The current generation Lexus IS certainly has plenty going for it. A major revamp of its exterior styling helped the sedan bring some much-needed freshness into its flanks, while a set of interior tweaks improved its technology game. But perhaps the one thing that has been missing is a true range-topping engine. The naturally aspirated V6 was the default choice, but its age is getting harder to hide, and it couldn’t hold the mustard against a world where turbocharging is increasingly becoming the new normal. The Japanese luxury brand is out to change that and has unveiled the 2022 Lexus IS 500. Here are some key things to know about the newest member of the IS family.
Styling Changes Enhance IS 500’s Credentials
The exterior styling of the 2022 IS 500 might not seem too radically different from its mainstream siblings at first glance, but look closer, and you will find that Lexus designers have made several changes to help the sedan embrace its range-topping status. The hood has been given a slight bulge which helps increase clearance by 2.0 inches and allows the engine to fit. Enkei sourced 19-inch wheels are nestled into the wider fenders, and they even come with a slick split style 10-spoke design. Fans of the current generation RC F and the long-departed IS F will recognize the stacked exhaust tips that poke proudly out the rear diffuser. Unlike the aforementioned models, the IS 500 is not a fully hardcore F variant. Still, the presence of these particular pipes does allow the car to have a noticeable family link to those models.
The IS 500’s interior benefits from a more modest set of tweaks, with a heated steering wheel being a welcome piece of standard equipment and a model exclusive startup animation in the instrument cluster. There are also different pedal designs, but buyers looking for a more radical transformation will not find it here with the seats and even the dashboard treatments being largely carried over from other IS models.
Lock and Load For Maximum IS 500 Driving Fun
While the exterior and the interior prefer to take a more restrained approach to the art of sporty styling, it’s evident that Lexus’s powertrain engineers didn’t get the memo. The naturally aspirated V6 has been ripped away and in its place is a 5.0 liter naturally aspirated V8. While it’s interesting to see the brand once again buck the curve by going for yet another naturally aspirated engine, we’re confident that this initial misgiving will give way once you have a chance to go behind the wheel.
The big V8 makes 473 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque, allowing the tidy four-door to leap its way to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. An eight-speed automatic is the sole transmission choice (sorry manual fans), but Lexus claims that the automatic will help the IS 500 in fuel economy, with the brand claiming that the model can achieve 24 mpg in freeway driving.
In addition to the performance it already has, the IS 500 also launched the all-new F Sport Performance trim family. Following the lead of some of its rivals, the F Sport Performance lineup will have slightly more hardcore vehicles than their mainstream cousins but are a peg below more formal F models. Thankfully, the bigger engine does not add too much to the overall curb weight, with the upgrade only adding 143 lbs of extra weight versus that of a comparable IS 350 F Sport.
Handling Is Just As Fun
Thankfully the IS 500 goes far beyond straight-line sprints, with the car also having potent handling chops as well. This is thanks to the Dynamic Handling Package that adds an adaptive suspension and a Torsen Limited Slip Differential to the IS. Other goodies include a Yamaha sourced rear damper that helps enhance the car’s rigidity which translates into better high-speed handling. Here’s hoping it delivers on that when used in the real world
Braking has also been beefed up with all IS 500s coming equipped with 14-inch front rotors and 12.7 inch rear rotors. This is a noticeable increase compared to the IS 350’s hardware, but again, this is more of a modest upgrade that should make a noticeable impact on weekend jaunts up to more remote parts of town.
When Can I Buy 2022 IS 500?
Lexus is not ready to reveal formal pricing for the IS 500 yet but did confirm that the first units will begin making their way to dealerships this fall. We look forward to seeing the final color roster for the IS 500 and what options can be equipped for the car. The F Sport Performance lineup will also grow to include more models, but it’s unknown what will be next to receive it. One prominent suspect is the Lexus RX CUV. The RX is one of the best-selling utility models in the brand’s lineup. The addition of an F Sport Performance variant would certainly help enhance its fun factor slightly, even if it’s not as radical of a transformation as the Lexus IS.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.