One of the most luxurious and technologically advanced sedans of it’s time, the Lexus IS XE20, enters the Almost Cars arena. Find out why it’s worth buying this luxury Avensis, in today’s article.

What do you mean, Lexus IS XE20? Wasn’t the first IS the one that came to Europe? Nope, the first generation was here too, but because Lexus was just starting out, too few rushed to buy one. Especially when you consider that Lexus was born in 1989 and is not a brand with tradition.

Why don’t we europeans buy much into Lexus?

  • Because it’s not a traditional luxury brand like Mercedes, BMW, Audi, or Jaguar. Buying a Lexus says that you’re on a different path in life than most wealthy people. And it falls into the same category of alternative luxury as Jaguar, only even more obscure.
  • And here comes the second part, namely the fact that Lexus is a luxury brand with very expensive cars. I don’t even understand why Lexus has a finance program when most customers buy them cash anyway.
  • As for the Lexus IS XE20, this is a luxury Avensis, taken to the higher end of automotive technology of its time. I haven’t heard many people say, “Man I sure would go for an Avensis on steroids.”

Why buy a Lexus IS?

  • When I said that a Lexus IS EX20 is a luxury Avensis T250, that’s exactly it. It’s one of the best-soundproofed cars on the market, and the level of luxury, comfort, and technology far exceeds even the expectations of a Manchester student who pays 800 pounds for a 1 room flat and expects decent conditions.
  • You get THE Lexus reliability even with the entry-level Lexus IS XE20. Sure, it does have it’s misses like it’s parent company Toyota, but it’s mostly standard Lexus standards of quality and reliability.
  • You get the Lexus Red Carpet treatment. Priority at any Toyota or Lexus dealership, extended roadside assistance services throughout Europe, and assistance from some sexy assistants who keep you company during the short time spent at dealerships.


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Lexus IS XE20 Engines


  • 2.5 V6 4GR-FSE of 205 horsepower – An old-school  naturally aspirated engine that needs the valves cleaned from time to time of carbon deposits. Somewhere very late in its life, it starts to eat up oil, but being a Lexus, it will develop this habit long after you retire from this world.
  • 3.0 V6 3GR-FE of 228 horsepower – The bigger brother of the 2.5 V6 comes with the same issues, which are rarer than the moments when a minimum-wage employee feels like working hard for the boss’s next vacation.
  • 3.5 V6 3GR-FSE of 306 horsepower – In addition to the common issues of the previous petrol engines, this village bycicle of an engine tends to overheat cylinder number 5, leading to increased oil consumption and ultimately to cylinder bore damage. This is NOT the standard Toyota 3.5 V6 petrol, but an Lexus modified unit (injectors to be precise). But then again, we’re talking about the ends of time when it comes to cylinder damage so don’t sweat it too much.
  • 5.0 V8 2UR-GSE of 416 horsepower – You would think a 5.0 V8 would be more sinful than Temptation Island, but such an engine has can go beyond 400,000 miles without major issues.


2.2 2AD-FHV of 148 and 174 horsepower – Either avoid or be very careful when it comes to these engines because they tend to burn the head gasket and it’s quite the expensive procedure. So, it’s mandatory to check the car’s history and whether the headgasket or the engine have been replaced. Toyota offered to replace the engines under warranty so it should show up in the records.




Lexus IS XE20 Reliability Issues

  • The V6 petrol engines are famous for water pump issues and an appetite for coil packs. However, these engines still have legendary reliability, so these are just minor inconveniences really.
  • The rear calipers can lock up, and you can get stuck in a parking lot, which is not too much of an issue. It does became an issue thought when you hit the pedal with the 200+ horsepower at your disposal, because a caliper surely won’t be able to stop you.



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Lexus IS XE20 Verdict

The fact that there are only big engines (by european blender standards) and the high prices even on the used market make the Lexus IS XE20 an exclusive car in any situation. Especially since there aren’t many buyers for such a thing in the used market. I repeat, those who buy Lexus usually buy it new. But if you want to buy a used one, then you will have one of the most luxurious and comfortable compact sedans on the market. This means giving up the 3 Series, C Class, Passat, or Audi A4 and going with the Japanese. The choice is yours.

Which engines do I recommend? If you can really afford a proper Lexus, do yourself a favor and buy a Lexus IS XE20 with the 2.5 V6 petrol engine and automatic transmission. But any petrol engine is fine really, and the diesel is to be avoided. No wonder it’s so cheap in the classifieds.