Our recent The Lexus IS, IS C and IS F for 2011 in the United States Front Page story
ended with "In closing, we must add that this article is definitely crying out for a sequel..." And, quite frankly, the followup Pricing article
, if anything, raised a few more questions and begged some clarifications. After contacting Lexus USA, here's what we've learned:
Bye-bye AFS and PCS
In our joy that HID headlights, the new LED daytime running lights and headlight washers were joining the 2011 IS 350 sedan standard equipment list, we totally missed the fact that AFS (Adaptive Front lighting System) is no longer offered on the Lexus IS line as part of the 2011 changes. This was brought to our attention by the September 2010 print edition of Motor Trend
magazine and confirmed by the 2011 Lexus Technology Summary charts
. To refresh your memory, AFS helps illuminate more of the road in a turn by steering asymmetrically via suspension ECU. In the case of 2006-10 Lexus IS models so equipped, the left headlamp pivots up to 15 degrees and the right headlamp pivots 5 degrees. As a lifelong fan of headlights that can see around corners (and even of the low-tech fixed cornering lamps in a number of Detroit 3 products), this author mourns its loss. On the other hand, friend, colleague and Club Lexus
Editor Flipside909 reminds us of their mechanical and parts complexity and expense for relatively little tangible benefit.
Some further digging reveals that the Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control option is another goner from the 2011 Lexus V6 sedan option list (it remains available on IS C and IS F models). Thus, they become the only Lexus models not offering this option (Our guess is that an extremely low take rate is the culprit). Also gone for 2011 is the passenger seat memory function on the Luxury Package (it remains for the driver's seat).
Black Metallic interior trim
Black Metallic, it turns out, is a currently unseen and unphotographed interior trim that is used exclusively on base IS and IS C models for 2011. It could
be described as roughly analogous to the standard Lexus HS 250h door trim
but without the HS's unusual coloration. It's said to be very much like a black metallic exterior finish, and definitely not
akin to piano black.
Meanwhile, the F Sport Package available on V6 RWD sedans receives a dedicated darker "smoked" and less bronze-toned version of the 2006-10 standard metallic accent trim. We must also note that, similarly, the silver carbon-fiber-look trim on the IS F (officially referred to by Lexus as "Hand-finished aluminized composite trim") also takes on a darker hue for 2011. It's interesting how IS interior trim is following on the trend to darker metallic finishes, which was preceded by the darker graphite wheel finishes introduced in the 2008 model year. The new F Sport metallic interior trim is shown in the photos at the top of this article and at right.
IS V6 sedan RWD vs AWD curb weight differences
A glance at the official 2011 IS 350 / IS 250 Product Information PDF Document
reveals that the IS 250 AWD (all-wheel-drive) is 216 lbs versus its IS 250 RWD (rear-wheel-drive) Automatic counterpart, as opposed to the lesser 176 lb gain from IS 350 RWD to IS 350 AWD. Lexus confirmed this author's suspicions that the bulk if not all of the extra 40 lb gain in the IS 250s is due to the fact that the IS 250 RWD Automatics use the lighter A960E 6-speed automatic, whereas its AWD counterpart uses the stouter and heavier A760H 6-speed automatic. On the other hand, both versions of the IS 350 use the A760, with the IS 350 RWD using the A760E version while the IS 350 AWD shares the A760H with its less-powerful AWD little brother.
IS V6 F Sport vs IS F seats
Although, at a glance, the sport seats on the new-for-2011 IS 250 and IS 350 F Sport models (shown at left) look pretty much identical to their IS F progenitor (shown below right in their 2010 all-black-leather version), Lexus' official press information refers to the IS V6 F Sport seats as having microfiber seat inserts and leather bolsters, while the IS F's are described as having Alcantara seat inserts with leather bolsters. This is no mere semantic inconsistency that slipped by Lexus proofreaders, but two different yet similar (but by no means identical) insert materials. Bear with us as we delve into a mini-crash course in textiles.
The whole genre
dates back to embryonic experiments in the late 1950s, but received a significant push from Japan during the following decade, culminating in the work of Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto, a scientist working for the Japanese chemical company Toray that, in 1970, first produced Ultrasuede
, which has been described as "the world's first ultra-microfiber". Two years later, a joint venture between Italian chemical company ENI and Toray formed Alcantara SpA in order to manufacture and distribute the material.
Curiously, for years a multi-pronged naming strategy took hold, with Europe favoring the company's Alcantara name, North America using the more generic-sounding Ultrasuede and Asia (especially Japan) using the Ecsaine name so familiar to us 1st-generation Lexus IS diehards. Eventually, though, Toray/Alcantara SpA sought to standardize the Alcantara name worldwide, and the change from Ecsaine to Alcantara as of the 2004 model year did not in any way alter the material's composition in Lexus IS seats.
informs us that genuine Alcantara consists of 68% polyester and 32% polyurethane, whereas microfiber can be made from polyesters, polyamides (nylon), and/or a conjugation of polyester and polyamide or other polymers. While not divulging the precise composition of the IS V6 F Sport seat inserts, Lexus assures us that "it's suede-like, similar to Alcantara, and of the same premium quality". This author also suspects that, as the originators of ultra-microfiber, Alcantara may well be charging a premium for its use, a premium more easily absorbed by the IS F's higher pricing versus its V6 siblings.
We should also note that the F Sport floor mats in the above left photo are a separate F Sport accessory line item that is not
included as part of the factory F Sport package.
IS V6 F Sport exterior color selection
Again, per our suspicions, the IS 250 F Sport Package and IS 350 F Sport Package exterior color selection consists of Starfire Pearl, Obsidian, Tungsten Pearl, Smoky Granite Mica, Matador Red Mica and Ultrasonic Blue Mica. This follows the pattern set in 2010 by Japan's "Version F"
, as well as (minus Ultrasonic Blue) Canada.
Why no IS 250 F Sport Manual?
Lexus USA replied with a terse "Manual transmission makes up only a small fraction of IS sales" (we believe it's no more than 10%, and probably half of that, in fact). Lest we be too judgmental, however, we should note that none
of the markets that beat the U.S. to the F Sport Package offer it in conjunction with the 2.5-liter V6/manual tranny combo. In fact, only North America and a handful of European markets (Great Britain and Switzerland come to mind) offer an IS 250 Manual at all. On the other hand, a broader selection of European markets will
sell you an IS 220d F Sport powered by the 2AD-FHV 2.2-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine, which is offered only
with a 6-speed manual transmission.
IS F interior changes
This discussion needs to start with a mea culpa
(that's Latin for "my bad"). What the official 2011 Lexus IS F Press Release
describes as "a silver colored-trimmed steering wheel" and the accompanying 2011 IS F Product Information PDF document
cites as "Blue leather and silver-trimmed insert on steering wheel for black and two-tone Alpine interior" was misinterpreted by yours truly as "The steering wheel with the all-black and two-tone Alpine White/Black leather interiors... changes from 2010's black with a blue leather-trimmed insert to blue leather with a silver-trimmed insert". That is NOT the case. The steering wheel's leather rim surface remains black with a blue leather insert below the vertical lower steering wheel spoke, as shown in the photo at right of the 2010 steering wheel. As to the talk of silver-trimmed inserts, this simply means that the silver brushed metal-look trim that has been added to the left and right horizontal steering wheel spokes of the 2011 IS V6 models also appear on the 2011 IS F. We have also learned that the Alpine White/Black interior received one other subtle change for 2011: a change from white to blue stitching on the black portions of the seats.
Some of the rampant speculation on the 2011 Lexus IS F interior changes, however, can be laid at Lexus USA's doorstep and their fiscally prudent decision to wait until actual '11 IS Fs arrive Stateside to fully photograph the new interiors and thus update their somewhat meager 2011 IS F Image Library
. Fortunately, though, from half a world away comes some major clarification, thanks to Club Lexus member Rashoodz from Dubai, who brings us pictures, from neighboring Oman, of the new Orange/Black interior. We're bringing you some of them to your left and below, but to view all of the pictures of this Obsidian and Orange/Black stunner, check out this Club Lexus post
. And please disregard my earlier "orange leather with silver trimmed insert leather steering wheel" description as well. As these pictures show, it's clearly a black leather steering wheel with an orange leather insert below the lower vertical steering wheel spoke and silver brushed metal-look trim on the left and right horizontal steering wheel spokes.
More on the 2011 IS F from Oman
As soon as those IS F photos from Oman entered the Club Lexus thread, commentary focused on two items that require some follow-up clarification. Upon seeing its "throwback" (in the U.S., at any rate) 10-spoke BBS forged aluminum wheels, fans of these wheels (a majority of the my.IS community, judging by anecdotal evidence) were cheered by hopes that they would return on 2011 U.S. market IS F. Sorry, but it's NOT happening. Lexus has, to date, made 3 different wheel designs for the IS F: the original 10-spoke wheels in a graphite finish; a variant of this wheel with curved chrome accents on the spokes (seen in the U.S. only on the 50 Neiman Marcus Edition 2008 IS-Fs); and the new-for-2010 so-called "fork" or "trident"-style wheels, which carry over for 2011 in the U.S. It seems that Lexus gives each market selling the IS F considerable leeway in choosing which wheel style to offer. Japan, for example, offered all styles for 2010, while our Canadian neighbors opted to keep the original 10-spoke style for 2010 as opposed to our "fork" wheels. And, it seems, the Arab countries are following suit.
Eagle-eyed Club Lexus members also noticed a different instrument cluster for the IS F in Oman, as shown at left. The 2011 IS F Press Release on the Lexus USA Newsroom
only makes a passing mention of "new IP gauges", but Lexus Public Relations Specialist Bill Kwong informs us that "the overall layout has been reconstructed, with items including the tachometer, speedometer and shift indicator repositioned. The tachometer is centrally positioned. A rev indicator that is coupled with meter indicator movement is positioned inside the gauge to help enhance shift operations characteristics". Certainly something else to look forward to when the official 2011 Lexus IS F Image Library is updated with new interior shots.
2011 IS V6 F Sport Package vs previous Sport and X Packages
When comparing the contents of the 2011 F Sport Package for V6 Automatic RWD sedans to those of the 2006-10 Sport Package, the stark contrast in character between the two becomes quite apparent. In fact, 18" wheels, aluminum door sill scuff plates, heated seats, sport pedals and sport suspension tuning are all the two packages have in common. For fans of cars with every conceivable bell and whistle, they may lament that the new F Sport Package isn't really a Luxury Package with a few sporty features thrown in, as the previous Sport Package was. In other words, if you want a sporty-as-possible-from-the-factory 2011 Lexus IS V6 RWD Automatic sedan, you'll have to do without driver’s and front passenger’s seat memory; electrochromic, memory and reverse tilt-down functions for the outside rear-view mirrors; power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with memory; and rain-sensing wipers. Yes, Lexus has made it very clear that the three major Packages available on 2011 IS V6 sedans (Premium, Luxury and F Sport) cannot
That will be an inconsequential loss, however, for the hardcore enthusiast purists among us (a sizable majority of the my.IS community, we suspect). If anything, the 2011 F Sport Package is actually a spiritual successor to the more pared-down X Package offered from 2006 until 2009. The latter's content of sport suspension, sport pedals, aluminum door sill scuff plates, extended front lip spoiler and package-specific 18” wheels forms the foundation to which the F Sport Package adds IS F-sourced or inspired rear decklid spoiler, grille mesh, sport seats, steering wheel and sundry F Sport badges. Think of the F Sport Package as an X-Plus Package, or as an IS F-infused X Package.
2011 Lexus IS, IS C and IS F option and option package pricing
The X vs Sport vs F-Sport Package discussion you've just read provides a handy transition to a long-awaited bit of news: pricing for the new-for-2011 F-Sport Package. The magic number: an MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) of $2440
, which falls roughly midway between the $1491 MSRP for the 2009 X Package with moonroof and the $3140 MSRP for the 2010 Sport Package. A $941 premium versus the old X Package for the IS F-inspired extras? Certainly a fair price, we think. And the $700 price break versus the 2010 Sport Package in exchange for foregoing a few luxury frivolities but, again, gaining those IS F-inspired extras? A screaming deal, and those $700 could go roughly halfway towards a harder-core F Sport accessory suspension. Curiously for such a performance-oriented package, the F-Sport Package is available with either All-Season tires (option code FJ) or Summer Tires (option code FK). Without a doubt, make mine FK, F**K, yeah! Besides the Premium and Luxury Luxury Package combination no-nos mentioned earlier, the Navigation System plus Mark Levinson Audio combo (option code VN) cannot be ordered in conjunction with the F-Sport Packages (you can
, however, get the stand-alone Navigation System [option code NV] with the F-Sport Package).
In stark contrast to Lexus' "hold-the-line-on-base MSRP strategy for 2011 IS V6 sedans", the other option packages have also seen pricing adjustments for the new model year. The Premium Package Value Edition package (option code PT) consisting of Heated and Ventilated Front Seats, Wood Interior Trim, and Perforated Leather Seat Upgrade is now $640 (versus $240 in 2010) for rear-wheel-drive models and $200 (versus no extra cost in 2010) for all-wheel-drive models. Lexus reminds us, however, that the actual MSRP value of this package is $1090. The Luxury Plus Value Edition pricing situation is all over the map, and requires some explanation. First off, there are 3 variants of this package insofar as individual option codes: LD for AWD models, LL for RWD Automatics with 17" wheels and LT for RWD Automatics with 18" wheels (these packages are not available on IS 250 Manual). The Luxury packages themselves include, at a minimum, the Premium Package Value Edition content plus Power Tilt/Telescoping Steering Wheel, Driver Memory Seat, Illuminated Scuff Plates, Power Rear Sunshade, and Rain-Sensing Wipers. As with the Premium Package, the Luxury Package is less expensive on AWD models because these already come with heated seats standard – the Luxury Package only adding the ventilation function – whereas RWD models gain both heating and ventilation. LT Luxury Package pricing, naturally, is higher because it includes the 18" wheels (which also remain available as a stand-alone option), and, most importantly, all IS 250 Automatic Luxury Packages also add the HID headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights that are already standard on IS 350 models. This explains why IS 350 Luxury Package pricing decreased
for 2011. Without further ado, here is the Luxury Package pricing for 2011 bolded
, followed by its pricing variation versus 2010 in parentheses and what Lexus estimates is the true MSRP value of these packages:
LD for IS 250 (17" AWD): $2195
(+$455) MSRP Value $2795
LL for IS 250 (17" RWD): $2635
(+$655) MSRP Value $3235
LT for IS 250 (18" RWD): $3465
(+$655) MSRP Value $4065
LD for IS 350 (17" AWD): $1320
(new for 2011) MSRP Value $1920
LL for IS 350 (17" RWD): $1760
(-$220) MSRP Value $2360
LT for IS 350 (18" RWD): $2590
(-$220) MSRP Value $3190
Individual, stand-alone IS V6 sedan option pricing remains unchanged for 2011 versus 2010, as does all IS C and IS F option and option package pricing.
...and that answers most of our questions...
Still begging for more detailed replies are the queries we previously raised on the performance and fuel economy improvements to the IS and IS C V6s, as well as more specifics on the suspension and steering tuning tweaks to the F Sport Package and IS F, and how much commonality there is to these upgrades between the V6 F Sport and the V8 IS F. Stay tuned for a sequel to the sequel, we hope...
Our most heartfelt thanks go out to the Lexus USA team that patiently and diligently answered our questions: Brian Bolain, Ming-Jou Chen, Bill Kwong and Allison Takahashi.