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Highly Visible Member of a Vanishing Breed: The 2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT front 3/4 view

Once upon a time, if you wanted power, you wanted a V8. And the bigger the better---"there is no substitute for cubic inches", the saying went.

Thanks to reliable turbocharging, and dual turbocharging and turbocharging paired with supercharging, that's no longer strictly true---and nudged along by impending regulations about emissions, V8s became V6s and finally inline fours---2.0 liters and sometimes less, punching way above their weight.

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT rear 3/4 view

The V8s have become few. And, somewhat ironically, Lexus, the brand once known for building isolation tanks with whipped cream inside their shock absorbers (literary license exercised here) has more than its share---in the LC 500 coupe, the LC 500 convertible, the RC F coupe, and the subject of this review, the 2023 Lexus IS 500 F Sport sedan.

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT hood up

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT engine

All the muscular Lexuses (Lexii?) have one thing in common---the engine. Five liters, 472 horsepower, 395 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 in 4.4 (coincidentally, all three share that same statistic, as well). For the IS 500 F SPORT, the EPA says to expect 17 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined.

The other performance particulars: An eight-speed automatic transmission, rear wheel drive, F SPORT adaptive variable suspension, Torsen limited slip differential, selectable drive modes, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and 19-inch Enkei alloy wheels.

What that adds up to is an athletic sport sedan that goes, stops and handles equally well. There's an exhilaration (though muted a bit from the previous-gen IS-F) not generally associated with the Lexus brand, and the bonus is Lexus reliability (something not all high-performance vehicles can boast).

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT trunk open

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT rear seat

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT front seats

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT front seat detail

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT instrument panel

$63,170 is the base price, with destination, for our test vehicle, the 2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Premium. Standard at that price beyond what we've already talked about are F SPORT Performance exterior styling, F SPORT bolstered power front seats with heating and ventilation, F SPORT heated leather-trimmed steering wheel, F SPORT front door scuff plates, satin chrome interior ornamentation, driver memory, a moonroof, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers,, a power rear sunshade, Lexus' comprehensive Safety System + 2.5 active safety suite, quad exhaust with a rear lip spoiler, LED headlamps, taillamp and daytime running lamps, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, the Lexus Inform app suite, carpeted floor mats and a first aid kit.

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT steering wheel and gauge cluster

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT center stack

And despite that seemingly exhaustive list of standard equipment (which omits that yes, that is a CD player in the dashboard---one of the few left in new cars), there were some extra-cost options on our vehicle as well: $2,450 goes for 19-inch matte black BBS forged wheels, the Infrared paint color is extra at $595, a rear bumper appliqué adds $90 to the tab, a cargo net $75, a key glove $25 and a carpeted trunk mat $120.

The bottom line on the window sticker reads $66,525.

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT front view

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT side view

2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT rear view

Lexus is no longer the brand that delivers the goods at a price shockingly lower than that of the competition, but the price tag of the IS 500 F SPORT is still less than what a comparable Benz or BMW will run. It's a worthy contender for those who want to get in on the era of V8 muscle before it vanishes into the EV static.


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