Volk Wheels

Here’s the thing: Nearly everything about the Lexus IS 500 is exceptional… except the transmission. It just can’t keep up with me. Sure, if you have an open road and/or track to get the IS 500 into a rhythm, then yes, the automatic transmission finds a groove (somewhat) & shows up for the job. Meaning, it’s as crisp as an auto can be. But in many real word situations where you find yourself wanting a quick, snappy, thoroughbred response… the transmission is caught napping. And there is a marked delay from when you hit the gas and/or pull the paddle, and when the IS 500 actually shifts. It’s honestly a little heartbreaking honestly. Because that issue aside… 

IS 500 blue

The Lexus IS 500 is pretty phenomenal… 

First off, yes, good automotive design is in the eye of the beholder. But in a world of some modern, confused, borderline repulsive design trends, the IS 500 is truly striking. It’s muscular & menacing, without being all morphed out of proportion. From the cockpit, the Lexis IS 500 is equal parts comfortable & smooth (on the luxury-end of the spectrum)… yet still totally locked-in, sharp, responsive (on the performance-end). It doesn’t give you an ‘electronic’ sense of dumbness. And that goes for all IS models, not just the 500. 

IS 500 blue red interior

Lexus red interior

The Lexus IS 500 creates driver-centered experience

Lexus sport-model seats are absolutely top-notch from a performance standpoint… without sacrificing comfort. You know how there are some new seats that adjust 50-different-ways, yet you still can’t freaking get comfortable? Lexus is not that. 

The little Lexus mousepad on the console that controls the infotainment isn’t necessarily my favorite thing. But I do sincerely appreciate that Lexus still uses real knobs & buttons where it makes sense. A lot of other car companies have become so consumed with tech, that it’s taking driver’s eyes off the road & putting safety at risk. Not sure how that’s not more of a conversation in these times where safety over-regulates the world. But I appreciate that Lexus does not allow distraction & frustration to seep into the Lexus driving experience. Enough with all that crap though, let’s get to the engine! Because THE ENGINE is WHY the IS 500 exists!

Lexus red interior

Lexus 5.0 V8

The Lexus IS 500 flexes a gnarly 5-liter V8 making 472 horsepower! 

And it’s just… badass! Look, I’ve got nothing against turbos. I’m quite fond of them actually lol. But in a modern world where turbos & hybrids & EVs run the luxury-performance segments… man is it sweet to have a ground-pounding V8 behind that Lexus badge! Plus – it’s a Toyota V8, so it’ll probably go to the moon before it needs any substantial maintenance. Flappy automatic transmission aside – there is still an undeniable part of me that wants to own one of these… just so I can open that exhaust up & let it thunder through the hills & valleys like a viking war horn. In all seriousness though…

IS 500 rear

Lexus Racing

1)  I look at Toyota’s brave & dedicated efforts to save the spirit of driving in these times… 

It’s an effort that can only come from the leadership of TRUE driving enthusiasts… people who genuinely ‘get it’.

2)  I ALSO look at the inspiring LEXUS Racing teams in IMSA.

It reminds me of the good ol’ days in motorsports, where manufacturers would show up with something to prove. And taking all that into account, I believe Toyota / Lexus should reenforce those efforts, and create a least one version of one Lexus model… that taps into core, uncompromising drivers & enthusiasts. One model… that holds nothing back. Nothing. And that means… putting a manual transmission in the IS 500. It might not make financial sense, and that’s exactly why Lexus should do it. 

ultrasonic blue Lexus IS

IS 500 review

IS 500 exhaust

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