2022 Lexus IS 500 Review: Aggressive But Not Appealing

2022 Lexus IS 500
The car features fresh Lexus IS design across its entire body. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Lexus IS was significantly refreshed for the 2021 model year, with improved dynamics and a fresh face. Its interior was given a slightly less noticeable upgrade. Reviews have been mixed.

Many loved the way the car drove, saying that it was more planted than ever before and could be aggressive when necessary but ragged on the fact that the interior is aesthetically and technologically dated.

The revised 2021 Lexus IS 300 base model is powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 241 horsepower. That's the least powerful of the car's available engines. Moving up through the trim levels gives buyers access to either a 260- or or 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6.

In its most performance-focused variant at the time of its debut, the Lexus IS 350 had drive dynamics and power perfectly suited for taking on the Audi A3 and Acura TLX.

Then Lexus said the automotive equivalent of "hold my beer".

The new, top-tier 2022 Lexus IS 500 is on its way, packed with a 5.0-liter V8 engine that uses every inch of space possible under the car's hood to deliver 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. The premium arm of Toyota has paired the engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

2022 Lexus IS 500
Lexus has replaced the available four- and six-cylinder power plants with a V8 in this model. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

With those numbers and that engine, driving the model should be a fun experience. Want to very rapidly get up to speed on the highway? You should be able to. Want to annoy your quiet suburban neighborhood with the rumble of a V8 first thing in the morning? You should be able to.

The Lexus IS 500 does not pass the visceral drive test. Sure, it's got power. Sure, it's got solid drive dynamics. However, none of the formula is especially inspiring. That's good for when you're driving around town and want steady throttle but in the moments when you'd like more power, you have to firmly put the pedal down to get what you're really after.

Its front engine, rear-wheel drive setup doesn't give the car a sporty feel, however it feels solidly attached to the ground and stable on the street.

2022 Lexus IS 500
The Lexus IS 500 wears a unique set of 19-inch wheels. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Lexus says that the model gets from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, which is a perfectly reasonable time.

The transmission of the car is smooth-shifting at low speed and in Normal drive modes. Changing it to Sport or Sport+ makes the transmission sloppy and unable to deliver the thrill that you are likely seeking.

Even in the sportiest drive mode, making the oomph of power as G-forces are exerted on your body a mundane event. In this way, it's much like an electric vehicle, which doesn't use a transmission, but rather delivers straight power.

Steering inputs offer no further confidence and require no additional input than the traditional IS. The limited-slip differential out back keeps the car from breaking loose if you head into a corner a little too hot, but braking isn't strong enough to hold up over a long period of time.

2022 Lexus IS 500
The test model was outfitted with red upholstery. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The interior of the car remains unchanged from the traditional IS. There's still a Touch Pad and a 10.3-inch infotainment screen run by a Lexus Enform system that is hopelessly designed to create as many menu navigation challenges as possible, it seems.

The exterior of the vehicle doesn't differ much from the traditional IS either aside from unique 19-inch wheels, a very small decklid spoiler, and some badging changes.

Lexus has priced the model at $56,500, which is far less than the German competition, higher than the Acura TLX Type S, and about the same as the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. You can spend about the same and get a new BMW 4 Series, a car that delivers a far superior drive and technology experience, albeit with slightly less power.

There's nothing viscerally appealing about the 2022 Lexus IS 500, despite its V8, but there's plenty that is disappointing because of the mechanics that the V8 is paired with. That's enough reason to pass on the model.