hood

Two technology-intensive, all-aluminum V6 engines provide clean and comparatively fuel-efficient motivation for the IS line. The 2.5-liter version uses dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) and direct-to-cylinder fuel injection to develop 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, sufficient to take a rear-drive IS 250 from zero to 60 miles per hour in a bit under eight seconds with either transmission, and to send the IS 250 AWD to that speed in about 8.5 seconds. The 3.5-liter V6 in the IS 350 adds secondary port injection and cranks out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Backed with the mandatory paddle-shifted multi-mode (Normal/Sport/Snow) automatic, it propels the fleetest member of the IS family to the 60-mph benchmark in less than six seconds.

2.5-liter V6
204 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
185 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (manual), 21/29 (automatic), 20/26 (AWD automatic)

3.5-liter V6
306 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
277 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2008 Lexus IS Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 383 Ratings for the 2006 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.1/10
    Quality
    9.4/10
  • Reliability
    9.5/10
    Performance
    9.2/10
  • Comfort
    9.1/10
    Styling
    9.4/10

Still loving it

By on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Head turner, fun to drive-quick!"

Cons: "Rear wheel tough on ice but loved 360 days"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is a great car. It has every feature/ option the 350 had available. Rear camera, rear shade, great comfy seating, Bluetooth, navigation, 6cd has great sound. This was my first Lexus. I bought it used and love it ."

Good looking, fun car!

By on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,500

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Good looking .. Fun to drive"

Cons: "Cup holder location, road noise"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"We absolutely love the looks of this car. Gorgeous red exterior and cream interior. It is also a very comfortable ride. We have only owned it for about 8 months, and put very low miles on her. The only negatives are the proximity of the cup holder to the shifter .. a little cramped. If you need the second cup holder, you have to slide your arm rest back out of the way to get to the cup holder inside the console area. Road noise is an issue as well. Our car does have the navigation, which we love, but we do not have memory seats, which would have been a huge positive for us. All in all we love our IS."

8 people out of 17 found this review helpful

the finest automobile i ever owned

By on Sunday, June 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 93,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"this car made driving fun again . very sporty feel tight suspension . its a four door luxury sports car . the only thin i would have changed was the rear leg room. i kno u say then u should have bought the gs or es . they r old peoles cars . the is rocks"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Pristine Luxury Hard Top Convertible

By on Saturday, June 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great price, fun to drive and own."

Cons: "No cons. My 4th Lexus convertible!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Garage kept, one person non smoker-driver, low mileage luxury convertible. Showroom quality. Dark grey, camel tan interior. All the bells and whistles. Fun car to drive and own. Turns heads with the top down. Proud to own."

5 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Great convertible, I highly recommend it...

By on Thursday, May 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Style, reliability, hard top covertible"

Cons: "Small trunk, but I guess that comes with the conve"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Great convertible, I highly recommend it if you like convertibles... Super reliable, my car has 50K miles and I have only done regular maintenance, no factory issues at all...."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

8.5 years old and still turning heads

By on Saturday, April 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Good looks and fun to drive"

Cons: "Lexus Service prices/costs"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I love the Matador Red Mica color. Mileage has averaged 24-26 around town (lots of lights and stop-go) over 8.5 years. Does go through tires because of the low-profile. I invested in snow tires and so now trade them out. With the AWD, she handles great in snow and ice. Fun to drive."

9 people out of 16 found this review helpful

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