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2024 Lexus IS 500 Pros and Cons: All About That V8

Nico DeMattia
Nico DeMattia

Lexus’ third and current generation IS is on life support. Having launched in 2013, it’s over a decade old and every one of its competitors is far fresher. The BMW 3 Series, Genesis G70, Mercedes C-Class, and Acura TLX are all significantly newer and they feel it. However, Lexus did something that gave the IS just enough life to compete with its fresh-legged rivals—add a V8.

Now that Mercedes-AMG dropped the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 from its C63 in favor of a hybrid four-cylinder setup (yuck), the 2024 Lexus IS 500 is the only car left in the segment packing eight cylinders. Its 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 is the same one you’ll find in the LC 500 and RC F. And while the engine is familiar at this point having powered several Lexus models over the years, its silky smooth power delivery and spine-tingling noise has not gotten old. Plus, the incongruity of having such an engine in a small, rear-wheel-drive sedan gives the aging Lexus IS a huge boost.

But is that boost big enough? This generation of Lexus IS was never a dynamite sport sedan to begin with; now that it feels dated, its pitfalls are magnified. Is the sensational V8 special enough to mask the IS’ flaws?

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2024 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Specs

Pros

Despite its age, there’s still a lot to like about the IS 500. But it all starts with that engine. Lexus’ 5.0-liter V8 is a thing of joy. Few engines on this planet deliver the sort of decadently smooth, razor-sharp responses that Lexus’ V8 does. Part of its charm is its normal aspiration, without any laggy turbochargers getting in the way. Even the best turbocharged engines feel lazy by comparison.

But its responsiveness isn’t the best part. Oh no, the best part is the noise. Let that glorious V8 rev out near redline and you’ll hear one of the gnarliest engine noises in the business. It’s loud and violent sounding but also musical. When you hear that sort of noise in a sensible, ordinary sedan like the IS, it’s impossible to not grin from ear to ear.

It looks good, too. The IS might be old but Lexus has continued to update its design over the years and it looks sharp. The big “Predator” grille is aging well, its headlights are sharp, and its rear end looks muscular. I also love the optional 19-inch forged wheels as they’re the perfect size and not overly flashy. It’s one of the more handsome sedans in the segment.

One thing Lexus has continued to use in the IS is the sliding tachometer in the instruments. The central tach can slide over to the right of the gauge cluster with the push of a button, providing more info to the driver if they need it. While a bit gimmicky, it’s fun to see a mechanical gauge function in this world of digital screens.