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2023 Lexus IS 500 - Review by Larry Nutson

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2023 Lexus IS 500
Lots of show and go

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Apparently among the Lexus cognoscenti the color Grecian Water is a topic of conversation.

Grecian Water is the blue exterior color of the IS 500 that is the subject of this review.

As I walked out of a shop where I had left our kitchen knives for sharpening I noticed a red Porsche 911 parked behind the IS 500. The Porsche owner was eyeing the Lexus. I offered to swap cars, with a smile on my face. Of course, I couldn’t because the IS 500 was not mine to swap, it being on loan to me.

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It turned out the Porsche driver had an IS 350 in his family fleet that he was looking to replace. He wanted confirmation of the color name and proceeded to tell me there was only about 50 in the country at that time. Not surprising since most car dealers go the safe and easier sale route, and order white, black, grey or silver for dealer inventory stock.

The Lexus IS has been around now for about 20 years. In 2021 it received its latest update and in 2022 the all-new IS 500 F SPORT Performance brought the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 with 472-horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque to play in the premium compact sport sedan market. All the power sitting under the raised front hood gets to the road through an 8-speed direct shift automatic driving the rear wheels---there is no all-wheel drive available.

I was really looking forward to driving this car, although most all would be around my Chicago home. No track time! I have been driving a lot of electrified vehicles lately, and the “car guy” in me was needing a rumbling exhaust from a big V8…one of the few still being offered in the US.

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The IS 500 is fun to drive, for sure. It’s very sporty with a comfortable ride and confident handling. Steering is quick, comfortable, not overly heavy, with nice feedback. The brakes stop fast. Zero to sixty is in 4.4 seconds. Top speed is 149 mph. Fuel consumption is what it is. Just drive!

I’m often nervous about tire failure driving Chicago’s streets in a car with low profile summer performance tires. The grippy 235/40s up front and the 265/35s in the rear mounted on the 19-inch Matte Black BBS forged alloys ($2,450 extra) looked great. No tire issues came into play and the ride was not too jarring over road imperfections.

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Inside, the cabin has a premium look and feel. Leather trim and good quality soft-touch surfaces look classy. I’m of average frame and found the front seating very comfortable and ingress and egress quite easy.

The IS 500 is equipped with a long list of collision warning, collision intervention, and driving control assistance features. The 17-speaker 1800-watt Mark Levinson audio system delivers nice tones that suggest a long highway road trip would be very pleasant. The 10.3 inch touchscreen is smallish, in today’s world, and the IS still employs the Lexus center console trackpad.

Base price for the 2023 IS 500 F Sport Premium is $61,620 plus the $1,150 delivery fee. If the color Grecian Water is not to your taste an array of black, white, gray, silver, red and blue choices await you. And as for fuel economy, the EPA rating is 20 mpg combined.

More information and details about the 2023 Lexus IS can be found at The 2023 IS 500 F SPORT Premium with the Special Appearance Package will be limited to 150 units and went on sale last fall.

If the IS 500 is a bit much for your household, there’s the 241-horspeower 2.0-L IS 300 priced to start at $40,585. Also available is the 311-hospeower V6 IS 350 priced at $43,660 to start. Both are available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.

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All the world is abuzz about electrified vehicles. Sit back. Relax. EVs need to improve and will improve, along with the same for charging infrastructure, for them to completely replace ICE-powered vehicles. Enjoy a V8 now. Enjoy the dynamic bond with the Lexus IS 500.

Happy motoring!

© 2023 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy