2022 Lexus IS 500: The Last Naturally Aspirated Performance Sedan

If you’re searching for a compact sports sedan and it must have a naturally aspirated engine, look no further than the 2022 Lexus IS 500. This latest entry is the last of its kind, there are no turbochargers under the hood and it puts its power down to the rear wheels. The last time automakers used that combo was in the late 2000s when the Lexus IS F, E90/E92/E93 BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63, and Audi RS 5 all had some kind of V8 under the hood. Now, the IS 500 is the last one standing as everyone has jumped on the turbocharged bandwagon.

While all of the IS F’s competitors have gone up a notch in the performance ladder, the 2022 Lexus IS 500 is essentially a repositioning. Think of this more as a rival to the BMW M340i, Audi S4, Mercedes-AMG C43, and Acura TLX Type S. Lexus has been upfront in putting this car against mid-level competitors because the IS 500 doesn’t have all the go-fast goodies that make up a full-fledged F car like the RC F and the discontinued GS F. The standard 19-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in summer performance tires; however, they’re not as sticky as the ones found in the RC F. You also don’t get the torque-vectoring rear axle in the IS 500 as you would in the RC F.

Powering the 2022 Lexus IS 500 is a 5.0-liter V8 with 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. This is the same unit found in the RC F and LC 500, meaning it’s a high-revving monster with a sweet exhaust note. Your only transmission choice is an eight-speed automatic. Unlike its competitors, the IS 500’s engine is a high-revving unit and will give you a different experience from a turbocharged powertrain. Lexus says the IS 500 can hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. However, you can’t get this model in AWD configuration. The suspension calibration is also closer to the IS 350 F Sport, meaning the IS 500 will be more livable on a daily basis. Standard on all IS 500s is the Dynamic Handling package, which adds a limited-slip differential and adaptive variable suspension. You also get larger brake pads standard.

Look closely at the IS 500’s design cues and you’ll notice that it has the same exterior styling treatment as other F Sport models. That means a blacked-out spindle grille and no fog lights. The hood has been raised two inches and the front bumper has been lengthened to accommodate the V8 engine. In the rear, you’ll find quad exhaust tips, hinting at the power under the hood. Inside, you get suede-like inserts instead of leather. Otherwise, the IS 500’s interior remains similar to other F Sport models minus the extra gauges found in full-on F cars.

A 2022 Lexus IS 500 Launch Edition model will be available but limited only to 500 units. It will be finished in a gray exterior color called Incognito and feature lightweight matte black 19-inch BBS wheels. Inside, you get black and gray suede-like upholstery, serialized Launch Edition badges, silver wood trim with an F Sport Performance badge, and a gauge cluster with a special animation.

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