Reviewed by Susan Frissell 

We had a special treat the last 10 days: Driving the 2011 Lexus IS 250 convertible while the weather cooperated and friends flocked. Having the luxury of that retractable hardtop is so much of a cut above, it’s hard to get used to the flip-up-and-over Miata canvas top again! Two different breeds, though.

Our 2011 IS 250C came equipped with all you’d want: Lexus’ 2.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V6 engine, with effortless VVT-I power train. Although coming in at 240 horsepower the IS could use a little more punch. Somewhat of a lackluster feel, the V6 struggled a little while navigating steep hills driving through the backroads of Wisconsin.

While a compliant ride and quiet interior forever mark the ride in a Lexus product, the IS 250 lacks any semblance of performance. But then, is that really fair? Probably not. If you’re looking for a “performance” vehicle, you opt for the Audi A4 or BMW’s 3-series convertibles. There is a back seat in the Lexus IS 250, but a cramped one. We didn’t try to transport anything but packages in the rear seating area so we can’t judge what it would be like riding back there.

Lexus has given the 2011 Lexus IS 250 a slight styling update, in front and back. The interior gets a minor trim change and Lexus adds a new F Sport Package option for rear-wheel-drive models. Lexus has discontinued two optional features for 2011: The adaptive front xenon headlights, and the adaptive cruise (with pre-collision system).

New front oblique fascia is apparent on the 2011 IS 250, and one can opt for LED DRL’s (Daytime Running Lights), which somehow increase a sense of visual aggression. Comfort and luxury are top-notch in the IS 250 convertible, which isn’t saying much. This is what one expects from the company whose vehicles remain a “benchmark” for all other automotive products coming down the pipeline. Solid workmanship is in order, too and the cabin when the top is up, is very quiet.

Given the IS 250 is a coupe, it only has two doors, which with all Coupes, are very heavy. This is a question when considering day-to-day driving; although that’s another given with convertibles. The IS 250 is available with the 2.5-liter V6 engine, accompanied by six-speed manual transmission, an all-wheel-drive version with six-speed automatic transmission, and of course, the 2.5-liter V6 with six-speed automatic transmission.

Our test IS 250 came equipped with a few options: Navigation System w/Mark Levinson Premium Audio, 270-watt Audio with DVD/CD Changer, 12-speakers, 5.1 channel architecture, DVD-Audio and Video, Hard Disk Drive Navigation System Backup camera, Lexus Enform with Destination Assist, and eDestination (includes 1-year trial subscription), Lexus Insider; Voice Command, XM NavTraffic, XM NavWeather and XM Sports and Stocks (includes 90-day free trial): $4,015; Cargo Net, $64; Trunk mat, $73.

Some of the nice standard features on this Lexus convertible include puddle lamps!! inside auto-dimming, power tilt/telescope steering wheel with audio controls/cruise, rear windows with one-touch down, Lexus personalized settings, three-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel, foldable rear headrest and the power-retractable aluminum-alloy convertible top, among other goodies.

One thing we noticed when trying to navigate highway traffic is the way the Lexus IS 250 swings upward in the rear,making it difficult to see cars behind. The size of the rear headrests also blocks the view. This was a little unnerving when traveling at high speeds.

A rear-wheel-drive vehicle, the Lexus IS 250 has all the latest in safety technology: ABS, Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Smart Stop Technology, Front driver/passenger airbags, knee airbags, front seat mounted side impact airbags, supplemental restraint system. An alarm with immobilizer is standard, as is in-key remote control.


MSRP: $41,060; total vehicle price $46,087; delivery $875

Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC, 24-Valve V6  Dual VVT-I, 204 horsepower, 185 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: Six-speed Electronically Controlled Automatic with intelligence (ECT-I)

Wheelbase: 107.4 in.

Length: 180.3 in.

Width: 70.9 in.

Height: 56.1 in.

Weight: 3,455 lbs.

EPA Fuel Economy: 21/30 mpg.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.1 gal.

Warranty: 4 yrs./50,000-miles basic coverage; 6 yrs./70,000-miles powertrain coverage; 4 yrs./unlimited mile corrosion perforation; 24-hour/365-days a year roadside assistance plan; complimentary first and second scheduled maintenance services; Lodging for emergency breakdown 100 miles from home.