2024 Lexus IS 500 Pros and Cons: All About That V8

The 5.0-liter V8 makes an aging sedan worth buying again.

byNico DeMattia|
Nico DeMattia
Nico DeMattia.


Lexus’ third and current generation IS is on life support. Having launched in 2013, it’s over a decade old and every one of its competitors is far fresher. The BMW 3 Series, Genesis G70, Mercedes C-Class, and Acura TLX are all significantly newer and they feel it. However, Lexus did something that gave the IS just enough life to compete with its fresh-legged rivals—add a V8.

Now that Mercedes-AMG dropped the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 from its C63 in favor of a hybrid four-cylinder setup (yuck), the 2024 Lexus IS 500 is the only car left in the segment packing eight cylinders. Its 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 is the same one you’ll find in the LC 500 and RC F. And while the engine is familiar at this point having powered several Lexus models over the years, its silky smooth power delivery and spine-tingling noise has not gotten old. Plus, the incongruity of having such an engine in a small, rear-wheel-drive sedan gives the aging Lexus IS a huge boost. 

But is that boost big enough? This generation of Lexus IS was never a dynamite sport sedan to begin with; now that it feels dated, its pitfalls are magnified. Is the sensational V8 special enough to mask the IS’ flaws? 

2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Specs
Base Price (Premium as tested)$60,520 ($67,470)
Powertrain5.0-liter V8 | 8-speed automatic | rear-wheel drive
Horsepower472 @ 7,100 rpm
Torque395 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Seating Capacity5
Curb Weight3,891 pounds
Cargo Volume10.8 cubic feet
0-60 mph4.5 seconds
Top Speed149 mph
EPA Fuel Economy17 mpg city |  25 highway | 20 combined
Quick TakeA dated but luxurious small sedan wrapped around an incredible V8.


Despite its age, there’s still a lot to like about the IS 500. But it all starts with that engine. Lexus’ 5.0-liter V8 is a thing of joy. Few engines on this planet deliver the sort of decadently smooth, razor-sharp responses that Lexus’ V8 does. Part of its charm is its normal aspiration, without any laggy turbochargers getting in the way. Even the best turbocharged engines feel lazy by comparison. 

But its responsiveness isn’t the best part. Oh no, the best part is the noise. Let that glorious V8 rev out near redline and you’ll hear one of the gnarliest engine noises in the business. It’s loud and violent sounding but also musical. When you hear that sort of noise in a sensible, ordinary sedan like the IS, it’s impossible to not grin from ear to ear. 

It looks good, too. The IS might be old but Lexus has continued to update its design over the years and it looks sharp. The big “Predator” grille is aging well, its headlights are sharp, and its rear end looks muscular. I also love the optional 19-inch forged wheels as they’re the perfect size and not overly flashy. It’s one of the more handsome sedans in the segment.

One thing Lexus has continued to use in the IS is the sliding tachometer in the instruments. The central tach can slide over to the right of the gauge cluster with the push of a button, providing more info to the driver if they need it. While a bit gimmicky, it’s fun to see a mechanical gauge function in this world of digital screens.

Nico DeMattia

The ride quality is good, too. It handles bumps surprisingly well, given its performance aspirations, and it’s a great highway cruiser. Few cars with wheelbases as short as the IS 500’s are as rock-solid at high speed. 


That’s where my praise ends, unfortunately. For starters, the steering is underwhelming at best. The IS 500 is supposed to be a performance sedan but it doesn’t steer anywhere near as well as it should. Turn the wheel off-center and there’s no appreciable weighting build-up, it’s more indirect than many of its competitors, and it’s vague. As sporty as the IS 500 tries to be, with its killer V8 and athletic looks, it steers like like a much larger, heavier car.

Speaking of heavy, you can feel the IS 500’s extra front-end heft, thanks to that bulky V8. Lexus did a good job with the suspension tuning, as the IS 500 never dives under braking or anything, but every turn of the wheel reminds you that there’s a big V8 lump up front. It doesn’t turn in particularly quickly, and it’s a bit prone to understeer. It isn’t horrible but there are cars in the segment that are just as fast, if not faster, with smaller, lighter engines that feel sharper, like the BMW M340i and Genesis G70.

Not helping things in the handling department is the tradeoff for that cushy ride. Turn the wheel and the IS 500 feels overly soft on its springs. Typically, I like a softer ride and a bit of lean from my sports cars, as it allows me to feel the weight transfer and understand what it’s doing underneath me better. But the IS 500 goes too far and becomes wallowy when you try to have some fun.

Where this car shows its age the most, however, is inside. Instead of Lexus’ new touchscreen infotainment system, which is one of my favorites, the IS 500 still uses the company’s last-gen OS complete with the old mousepad system, which is as infuriating as I remember. Thankfully, the actual screen itself is now a touchscreen, so you can tap certain icons to get through the menus faster. Although, the resolution feels a bit low compared to more modern cars. 

Nico DeMattia

Quick Verdict

The 2024 Lexus IS 500 is a very specific flavor of car. Despite its compact size and aggressive looks, it doesn’t drive like a sports sedan. Instead, it drives more like a big luxury bruiser. Its sensational V8 pulls hard, making a killer noise along the way, and its soft ride keeps it comfortable and stable in a straight line. Ask it to turn quickly and it gets a bit grumpy. But keep it pointed straight and your foot to the floor, and it’s a very happy little car.

As delightfully old-school as its free-breathing V8 is, the old-school cabin isn’t as delightful. While I don’t mind simple, uncomplicated interiors—I only own old cars without infotainment systems—dated tech like the IS 500’s just feels like a hindrance. If you aren’t looking for the latest bells and whistles and can get along with the old Lexus system, though, it won’t be an issue for you. 

Nico DeMattia

Price-wise, the IS 500 is in a weird spot, too. At almost $70,000 as-tested, my IS 500 was uncomfortably close to the BMW M3 and Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, both of which are faster and better to drive. The Lexus is also more expensive than cars like the Acura TLX Type S, BMW M340i, and non-Blackwing Cadillac CT4-V, which are either about as fast or faster and also sharper to drive. But the IS 500 is more unique and potentially more interesting than all of them, thanks to that sensational V8. It might look like a sports sedan but it’s really a small luxury sedan wrapped around one of the best engines on the market. If that’s the unique flavor you’re looking for, you won’t find it anywhere else. 

So, is the V8 good enough to mask the IS 500's age and flaws? As much as I love that engine, it wouldn't be enough for me to buy it. At the price, I think there are more exciting sports sedans on the market. But I wouldn't begrudge anyone that felt otherwise.

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