The new 2021 Lexus IS is set to debut later tonight on Facebook, but anybody with a strong concept of how the American news cycle works knows that’s too long for any of us to wait—but we don’t have to, because the full design has already leaked online.
My most vivid memory of the current-gen Lexus IS is going to my Crown Heights barber, who had a white IS, and talking to him about how he was getting a new car and how he was talking to someone about getting their BMW M5. My next haircut, there was a grey Lexus IS outside. He bought the same car again.
Somehow, that is the Lexus IS in a nutshell for me. Dependable, likable enough to buy twice, but not good enough to stop me from judging my barber.
AllCarNews dropped a stack of leaked images on Instagram (via CarAdvice):
I’m pleased to say the 2021 IS keeps some of the weirder visual flare of the outgoing model, including a swooping line that droops down from the corners of the taillight bar, down between the wheel and the rear door. The “spindle” Lexus grille is back, but this time it’s more flower petal than full-on predator, and it seems the designers have pulled in the dimensions a bit to, ironically enough, let the design breathe a little bit.
The door still stretches up past the car’s shoulder line, eating into the rear-window space on the rear doors, but maintaining the outgoing car’s signature notch.
Inside, the car shockingly keeps pretty much the same dashboard layout. The push-to-start button is in the same weird dedicated notch behind the steering wheel, the radio unit seems to be the exact same, with some surface cosmetic upgrades, and some of the air vents have adopted a circular shape over the outgoing car’s rectangles.
It seems like there’s an updated driver display as well, likely heavily or fully digitized, and the car will get the new Lexus trackpad infotainment interface. But beyond that, Lexus really didn’t do a lot with the interior here. Kind of unfortunate, as it already looks outdated.
From the rear view we can see just how flared the wheel arches are now, as well as in the front, making for a low, sporty stance. I think sporty is the right direction for this car, and it checks out considering the F-Sport trim is making a comeback, according to the latest teaser.
We don’t know much else about the car yet, other than that the base trim will still be called the IS350. But overall I think it’s a big improvement over the old car. The lines are straighter and flow with more connection and purpose, and the design overall feels like it’s finally settling the chaotic Lexus design language into some sort of working harmony.
Stick around for 7 p.m. tonight on the Lexus Facebook, or after on Jalopnik, to find out more about the powertrain and other details for the new IS. As much as I like the new exterior, it’s really not much of an overhaul. Makes me even more sad Infiniti isn’t getting the same love and care as Acura and Lexus these days.