Twenty years before the introduction of the 2021 Lexus IS last summer, the iconic rear-wheel-drive compact luxury sedan blazed a trail for the power of performance. This is the car that initiated Toyota President and master driver, Akio Toyoda, into the exhilaration of performance driving, and tapped into the desire for an emotional feel behind the wheel. In balancing a sports car with a sedan, the IS created an ideal synergy for a new kind of Lexus guest.

The IS may have evolved in shape, size, efficiency and power, but it has stayed true to its stimulating heritage, retained the craftsmanship expected from Lexus, and created a culture of style and expression all its own.

Now, the IS launches the newest chapter in its story of innovation at Lexus as the first of the lineup to feature the Lexus Driving Signature approach to design. To chart the course of this groundbreaking driving experience, here is a look back at major milestones for the model that shook up luxury and forged a time-tested bond between driver and machine.

Lexus IS Icons: Made for Adventure

In the early 2000s, a lifestyle shift was well underway, and Lexus adapted the performance-fueled IS to meet it. Luxury sedans were at the heart of the culture just as a wave of SUV’s was beginning to swell. Adding cargo space without sacrificing dynamism is part of the core ethos that Lexus holds true to today. The adventurous spirit of the IS 300 SportCross combined the aesthetic of a wagon with the compact vigor of a sedan for a new experience of the roads more taken.

Throwback Facts:

  • SportCross came in the following colors: Crystal White, Absolutely Red, Electra Green Mica, Cibola Bold Metallic, and Intensa Blue Pearl.
  • The IS 300 was within 0.2 seconds of the non-wagon IS in the 0-to-60 mph test, and the margin between the two in the slalom was a razor-thin 67.6 mph for the sedan; 66.6 mph for the SportCross.

The Lexus IS sedan continues to evolve, with the ultimate goal of delivering a new generation of Lexus vehicles that is more balanced, refined in control, and confident than ever before. Check out the next icon in the making, the new 2021 Lexus IS, here.

Originally published February 18, 2021

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