Driving enthusiasts may argue that the best premium sedans come from Germany, but the 2012 Lexus IS begs to differ. Offered in rear- and all-wheel-drive model, with a choice of two six-cylinder powerplants, and wrapped in youthful styling, the Lexus IS sedan sports a reputation for longevity and low maintenance costs few others in this field can equal. For buyers focused on resale value, the Lexus IS is the best near-luxury car out there.
Simple, clean and tasteful, the interior of the 2012 Lexus IS is the epitome of Lexus restraint. Soft touch surfaces abound, and leather seating is standard on all models. Move to the exterior and a slight wedge profile, prominent shoulder ridges and subtly bulging hood work to highlight the athletic nature of Lexus' entry sedan.
At the heart of the 2012 Lexus IS is a sport suspension that does an admirable job minimizing body roll without also delivering a jarring ride. Steering is positive and linear, and the brakes and electronic stability control system work effortlessly to keep the car in check. While the 306-horsepower IS 350 is the prime mover of this family, even the 2012 Lexus IS 250 feels fairly quick around town, using its 204 horsepower to move from zero to 60 mph in a bit less than eight seconds.
With a base price around $33,500 for the IS 250 and approximately $40,000 for the more powerful IS 350, all models of the IS line also enjoy a significant monetary advantage when compared to competitors like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. That advantage includes both initial cost and residual values where the Lexus IS ranks at the top of the chart.