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As has become our custom here at my.IS, we bring you the latest updates and information from Consumer Reports' twice-yearly (April Auto Issue and November New Car Preview) issues devoted solely to automotive consumer and reliability information.

The first piece of information we find is a listing of the Most Miles Per Gallon Midsized & Large Sedans, based on CR's real-world overall (mixed city/highway) tests. The results show the Lexus IS 250 in a 3-way tie for 5th place:

<UL><LI>1) Toyota Camry Hybrid - 34 mpg
<LI>2) Nissan Altima Hybrid - 32 mpg
<LI>3) Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec (diesel) - 29 mpg
<LI>4) Nissan Altima 2.5S - 25 mpg
<LI>5) (tie) Lexus IS250, Toyota Camry LE (4 cyl) and Volkswagen Passat 2.0T - 24 mpg</UL>
Note, however, that the first three positions are occupied by hybrid and diesel powerplants. The Lexus IS250 is only one mile per gallon down on the non-hybrid Nissan Altima, and has the most powerful engine out of the non-diesel cars listed above.

The Lexus IS (presumably, both generations) is also listed as one of CR's Ten Best Used Cars. As they describe it, these models scored well in our tests, were recommended when new, and have had multiple model-years of better-than-average reliability. The Lexus IS is listed fourth, behind its corporate mates the Toyota Prius, Lexus LS and Toyota Highlander.

The 2008 Lexus IS, in its rear-wheel-drive versions, is predicted to be among the Most Reliable New Cars. Again, it placed fourth in this category, this time behind its big brother Lexus GS450h, the Acura TSX and the Infiniti M.

A glance at the $30,000-$45,000 Sedans Vehicle Ratings CR Quick Recommendations reveals little change versus the previous November 2007 ratings, the major ones being the exit of the Toyota Camry Hybrid (it was bumped back to the $25,000-$30,000 sedans category) and the appearance of the 2nd-generation Cadillac CTS, which, with the base, non-direct-injected V6 tied the Lexus IS250's 84 points. Here are the rankings:

<UL><LI>1) Infiniti G35 (RWD) (92 points)
<LI>2) Lexus ES 350 (91 points)
<LI>3) Acura TL (90 points)
<LI>4) (tie) Toyota Avalon & Volkswagen Passat 3.6 (89 points)
<LI>5) Infiniti G35X (AWD) (87 points)
<LI>6) Nissan Maxima (85 points)
<LI>7) (tie) Lexus IS 250 & Cadillac CTS (84 points)</UL>
<P>Nevertheless, CR recommends the Lexus IS as a Sporty and Compact sedan, alongside, but just ahead of the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4. This is Consumer Reports' summary of the Lexus IS250's capabilities:

<UL><LI><B>Predicted Reliability:</B> Much Better than Average
<LI><B>Owner Satisfaction:</B> Better than Average
<LI><B>Owner Cost:</B> Average
<LI><B>Safety:</B> Much Better than Average
<LI><B>Highs:</B> Transmission, braking, fuel economy, fit & finish, crash-test results, reliability
<LI><B>Lows:</B> Ride, rear seat, lacks sportiness</UL>
The individual Vehicle Profile for the 2nd-generation Lexus IS says that it is one of Consumer Reports Recommended vehicles, with Much Better than Average Reliability, Better than Average Satisfaction and Average Owner Cost. Here's how they summarize the 2nd-generation Lexus IS:

<P>Lexus' small rear-wheel-drive sedan has a plush, quiet interior with simple controls, but it lacks the sporty feel of some competitors. Standard stability control makes handling secure but it is not very sporty, partly because the steering lacks feedback. The ride is jittery. The base 2.5-liter V6 is refined and delivers quick acceleration, and fuel economy is good. The optional 3.5-liter V6 is very strong. All-wheel-drive is optional on the IS250. The front cabin is tight, and the rear seat is extremely cramped. IIHS crash-test results have been impressive. A high-performance, V8-powered F model is new for 2008.

Also new for 2008 are a series of Safety Ratings. First comes the Consumer Reports Safety Assessment. Here, the 2nd-generation Lexus IS ranked Much Better than Average in Overall Safety (A combination of Consumer Reports' accident-avoidance score with IIHS [Insurance Institute for Highway Safety] and NHTSA [National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration] crash-test results, with points deducted if ESC [electronic stability control] is optional or unavailable); Much Better than Average in Accident Avoidance (A composite from Consumer Reports' track tests, including braking and emergency-handling and, to a lesser extent, driving position, visibility, acceleration and seat comfort); and Better than Average in Crash Protection (A combination of IIHS and NHTSA crash-test scores).

The chart then goes on to list individual Crash & Rollover Tests as follows:
<UL><LI><B>IIHS Offset Frontal:</B> Good (the highest possible rating)
<LI><B>IIHS Side:</B> Good
<LI><B>IIHS Rear:</B> Acceptable (the second-highest rating)
<LI><B>NHTSA Full Frontal Impact - Driver's Side:</B> Moderate Injury Likely (the second-highest rating)
<LI><B>NHTSA Full Frontal Impact - Passenger's Side:</B> Moderate Injury Likely
<LI><B>NHTSA Side Impact - Driver:</B> No Injury or Minor Injury Likely (the highest possible rating)
<LI><B>NHTSA Side Impact - Rear Passengers:</B> Moderate Injury Likely
<LI><B>NHTSA Rollover Rating:</B> No Injury or Minor Injury Likely for both RWD and AWD models</UL>
Finally comes a list of Safety Features, consisting of electronic stability control; antilock brakes; side air bags for front and rear seats; and curtain airbags. All are standard on the 2nd-generation Lexus IS except for rear side air bags, which are unavailable.

<P>Among their Reliable Used Cars, Consumer Reports recommends the 2001 Lexus IS300 in the $16,000-$18,000 price range, the 2002 Lexus IS300 in the $18,000-$20,000 price range, the 2003 Lexus IS300 in the $20,000-$24,000 price range, the 2004 and 2006 Lexus IS in the $24,000-$30,000 price range, and the 2007 Lexus IS250/350 in the $30,000 and up price range. The curious omission of the 2005 IS300 is probably due only to its extremely low sales numbers, which also makes it the only Lexus IS model year that doesn't appear in CR's vaunted Reliability Ratings.

<P>And speaking of those Reliability Ratings, here's what Consumer Reports tells us about the Lexus IS from the 2002 to 2007 model years (except 2005, and, yes, the 2001s are now too old to appear in their latest charts):

<P><B>Engine, major</B> <I>(Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain)</I>
Much Better than Average
<P><B>Engine, minor</B> <I>(Oil leaks, timing belt, accessory belts, engine mounts, engine knock or ping)</I>
Much Better than Average
<P><B>Engine Cooling</B> <I>(Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007
Better than Average for 2003
<P><B>Transmission, major</B> <I>(Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, premature clutch replacement)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2006 and 2007
Better than Average for 2003
Average for 2002 and 2004
<P><B>Transmission, minor</B> <I>(Gear selector and linkage, coolers and lines, rough shifting, slipping transmission, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, hydraulics [clutch master or slave cylinder])</I>
Much Better than Average for 2004, 2006 and 2007
Better than Average for 2002
Average for 2003
<P><B>Drive System</B> <I>(Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, wheel bearing, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, stability control, electrical failure)</I><BR> Much Better than Average
<P><B>Fuel System</B> <I>(Check-engine light, sensors [includes O2 or oxygen sensor], emission control devices [includes EGR], engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel tank, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007
Average for 2002
<P><B>Electrical</B> <I>(Alternator, starter, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure, sensors or module)</I>
Much Better than Average
<P><B>Climate system</B> <I>(Blower [fan] motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, defrost, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure)</I>
Much Better than Average
<P><B>Suspension</B> <I>(Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage [includes rack & pinion], power steering, wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2003, 2006 and 2007
Better than Average for 2002 and 2004
<P><B>Brakes</B> <I>(Premature wear, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, master cylinder, calipers, antilock system [ABS], parking brake, brake failure)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007
Worse than Average for 2006
<P><B>Exhaust</B> <I>(Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007
Better than Average for 2002
<P><B>Paint/Trim</B> <I>(Paint [fading, chalking, cracking or peeling], loose exterior trim or moldings, rust)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007
Average for 2004
<P><B>Body Integrity</B> <I>(Squeaks or rattles, seals and/or weather-stripping, air or water leaks, loose interior trim and moldings, wind noise)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2002 and 2003
Better than Average for 2004 and 2006
Average for 2007
<P><B>Body Hardware</B> <I>(Windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, sliding doors, mirrors, seat mechanism, seat belts, sunroof, convertible top, glass defects)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007
Better than Average for 2006
<P><B>Power Equipment and Accessories</B> <I>(Cruise control, heated or cooled seats, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, alarm or security system, backup camera/ sensors)</I>
Much Better than Average
<P><B>Audio system</B> <I>(Navigation systems, radio speakers, CD or DVD player and changer, cassette player, antenna, satellite radio, video screen, communication system)</I>
Much Better than Average for 2007
Average for 2003 and 2004
Worse than Average for 2006
Much Worse than Average for 2002
Much Better than Average for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007
Better than Average for 2006
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