Pre-loved: Lexus IS 2013–2021

2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport
2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport


Lexus IS is a relatively minor player in the Lexus range of upmarket cars.

It can be an excellent used car buy, particularly if it has been maintained by the book and driven sensibly – many are.

Quite a few used ones are sold by Lexus dealers which may make them more expensive, but it’s usually worth any added cost as the dealers will pick and choose which ones they keep — and which ones they move on to other car yards.

Having been relatively sedate in their shape for many years Lexus launched the third generation of its IS sedan range in July, 2013 and went way out in styling.

The Lexus IS was designed from the start to have sporty, balanced dynamics and the new shape echoes that.

As well as the upgrades in styling, all models had the option of the F Sport package with an adaptive suspension system.

They are well worth hunting down if you like to pedal your cars hard.

The Lexus IS got a major makeover in September, 2020.

Its body is 30mm wider thanks to bolder wheel arch flares.

The front and rear tracks are 45mm and 50mm wider respectively.

It also received a new grille, larger wheels and a technology update.

The bonnet is more sharply raked towards its leading edge and the slimmer headlights are positioned 43mm lower.

The new rear roofline is 15mm lower and the boot-line is 31mm lower.

These changes combined to give the MY21 IS a much squatter and more muscular appearance.

Not many are on the used market yet, but it’s worth looking out for them as they are significantly better than their predecessors.

The quality of materials and workmanship makes all Lexus models a delight in which to travel.

Lexus Remote Touch controller (joystick) on the centre console looks after audio, climate control and satellite navigation.

Lexus has an excellent Mark Levinson audio system in its upscale vehicles.

For example, the IS Sports Luxury has no fewer than 15 speakers carefully placed around the cabin for optimum sound reproduction.

Interior space is good for a rear-drive car, but this Lexus has less room than a front-wheel-drive of this size.

For earlier generations, it’s possibly best to regard it as being a 2+2 rather than a proper four-seater, if you’re intending to transport adults.

Try the back seat for size if adults will be frequently using it.

IS models covered here are better for interior space than the first ones, but check to be sure.

The boot is a surprisingly good size.

Any Japanese car maker who doesn’t provide space for golf clubs is likely to suffer severely in sales.

However, the sporty shape of the rear makes for a relatively slim boot opening and a high loading lip.

The rear seat backs fold almost flat to provide room for longer objects.

In most cases the model number refers to their engine capacity — 200 is 2.0-litre and so on.

The IS line is available as the IS 200t with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, while the IS 350 has a 3.5-litre V6 engine.

The 300h petrol-electric hybrid has a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine assisted by an electric motor.

The ‘300’ indicates the hybrid provides the sort of performance normally requiring a 3.0-litre unit.

Spare parts and servicing are reasonably priced for a car in this class.

Lexus dealers in the earlier years were fairly scarce in rural areas.

However, that has significantly changed in recent years as major country cities are now being serviced.

Some senior Toyota technicians are trained in most aspects of the car.

Toyota is, of course, the parent company of Lexus.

Insurance is generally moderate in price for a car in this price and social class and we haven’t seen any big variations between the major companies.

2013 Lexus IS 250 Sports
2013 Lexus IS 250 Sports Luxury



Prior to calling for a professional inspection look over the complete vehicle, preferably with the owner’s handbook in front of you, as these are complex cars.

You may weed out obvious duds by doing this.

At the very least, test each of the functions on the stereo, climate-control, windows and door locking.

Listen for squeals from the brake discs, even when you’re braking gently.

This could indicate they are near the end of their life, but there could be other troubles.

Go to a brake specialist to have this checked.

Look for damage to the bodywork and the interior trim as it should be close to immaculate in all areas.

We have heard a few complaints about the dash top deteriorating if the car has been out in the sun all the time.

One that’s been garaged or parked under a building is a better bet.

Make sure the engine starts virtually instantaneously, idles smoothly and doesn’t hesitate during acceleration.

During your test drive check for anything out of the ordinary in the way the car drives, sounds and feels.

The automatic transmission should operate almost imperceptibly and not hold onto any gears unnecessarily.

2016 Lexus IS 200t
2016 Lexus IS 200t Luxury



Budget on paying from $10,000 to $16,000 for a 2013 Lexus IS250 Prestige; $15,000 to $23,000 for a 2015 IS200t F Sport; $19,000 to $28,000 for a 2015 IS250 Sports Luxury; $25,000 to $33,000 for a 2016 IS350 Sports Luxury; $32,000 to $43,000 for a 2018 IS350 F Sport; $39,000 to $52,000 for a 2020 IS300h F Sport; and $42,000 to $57,000 for a 2021 IS300 F Sport.

2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport interior
2013 Lexus IS 350 F Sport interior



Used car prices have generally increased during the period of new car stock shortages so hunt around for the best deal.

Start looking at adverts for used vehicles several months before you intend buying.

That way you can see the prices being asked and whether they are rising and falling as dealers need to clear stock due to overcrowding.

Keep an eye on adverts for new cars that say there are specials on particular models.

These can mean a lot of traded-in cars are taking up too much space in the yards and will be discounted to get rid of them.

If checking a used car at a dealership look at other cars on the lot. 

This can give you an insight to the quality of vehicles in which the dealer specialises.

If buying privately ask for proof of ownership of the vehicle and make sure it is covered for you taking a test drive.

Take a slow walk around any car you’re considering, looking for obvious defects.

It amuses us how many people dive into tiny details, only to later discover a major ding somewhere on the other side of the car.

Ideally any road test of a car you’re getting serious about should be done with the engine stone cold. Early morning is best.

If you’re serious about buying a vehicle, tell the seller you would like to take it for a good long test drive.

If they insist on coming that’s understandable, but try to avoid them ‘selling” the car to you.

Put bluntly, ask them to shut up,

In their later years, cars with a reputation for being long lived and trouble free sometimes attract buyers who have no intention of ever servicing them.

The next owner may suffer as a result.

2009 Lexus IS 250C F Sport convertible
2009 Lexus IS 250C F Sport convertible



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