Lexus IS is in fact the name given to the succession of luxury cars/compact executive cars designed and marketed since 1998 by Lexus. This car was first launched in the Lexus lineup as an entry-level sport model placed just below the ES series. However, in Japanese market Lexus IS was mainly marketed under the name tag of Toyota Altezza. The term “Altezza” is taken from Italian meaning “highness” up to the time of the introduction of Lexus as a separate brand. In 2006, the first second generation Lexus IS was designed. The term Altezza is often used to refer to the chromed taillights used in the first generation model called ‘Altezza lights’ or ‘Lexus-style’ lights.
In October, 1998, the first generation Altezza codenamed XE10 launched followed by the Lexus 200 codenamed GXE10 in 1999 in European market, while Lexus IS 300 codenamed JCE10 was launched in North America in 2000. The first generation, inline-6-powered IS based on sedan and several wagon versions. In 2006, the second generation IS codenamed XE20 introduced. IS 250 codenamed GSE20 and IS 350 codenamed GSE21 were the two variants powered by V6 engine. The IS F, a high performance sedan was introduced in 2007. In 2008, hardtop convertible versions, the IS 250 C and IS 350 C were released. According to the company, IS stands for ‘Intelligent Sports’.
- According to the Initial Quality Survey 2006 by J.D. Power and Associates, the second generation IS 250/IS 350 sedans ranked the best cars in the entry luxury class.
- The first generation IS 300 sedan and IS 300 SportCross named the best vehicles in 2005 Initial Quality Survey by J.D. Power and Associates.
- Ward’s Auto awarded the IS 356 V6 engine the 10 Best Engines award in 2006. In 2007, the IS 350 V6 engine again included in the list of 10 Best Engines award.
- 2007 Lexus IS was declared the winner of the Intellichoice/AutoPacific Motorist Choice Award for Aspirational Luxury Cars.
- The International Forum Design group in Hannover, Germany declared the Lexus IS the winner of the 2007 IF product design award.
- The 2007 Lexus IS also won the Golden Steering Wheel Award in the Luxury category. The panel of 25 automotive experts named Lexus IS as a winner of this award.
- In 2006, the British automotive magazine, Top Gear ranked the second generation Lexus IS as the Executive Car of the Year.
- The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada named the IS 350 for the 2006 Best New Technology award.
- In 2001, the Kelley Blue Book awarded the first generation IS 300 as Best to Hold Value Award.
- The Lexus IS also stood as a finalist in Wheels magazine’s Car of the Year (COTY) awards and also the 2006 World Car of the Year (WCOTY) award.
- In the 2006 and 2007 Australia’s Best Cars awards, the IS 250 stood winner for the Best Prestige Car.
- In the Top Gear 2005 Satisfaction Survey, the Lexus IS stood 2nd while Honda S2000 stood first.