2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Review: Familiar V8 Power for $56K

  • 2022 IS 500 F SPORT Performance comes with the 5.0-liter V8 carried over from the original IS F, RC F, and GS F.
  • Naturally aspirated 2UR-GSE engine makes 472hp and 395 lb-ft (peak horsepower and torque at 7,100rpm and 4,800pm, respectively). 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds.
  • Design improvements from the base model IS include a raised hood, lengthened front bumper and fenders, dark chrome trim, stacked quad exhaust, rear lip spoiler, and 19-inch Enkei wheels.
  • 8 different exterior colors to choose from, including Grecian Water pictured here.
  • Base model starts at $56,500, with the Launch Edition offered only in Incognito grey and limited to 500 examples going for $67,400.

Lexus announced it would be launching the 2022 IS 500 F Sport Performance back in February; however, it wasn’t until last month when we finally heard final specs and pricing for what will be its flagship sport sedan (for the time being), and also the first model in its F SPORT Performance line. A couple weeks ago, I was able to get behind the wheel of this Grecian Water (blue) Premium model to give it a proper whomping. I also cruised it to a couple local car meets where I was asked several questions about the car. Below are the questions that stood out that I wanted to share with you.

So, wait, this isn’t the IS F?

No, this is not the IS F, and I understand it can be super confusing. It’s called an F SPORT Performance model, which is new to the Lexus lineup.

Will there be an IS F?

There were rumors of an IS F floating around before the IS 500 dropping. Of course, Lexus won’t officially comment on future products, but there’s a lot of room for an IS F model as there’s a lot left on the table with the IS 500. The styling and aero can be more aggressive, handling and suspension can be much stiffer, braking firmer, and overall performance turned up a couple notches.

How fast is the IS 500?

For the majority of the people interested in this car, it’s fast enough. The familiar 5.0-liter 2UR-GSE V8 carried over and updated from the original 2008 IS F (which found its way to the RC F, GS F, and LC 500) has been shoehorned into this new IS 500 and makes 472hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. That’s 56 more horsepower than the original IS F with 0-60mph performance a couple tenths faster at 4.4 seconds. Peak power and torque come around at 7,100rpm and 4,800 rpm, respectively, so I really had to be on the pedal to get the most of it. The car isn’t violent, nor does it scream off the line. In fact, I noticed it doesn’t break the rear tires loose as easy as an RC F. But the thing wakes up and rumbles once you get into the mid-range, then sings all the way up to redline. I’m certain competitors like the turbocharged M340i, and Audi S4 might give it a run for its money, especially when tuned, but there’s a special warm feeling you can only get with a V8 that the IS 500 offers.

What about the transmission?

No surprises here. It comes with the familiar Aisin eight-speed automatic. With its paddle shifters, it changes gears “sport-like”, but as a Toyota GR Supra owner, I found myself impatient as I’ve been spoiled with the quicker and smoother BMW ZF transmission.

How’s the IS 500 handle? Would you take it out on the track?

Let’s get this part straight. The IS 500 wasn’t packaged or intended to be a track car, nor is it supposed to be an IS F. With that said, it still has things like a Torsen limited-slip and sport-tuned suspension that lets you drive aggressively with confidence. It leans on the soft side of things when it comes to handling, which is fine by me as I don’t want to feel every bump and crack in the road on the way home from the office. I have to remind myself this isn’t a sports car, so I can’t fault it for not being as fast or nimble as I’d like it to be…

Anything that bothered you?

Just a couple small things. The IS 500 does receive an updated touchscreen, but there’s still that dated trackpad interface, which I hope will go away soon as the new 2022 NX doesn’t have it anymore. Lexus also found it necessary to add the hated Active Sound Control that pumps artificial engine noise into the cabin. Seems silly with a V8 under the hood, no?

Who should buy the IS 500?

It’s a grown-up’s car, but not an old man’s car. It looks incredibly sharp since last year’s facelift. If you were to modify it, all you’d want to install is probably suspension, wheels, and a free-flowing exhaust. It’s a car you’d ultimately want to enjoy in original form – this is coming from a guy that can’t keep any car stock. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the perfect daily driver because it’s a V8 at the end of the day, and its fuel economy isn’t something you want to run home about at 24mpg on the highway. But for someone who loves Japanese cars and appreciates Lexus’ vision of uniting both sport and luxury, the IS 500 would rank up there on my list, especially for its price.

So how much is it?

I was shocked when it was announced that the IS 500 F SPORT Performance would start below the $60K mark at $56,500 for the base model. The Premium model I reviewed comes in at $61,000 with options such as Lexus’ advanced safety system, power rear sunshade, triple beam headlights, 10.3-inch touchscreen, and the 17-speaker 1,800-watt Mark Levinson sound system. Some legitimate upgrades, but I would still be content with the base model if given a choice.

What’s the scoop on the Launch Edition?

It’s listed at $67,400 MSRP, but I’ve heard from some folks that there’s a waitlist at dealerships for these and most certainly a mark-up. Why? Well, when you make anything limited edition, the demand skyrockets. Only 500 Launch Edition models will be made. They come exclusively in Incognito Grey (quite stunning in person), with 19-inch BBS wheels. Black and grey Ultrasuede are used throughout the interior, along with a Silver Ash wood trim. It’s not a huge change in spec, and it doesn’t offer more performance, but damn it looks good…

Would you get one?

I’ve been on the fence since I’ve driven it. As you know, I’ve owned my GR Supra for two years and still enjoy it. Would I sell the Supra for this? I know I’d miss all the unadulterated fun that comes with owning a turnkey track car. But I’m also turning the big 4-0 soon, and I’m in need of a mature daily that is comfortable to drive everywhere, whether it’s road trips to Vegas, crowded Costco parking lots, dinners in pothole-infested downtown LA, and spontaneous canyon runs in Malibu. The IS 500 would check all those boxes and does so at a price that isn’t out of the ordinary for my age nor a far cry from the $43K Supra. In an ideal world, I’d have both cars in the garage, but that might not be the most grown-up decision… Or would it?