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2016 Lexus IS 200t Is Turbocharged Style

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The new look of Lexus is polarizing, to say the least. Some people love the bold, almost busy look of the new Lexus sedans and crossovers, others are put off by the huge grille work and abundance of body lines. Yet comparatively speaking, the 2016 Lexus IS 200t has more style than many of the brand’s sedans.

This comes from the IS models’ smaller grille through the visual illusion of the lower-sloping hood that diminishes the black grille’s profile. The look of the IS is still polarizing, but has a more acceptable appeal than some of its brethren. We also like the 2016 IS 200tb s sport coupe styling, the deep Euro-notch in the rear pillar, and the de-emphasized rear wheel well and beautiful wheel options.

The real news for the 2016 IS 200t is the new turbocharged engine under its hood. Turbos are new to the Lexus brand and this 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo has been introduced into several of the luxury maker’s small and midsized vehicles. The little power plant puts out 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and in the IS 200t, it’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive. The EPA rates this combination at 26 mpg combined, with 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

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The IS 200t is replacing the outgoing IS 250 with its non-turbo and sluggish 2.5L four. The new turbo 2.0 in the IS 200t is a great little goer, but there is a bit of turbo lag to get used to. That lag is far more noticeable in other Lexus models with this engine, such as the GS 200t and the NX 200t, however, so we attribute some gains in the more usable IS 200t to the transmission’s shift tuning. It seems to be a little quicker on the uptake, especially when suddenly pressed via the throttle.

Add in the very well-defined steering and confident sport handling of the 2016 Lexus IS 200t and you have a very fun car to drive. This is definitely a sports sedan and may be one of the few that Lexus has made that truly fits that description.

As with all Lexus models, the interior is extremely well done. Top shelf materials are found throughout with plenty of padding and soft-touch to keep it feeling luxurious. The drivers’ cockpit is nicely laid out with an easy-to-read instrument cluster and plenty of legroom and headroom. The front passenger is likewise treated to a spacious, but comforting experience with plenty of seat bolstering to keep one in place when the driving gets spirited.

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The back seats are large enough for adults, provided they aren’t too tall, and trunk space is about average for the class (almost 14 cubic feet). The only drawback to the IS 200t is what causes concern in every Lexus: the infotainment interface. The large infotainment screen is easy to read and well-done, but the interface it uses, the latest edition of Lexus Remote Touch, is horrible to navigate. The mouse-like control pad and its clunky selector movement are so terrible to use that it’s hard to describe them without just sounding mean. Users will find themselves using voice control whenever possible, which is better, but still tedious.

Luckily, standard equipment in the IS 200t is plentiful. Xenon headlamps, LED running lights, heated mirrors, a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone climate controls, eight-way power seats up front, and premium vinyl upholstery are all included. So are satellite radio, two USB ports, a CD player, and an 8-inch color display for infotainment.

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Package options vary by region of purchase, but include LED headlights, heated and vented front seats, and a rearview camera. Automatic wipers and blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic are also available. We also recommend the 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo upgrade. For those wanting serious interior luxury, grab the Luxury package with its wood trim.

All in all, we really enjoyed the 2016 Lexus IS 200t. It’s a very fun car to drive with a lot of excellent amenities, and well worth looking at as an entry-level sport sedan buyer.

Aaron Turpen is a freelance automotive journalist and writer living in Wyoming, USA. You can find him at AaronOnAutos.com and CarNewsCafe.com.