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More Grilles, More Image: 2017 Lexus IS 200t F SPORT

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From our experience, entry level premium cars are more about creating an image than they are about the actual car. When Lexus carried over its IS250 with a 2.5-liter V-6 and 204-horsepower in 2014 – the car didn’t have to be good – it just had to look every bit the part. Now, Lexus has done something brilliant by implementing the same turbocharged engine from the NX200t into the IS; acknowledging it as the IS200t.

If this seems like old news, it should – we sampled the IS200t early last year that proved it was better suited in the IS over the previous generation. So then what did change for 2017? Don’t strain yourself… it’s all in the details. Most of the changes are cosmetic having redesigned the headlights with new, standard LED transplants, a set of sexy LED taillights, and squared of exhaust tips. The front face also got more aggressive with a sider mouth grille, shiny black accents and more fang.

New switchgear, hardware and software makes its way into the interior with a reworked steering wheel to fit in Lexus’ new, standard safety gear that features Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert with Automatic Braking and Automatic High Beams. Also, Lexus updated the analog clock and altered the cup holders (now easier on you Keurig coffee drinkers.) Opting for the $1735 Navigation system replaces the standard 7-inch display with a new 10.25-inch wide screen that fills in the area very well – something it was lacking before. This infotainment system still operates by a clunky mouse interface that does make it difficult to use while on the go – we suppose that’s what voice command can be used for.

The Lexus IS200t holds a level of quality that can, really only be found in a Lexus. The use of soft touch materials and trim feels of high class and with our $3545 F SPORT Package, the sport influenced seats pampered us restfully being heated and cooled. Being that the IS200t is a small car, rear leg room is a squeeze and the low roof line may meet your noggin – hopefully you’re not an Uber driver. The addition of the dual USB ports in the center console is nice and how could we deny the tremendous F SPORT digital TFT display.

Considering the engine didn’t change from last year, the 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder produces 241-horsepower. Manage to build up boost appropriately and it can sprint to 60 mph in just under 7 seconds. Statistics show that the 3 German Musketeers are quicker and better to drive; however, 7-days behind the wheel of the IS200t and we really didn’t care. The F SPORT tuned chassis is a real peach – the ride quality is superb and the responsiveness to the road is very coherent to its surroundings. From behind the wheel, the IS200t is confident in every way – the thick, heavy weighted F SPORT steering wheel feels empowering, sharp, and agile.

Since the IS200t is turbocharged, turbo lag was presented at low RPMS, however, considering the buyer, it will mostly go unnoticed. The 258lb-ft of torque pulls away easily overtaking motorist that pissed us off highway. The eight-speed transmission here expressed that it’s not ideal for the IS200t shifting prematurely and struggled to find the right gear when downshifting. This problem can be resolved simply by putting it in sport mode and manually shifting through the steering wheel paddle shifters.

Lexus’ line up is a bit strange – 200t, 300, and 350. Both the IS200t and IS350 come in rear-wheel drive drivetrains and new eight-speed transmission, where the IS300 provides all-wheel drive through a six-speed transmission and for reasons we don’t understand, produces 255-horspower from its 3.5-liter V-6 verses the 306-horsepower we’d find out of the 3.5-liter V-6 IS350.

Starting at just below $38,000, the Lexus IS200t is a much better upgrade over its processor. After a few options, our price tag pushed $45,000… which isn’t bad in the grand scheme of things. Even if you look at the three Germans, they’ll push over 50-grand. So if you want a car that impresses the in-laws, looks good in valet, and provides a driving experience one can enjoy… then maybe an IS200t is just the image you need.

Vehicle Specifications:
2017 Lexus IS200t Base Price: $37,825
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $44,850
Performance Specs:
2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder – 241-Horsepower, 8-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±7.0 seconds
EPA MPG: 22/32/26 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average:  17 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±370 Miles



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