Lexus adds entry 200t model for 2016 with standard turbocharged inline four
Lexus, a Toyota marquee, had its beginning in 1989 and has continued to evolve, develop, and expand.
The IS models are a series of entry-level luxury cars that debuted in 1998 in Japan as the Toyota Altezza and in the North America in 2000 as the Lexus IS 300.
At that time, the inline-six IS models featured wagon and sedan variants. When the third-generation IS line appeared in 2013, it included a V-6 powered IS 350 and IS 250, a hybrid IS 300h and performance-tuned F Sport variations – all sedans.
For model year 2016, the IS seats five, has standard rear-wheel drive, has a new 241-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed is available on AWD models), and comes in four trim levels: the 200t (with the new 2.0-liter engine), IS 300 AWD, IS 350 and IS 350 AWD.
The entry-level IS 200t model is new, with the 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged engine, engine oil cooler and ventilated rear brakes.
Also new is the IS 300 AWD with a de-tuned version of the IS 350’s 3.5-liter V-6.
There are 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels for IS 350 models. A heated steering wheel is now available as a stand-alone option, as is a new Premium Plus Package with power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers.
Lexus Enform Service Connect is now available. Part of the Lexus Enform Safety Connect subscription, Service Connect provides vehicle health information (maintenance and trouble conditions), collected via embedded telematics hardware, to owner and dealer.
Prices for IS models range from $37,325 for the 200t to $43,035 for the 350 AWD. An F Sport Package for $3,545 can be added to any trim for an extra-special look and sporty ride.
The package brings an F Sport front bumper and full-face black mesh spindle grille, LED headlamps (high and low beams), 18-inch F Sport split five-spoke wheels with summer tires; TFT instrument cluster, heated and cooled front F Sport seats, perforated shift knob, black headliner, aluminum pedals, backup monitor, F Sport steering wheel with paddle shifters; and an F Sport tuned suspension. The front bumper is more chiseled, with a recessed vent in place of the front fog light.
Up to eight exterior colors are available, depending on trim selected. Eleven interior color combinations are also available, some exclusive to specific models, with trim in either gray wood, brown wood, piano black or textured Silver Performance.
Three wheel choices are available in addition to the split-spoke wheels in the Sport package: 10-spoke 17-inch, mesh 18-inch, and five-spoke 18-inch.
My IS200t had the F Sport Package, which made the Ultra White exterior and Rioja Red perforated NuLuxe (imitation leather) interior with Silver Performance Trim available.
The steering wheel, shifter boot, knee cushions, and instrument panel brow were stitched with the same red as the seats. An optional Navigation System/Mark Levinson Audio System for $2,645 brought 5.1 Surround Sound, 17 speakers, and 835 watts of power, along with remote touch interface, Lexus Enform Destinations, and App Suite, voice command, Lexus Insider, and electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The large screen had clear graphics and was intuitive to use, although some of the submenu tabs were small. The rectangular controller on the console to the right of the shifter had a nice wrist rest and only two buttons – Menu and Home (map).
Menu choices could be made using the controller or voice control. I found the controller system distracting, as it moved a cursor freely around the screen, with haptic feedback and a “clunk” when properly positioned and the controller pressed. A slight bump and the cursor would move out of place and result in an incorrect selection.
Voice input would be a better option on the highway, and practicing in the driveway would be better still for either option.
My IS 200t had a long list of standard features and equipment, including Drive Mode Select – Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow – a power tilt/slide moon roof; 10 air bags (front, knee and side, rear side and side curtain); Lexus Enform Safety Connect (one-year trial subscription) with automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle location, emergency-assist button (SOS), and enhanced roadside assistance; Lexus Enform Remote (one year trial) – uses a smartphone app to control climate settings, start, lock and/or unlock the vehicle; auto dimming rearview mirror with universal garage/gate opener.
Also standard were a 10-way power driver seat with two-way lumbar, eight-way power passenger seat, and 60/40 folding rear seat; full-color multi-information display for audio, phone and trip information; Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, with iPhone integration and Siri voice recognition; and HD radio with real-time traffic and weather, Gracenote Album Art, MP3 player, USB integration (two ports), CD, and satellite radio (three month trial).
A Blind Spot Monitor with rear cross-traffic alert package for $600 also brought heated outside mirrors. A cargo net added $65, and wheel locks cost $75.
The F Sport package upped the wow factor of my IS 200t inside and out, and made driving fun. The bolstered seats were comfortable and comforting in sharp turns at highway speeds.
We had adequate headroom in the front with 38.2 inches. Rear headroom was snug with 32.2 inches. Front legroom was 38.2 inches, with 36.9 inches in the rear.
With $940 destination charges and $6,930 in options, the total delivered price of my IS 200t was $45,195.