Given that the 2011 model year brought a somewhat unexpected second mid-term facelift and a plethora of other changes, it is no surprise that changes for 2012 consist of minimal details. The most apparent, and applicable to all IS models (and, in fact, to the entire Lexus line), is the substitution of the dark gray Smoky Granite Mica (paint code 1G0) for the seemingly lighter Nebula Gray Pearl (paint code 1H9). Also, officially unconfirmed Internet chatter suggests that the "Trac Off" button migrates from the right to the left of the steering column, and that the coin holder(s) to the left of the steering column, long a Lexus IS fixture, disappear for 2012. In addition, other minor changes apply as follows:
IS 250 and IS 350 sedans
An additional change in the exterior color palette for 2012 IS V6 sedans is the elimination of the hue-shifting baby bluish Glacier Frost Mica (paint code 074) in favor of the totally unrelated but currently trendy rich brown Fire Agate Pearl (paint code 4V3) which, after debuting last year in the Lexus CT line spreads not only to the IS V6 sedans but to the GX SUV and the upcoming 2013 GS as well.
Following on the numerous fuel economy tweaks for 2011 IS V6 models (detailed in the eighth paragraph of our The Lexus IS, IS C and IS F for 2011 in the United States
article from our archives and further explained in a follow-up story
), the 2012 model year sees further variations on the U.S. EPA cycle numbers versus 2011. The IS 250 Manual sees highway fuel economy increase by 1 mile per gallon (from 27 mpg in 2011 to 28 mpg in 2012), and there is also a mysterious, unexplained 1 mpg bump in the combined city/highway figure for the 2012 IS 250 RWD Automatic (from 24 mpg in 2011 to 25 mpg in 2012), even though individual figures remain at 21 mpg city/ 30 mpg highway for both model years. Conversely, the IS 350 RWD sedan sees a drop in its city highway fuel economy figure from 20 mpg in 2011 to 19 mpg in 2012. Sounds like truth in advertising to this author, since my admittedly leadfooted driving style in my 2011 IS 350 F-Sport makes me hard-pressed to match even 19 mpg, let alone 20. Yes, yes, I know the old "your mileage may vary" disclaimer canard, and will say that "Lexus is at fault" for making the powertrain sound so awesome when you floor it and, even with the stock exhaust, lets out such a sexy growl as the acceleration pushes you back in your seat and the tachometer ring lights up in yellow and then red... OK, enough off-topic rambling, and we must note that city and combined fuel economy figures remain unchanged for 2012. Redressing the balance, the new-for-2011 IS 350 AWD sedan reports EPA fuel economy improvements for 2012 (city mileage goes from 25 mpg in 2011 to 26 mpg in 2012 and combined mileage goes from 20 mpg in 2011 to 21 mpg in 2012, with highway mileage remaining the same).
Lexus has also announced an across-the-board $300 base MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) increase for all 2012 IS V6 sedans versus final 2011 prices
. This puts 2012 base prices at $33,595 for the IS 250 Manual; $34,765 for the IS 250 RWD Automatic; $37,225 for the IS 250 AWD; $40,020 for the IS 350 RWD and $42,480 for the IS 350 AWD.
IS 250 and IS 350 convertibles
The IS convertibles remain virtually unchanged for 2012, their third model year. A 2012 Lexus IS C press release on the Toyota USA Newsroom
mentions "new 18-inch 5-spoke wheels with Liquid Graphite finish". It is unclear whether this refers to an all-new wheel design or to a new Liquid Graphite finish on the existing 18-inch 5-spoke wheels, but, after visiting the current Lexus Japan IS C page and its multiple links
, we suspect the latter is the case. The IS 250 Manual and IS 250 / IS 350 RWD Automatic fuel economy revisions detailed in the third paragraph above also apply to their convertible counterparts. Unlike the sedans, however, 2012 IS C base MSRP prices remain unchanged versus final 2011 pricing.
The changes to the 2012 Lexus IS F have been the subject of murky misinformation, which, unfortunately, we can only partially clarify. This author, quite frankly, is skeptical of the Motor Ward
description of "stronger stabilizer bars, new bearings and a slightly revised suspension geometry". That's so 2011. A broader consensus, from the Toyota USA Newsroom
, Australia's CarPoint.com.au
and Spain's Autopista.Es
informs us that the main, and possibly sole suspension component change for 2012 is a set of Sachs shock absorbers, sourced from the German ZF affiliate. Another Australian publication, GoAuto
, best describes them as "low-friction, low-viscosity dampers made by Sachs to improve initial bump compliance while at the same time slightly stiffening the springs all round to ensure flat cornering. Lexus engineers say the new set-up also improves high speed response to steering inputs." Club Lexus member spwolf further informs us
that the shocks in question are ZF Sachs' MT 45/13 monotube design.
Another crucial change is the use of half-inch wider wheels all around, with the front wheels going from 19" x 8" in 2011 to 19" x 8.5" in 2012, and the rear wheels going from 19" x 9" in 2011 to 19" x 9.5" in 2012. The front tire size remains at 225/40R19 for 2012, but the rear tires are now larger, at 265/35R19 (versus the previous 225/40R19s). As to the wheels themselves, here's where things get really interesting and murky. In Japan
, Lexus offers a trio of different BBS wheel designs: the original asymmetrical 10-spoke wheels offered in the U.S. for the 2008 and 2009 model years, the "trident" wheels offered in the U.S. in 2010-11 and a new-for 2012 14-spoke design shown at the top of this story. The new wheels remind pundits of the 19" Y Spoke (Style 359M) wheels found on Competition Package-equipped E90 Sedan/E92 Coupe BMW M3s or of BBS's own aftermarket CH wheels. While most if not all hints point to Europe and Australia getting the new 14-spoke wheels, the picture is less clear in the U.S. The 2012 IS F Product Information PDF document
and Lexus Announces Prices for 2012 Models news release
both refer to a new wheel design (presumably the 14 Y-spoke wheels), while the main 2012 IS F official news release
refers to "all-new 19-inch forged-alloy wheels by BBS® with a distinct dark-gray finish and an asymmetrical 10-spoke design". Does this mean a return to the original-style 2008-9 wheels? Possibly, but this author doubts it, instead suspecting an unedited and sloppy cut-and-paste from an older IS F press release. We'd bet on the newest 14 Y-spoke wheels coming to the U.S. for 2012 as well. As to Canada, it's anybody's guess. They seemingly kept the original asymmetrical 10-spoke wheels for all four years of the IS F model run to date, and, to our knowledge, they have yet to reveal 2012 IS F information.
Much like the IS F's wheel design, the third interior trim choice after black and two-tone Alpine white/Black has changed every couple of years or so, going from the 2009-10 Terra Cotta/Black to 2011's Orange/Black to a new Red/Black two-tone for 2012, as shown in the Lexus Japan IS F Design/Color/Interior page
. It also features a red leather shift knob and a red leather and silver-trimmed steering wheel insert.
For 2012, the IS F sees a 1.1%, or $640 jump in its base MSRP, from 2011's final $60,660 to $61,300 for 2012.