New Lexus IS Debuts at NAIAS but U.S. Won’t Get Hybrid Versions

At some point these large grilles or snouts become a parody of  auto design by offering a kid’s toy look.

The revised Lexus IS compact sport sedan will make its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week with the latest Lexus snout grille. The freshened versions of the rear-drive and all-wheel-drive IS model range – BMW wanna be’s – include IS 250, IS 350, and the first IS hybrid, the 300h, which will be available in Europe, Japan and other international markets, but not the U.S where the $33,000 (and higher) Lexus CT220h – a hatchback derived econobox – is already available.

The CT220h carries over into the 2013 model year and beyond with no significant changes. CT is rated  at an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 42 mpg combined, 43 mpg city and 40 mpg highway using regular 87-octane gasoline. Moreover, the CT 200h can be operated under certain conditions in a driver selectable EV mode, which generates zero emissions for a block or two.

New IS F Sport models will be available across the range with a unique grille and front bumper design whereby the  ‘waistline’ of the grille is higher than on standard models, increasing the area of the lower grille thereby making it capable of drawing in larger volumes of cooling air needed for the higher output powerplant used.

Lexus claims the new IS interior design creates an “ergonomically ideal environment from within, which the driver can fully exploit the new Lexus compact sedan’s superb driving dynamics.”

Lexus IS will offer two systems integrating HD Radio, digital audio entertainment and real-time traffic and weather information. For vehicles with the optional navigation system, Lexus will provide a digital audio and navigation system that is able to receive digital traffic and weather information from both HD Radio stations and the cell phone network, using the driver’s Smartphone connected with the Lexus Enform system. For vehicles without navigation, Lexus will offer a standard premium Display Audio system complete with subscription-free traffic maps and weather information, all delivered by HD Radio stations across the country.

Also following the ‘get bigger and  heavier’ trend exhibited by most if not all compact sedans as they evolve, the new IS grows larger in width as well as a longer wheelbase that makes the rear seat less cramped. Lexus is touting that combined with a thinner front seat design, it has best-in-class knee room and improved accessibility – just hold your breath getting into the rear, and don’t try to get three adults back there.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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