Acura TSX vs Lexus IS 250

fedlawmanfedlawman Member Posts: 3,118
edited March 2014 in Acura
These two entry-lux performance sedans are within one HP of each other. The Lexus offers RWD and famous Lexus refinement while the TSX offers a high revving I-4 and playful handling dynamics.

What are your likes/dislikes?


  • david1973david1973 Member Posts: 23
    I drove 2006 versions of both (autos) this weekend. The HP might be same but I find the extra 20 ft-lbs of torque to make a real difference when accelerating up to high way speeds. The IS felt a bit quieter and smoother when cruising. Overall iy felt a step higher on the luxery scale. The TSX has more features (xenons standard, fold down rear seats, and a Driver seat memory). IS has ventilated seats and push start) and an extra couple of inches of rear seat room. It also had the "metal" trim which I prefer to the wood.

    If all you care about is driving, I think the IS250 is a slight step up. If you care about money and practicality it isn't so clear. If you throw in value ( the tsx is about 5-6k cheaper) it is a real hard choice. I sort of wish I could see the base is model since I am not sure in the luxery package and 18" wheels are really worth it to me.

    Right now I am definitely leaning towards the IS but my one thought is that I need to go back and trying the TL. My initial thoughts were it is bigger than I want but it might be the better car for me.
  • dc_davedc_dave Member Posts: 52
    I'm also looking at the IS 250 but the no fold down rear seats really hurts (what are they thinking, its seems like an easy option to include). I just love the way the IS 250 looks from the exterior but I'm a cyclist and need a car that I can fit my bicycle into.

    Dave in VA
  • joemalejoemale Member Posts: 28
    Nice points, but:
    1. You don't have to get the wood trim in the TSX.
    They also offer a "metal" trim.
    2. I most definitely found the TSX had greater leg room.
    I am only 5ft 7in, and I thought the back seat of
    the Lexus was quite tight. In fact, this is a dominant
    them on the Lexis forum.

    It really is quite a tossup between the two though.
    THey are both on my short list, as well as the Audi A3.
  • joemalejoemale Member Posts: 28
    Can you really get a bicycle into the trunk of the TSX
    anyway, even with fold down seats?
    Why not just get a bike rack for the top, and not
    have this determine your car choice?
  • david1973david1973 Member Posts: 23
    1) I ment you have to get wood on the IS. Yes supposedly there are base and sport packages out with metal but I think they are largely imaginary at this point of time
    2) if you pop out the front wheel you can slide most bikes into a car. I have done it numerous times with civics so I image a tsx would be even easier. If this is a major consideration I would also look at the a3. The hatch really helps. A3 is also clearly faster than either the tsx or is.
  • dc_davedc_dave Member Posts: 52
    Below is from my other post today, Audi and VW are one-in-the-same.

    I'm so disappointed with VW's service, both from the dealer and VW of N. America. I'll post later in depth about all my problems. Over the past two weeks the car has been in the shop 4 times, each time they give it back to me, it runs worse than the time before and the dealer states a different problem and wants more money...NO, NO, NO! The sad thing is that I was set on buying a new A3 3.2 S-line this Jan/Feb but I just can't give VWAG anymore of my business, period. I'll just have to settle for something else, maybe the new IS 250 or the TSX, something that is reliable.

    Volkswagen DOES NOT stand by their product, beware! More horror stories to come, nobody is going to believe how bad it has been.

    Dave in VA
  • dc_davedc_dave Member Posts: 52
    Because when you have a bike that costs 6k you don't want it to be exposed ;-)

    Actually its because I have a time trial bike (tour de france) that has a disc wheel in the back that will not work with roof mounted racks. I could go with a trunk-mounted rack but I would still like the option of fitting it inside if needed. And to answer your question, yes, a bike will fit inside no problem when the seats are folded down.

    Dave in VA
  • david1973david1973 Member Posts: 23
    VW and Audi are owned by the same companies. That doesn't necessary make them the same in terms of dealer support. I have read stories where Audi has seperated there QA from VW to improve the quality of the products. Audi has done very well on recent 90 day reports. If that translates into long term reliability is up in the air at this point. It is definitely a check mark against them compared to lexus/acura.
  • dc_davedc_dave Member Posts: 52
    Yes, I keep telling myself the same thing, trying to justify a reason to look at the A3 3.2 S-line. I love this car and its perfect for me BUT I'm currently in a war with VW of NA and my local VW dealer. They have pissed me off so much that I just don't think I can support their operation. Trust me, I'm totally bummed. I was in Europe this summer admiring the A3's all over the place and telling my wife...there's my next car. I don't know maybe Audi service is totally separate but they share the same roof in Auburn Hills, MI so I'm going to lump them together.

    Dave in VA
  • dc_davedc_dave Member Posts: 52
    "IS has ventilated seats and push start) and an extra couple of inches of rear seat room. It also had the "metal" trim which I prefer to the wood."

    Which one has the metal trim, the lexus or acura? In the photos I've looked at on the web it seems like metal trim is an option on the acura but all the lexus' come with a wood center console? Is this true, I think the IS 250 would look much better with all metal trip inside. Also, looking at the specs, the acura seems to have more space in the rear seats, maybe in person its different?

    Dave in VA

    Dave in VA
  • david1973david1973 Member Posts: 23
    Sorry for the confusing sentence. The tsx is normally a metal trim. I think one of the colors packages has wood but I haven't seen it. The IS250 base model has a metallic trim. As far as I know, that car doesn't exist outside of lexus's web site. On the lots Yyou have to order some package which adds wood. There is a sports package that keeps the metallic trim but I thik it might be 350 only. I would much rather have metal. The rear seats of the TSX definitely have an extra couple of inches of seat room.
  • dc_davedc_dave Member Posts: 52
    Yeah, I was also wondering if you can add the sports package to the IS 250. On edmunds and's configulator you can add it to the IS250 but on the lexus website you cannot? If I were to get the IS 250, all I want is the sports package; I think this brings the MSRP up to 35K, not bad.

    Dave in VA
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Member Posts: 3,118
    The toyota and lexus websites are notorious for pre-selecting option packages for you without the abilty to remove them. I think it's based on your zip code.

    Anyways, I'm sure you can factory order/dealer trade for the exact car and features you want.
  • david1973david1973 Member Posts: 23
    The dealer I talked to said that the sports package was only available on the 350. Dealers have been wrong before though.
  • hokipokihokipoki Member Posts: 12
    Sports package is available on the RWD Lexus IS cars (IS250MT, IS250Auto, IS350Auto). It looks like it might not be available on IS250 AWD. They are not making many with sports package so these might have to be special ordered which takes about 3 months.
  • toyotaf1fantoyotaf1fan Member Posts: 37
    Have taken both cars for a test drive are my thoughts.


    The Lexus is a wonderful looking car. Everything about it screams goegeous. There isn't a bad angle looking at it. The interior is well designed too. You can feel the quality in each of the controls, and the sterling colour options looks amazing.
    The TSX is more conservative. It is still a good looking car, but just doesn't grab my attention the same way. The interior feels more sporty than the lexus. (which is the way a sports sedan should be) But like its exterior, the interior just doesn't grab my attention the same way.
    Winner: Lexus

    The lexus is a smooth customer. Its ride is all about pampering the driver. Thus, you don't feel too many connections with the car. The Steering was a little light, and the engine was underpowered but smooth. While driving this car you can really feel its weight. But, the biggest disapointment came with its manual tranny. The lexus had a sloppy tranny with the worst hydrolic clutch I've ever tried. I could not feel when it was engaging or releasing the drive shaft. For a "sport" sedan this was a major letdown. Considering the IS 300 had one the best manual transmissions, this was a huge dissapointment. A descent tranny could have let me forget all the other shortcomings.
    The TSX has a sporty ride to it but contains the road imperfections well. The car connects with its driver, and begs to be pushed. The steering which is a little too heavy at parking lot speeds comes in handy when pushing the car to its limits. The engine wanted to be pushed and could do so with ease. Those extra horses in this years model are helpful. The car felt very responsive and agile. The manual tranny continues to be one of the best on the market. Its clutch is perfect and the tranny does wonders with its short throws. This car is a drivers car.

    Winner: TSX


    In Canada the IS 250 doesn't have much value to it at all. A IS with the same options as the TSX is worth more than 42,600. Thats 7 thousand more than a TSX. Although its key-less entry and air conditioned seats are cool, there is no need for a 204 horsepower car to cost this much. The car does have alot of style to it, but considering the back seats are useless (I'm 6.2 and my 5.7 115 pound wife can't sit behind me) the lack of trunk space, horrible manual tranny and price, this car just doesn't make sense. After expecting soo much this car falls way too short.

    Considering the TSX is more than 7 thousand dollars cheaper and the only option you can get is NAV, it seems well priced. The car is fun to drive. The engine, transmission, livable rear seats, trunk, stereo and all kinds of storage space get you by the cars placid looks. A car that wants to be driven is the car I want to drive.

    Winner: TSX
  • gee35coupegee35coupe Member Posts: 3,387
    Ain't that the truth. I saw my first manual transmissioned IS this week. The shifter felt so bad compared to our 04 Accord that I didn't even bother to drive it. I'd rather have another Accord. Even an older one. Thinking of just buying a used '99 5 speed EX and throwing a few mods on it. I'd save a chunk of money and be fast enough.
  • dc_davedc_dave Member Posts: 52
    Great review, thank you for that. I also think the IS 250 LOOKS SWEET but the price coupled with the lack of rear seat space and the no-fold-down rear seats is pointing me towards the Honda, opps...Acura. I'm also going to test drive the Saab 9-3 and the 325ix over the next few weeks.

    Dave in VA
  • speedracer3speedracer3 Member Posts: 650
    I never drove the IS250, but the price is just too rich for my blood, plus you probably have to buy it at sticker. I got an '06 TSX for around $27K and it has all the features that I would want in a sport sedan; it's fun, it's quick, it's luxurious. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the look of the IS250, and I am sure it's fast, and has the vaulted Lexus reliability. I am very happy with my TSX, there is no better sport sedan for the price.

    My other car is an A4 1.8T, great car, horrible reliability. Thank god it's a lease and under warranty, I would never own this car out of warranty.
  • aquaticexploreaquaticexplore Member Posts: 89
    Man, you hit the nail right on the head. I also think that the IS is beautiful, more so that the tsx, but the value for Canadian purchasers does not exist. They pulled a scam by omitting the moonroof and the 17 inch wheels in Canada, and, as you say, charge you thousands to get 'em back. If I were purchasing from scratch, I might still the IS, but compared to my 04 tsx, there is no reason whatsoever for me to move 'up'. Plus that backseat is a joke. Plus, Lexus screwed Canadians on the exchange rate. It charges about 25-30% over US prices, when the Can $ is only discounted 15%. Ripoff. What a total disappointment.

    I talked with a dealer and told him what I thought of the price. Refused to test drive it. I told him to call me when they put their Euro turbo diesel in it. Same applies to Acura. If the put their awesome diesel in the tsx, I would definetly trade mine in.
  • aquaticexploreaquaticexplore Member Posts: 89
    that was my previous car -99 EX manual. Really fun to drive for a family sedan.
  • dpenneydpenney Member Posts: 1
    I too am considering either the '06 TSX or the IS 250 automatic RWD. Did you get the navi on the TSX for the $27K?
  • sosksosk Member Posts: 42
    We drove the Lexus today & will drive the TRX this weekend. I know the HP is the same, but I'm a bit concerned about the TRX's 4 cylinders. I've been told to stay away from 4-cylinder cars. Can anyone tell me how they compare as far as getting onto the highway & passing on the highway? I tend to keep my cars for a good 10-12 years, so I don't mind paying the extra if the Lexus is going to perform better. Thanks for any guidance!!
  • johnny420johnny420 Member Posts: 473
    If you're talking about the TSX, passing on the freeway is no problem whatsoever. The car has plenty of free-revving poop, to the tune of 205 hp. I'm not sure who told you to stay away from four bangers, but this is a ridiculous statement. Todays four cylinder engines are better than they've ever been. The TSX's I4 arrives out of the box in a high state of tune. Go drive one. Then compare it to the IS250.

    Whether or not the Lexus performs better is better left up to others to determine. I do know the TSX is an excellent package, now loaded with all manner of electronic goodies.

    Good luck with your decision.
  • thusrtonpthusrtonp Member Posts: 23
    Just bought the TSX, and did both look at and drive the IS 250. Both great cars, but the TSX delivered more driving fun and bigger bang for the buck IMO. I also think's it's better looking, but that's more subjective. The 250 back seat is a joke - by the time I fit comfortably in the driver's seat, only a kid a in a car seat would have been able to sit behind me. And after all, if your driving a sedan, the back seat matters.

    The Honda K24 iVTEC is one of the world's best engines. 10-12 years would be a walk in the park.
  • killerbunnykillerbunny Member Posts: 141
    Actually its because I have a time trial bike (tour de france) that has a disc wheel in the back that will not work with roof mounted racks.

    Simple. Just use a regular wheel on the bike when transporting on the rack and store the disc wheel in the trunk. I suppose any trunk should be OK for just a wheel.
  • dc_davedc_dave Member Posts: 52
    Yes, that is an option but I would also like to put the bike inside in case of bad weather when transporting bike. I just test drove the 06 TSX and loved it. The seats fold down almost totally flat. The car is very tight and fun to drive. Best part is that I can get the car + destination for only $26,550. At least 5K under the IS 250. Heck, I can go buy another bike with the savings...I'm glad my wife does not read these boards. :P

    Dave in VA
  • speedracer3speedracer3 Member Posts: 650
    No Navi on mine. But love the Bluetooth, works great with my Treo.
  • sosksosk Member Posts: 42
    Can someone please educate me? If 2 cars each have 205 horsepower, but 1 is a 4-cylinder & the other is a 6-cylinder, how does their acceleration compare to each other? The cars are about the same size & weight, if that matters. Thanks!
  • ninjaguyninjaguy Member Posts: 21
    Although both cars have the same HP, the IS250 has more torque (185 vs. 164 ft-lbs). The 20 extra ft-lbs of torque do make a difference. My son has a 2004 TSX, and I drove the IS250 at the Taste of Lexus last fall. The Lexus did indeed feel more powerful.

    However, the IS is overpriced, and the TSX is a better value at thousands less, and it handles just as well (as far as I could tell during the short time I was able to drive the IS). Plus the IS250 has the cramped back seat.

    I would also recommend the Infiniti G35 for the same price as the IS250. Note that the G35 will have a design change for 2007 (to be unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April). If you decide on a G35, suggest waiting until after the the NY Auto Show to see if you will like the new model better, although you probably won't be able to get a decent price on the 2007 model until at least spring 2007.
  • sosksosk Member Posts: 42
    Thanks, ninjaguy!

    So are you saying it's the torque that makes the IS faster? Does the number of cylinders have nothing to do with it? Pardon my ignorance!

    The cramped backseat of the IS250 isn't a problem for me - I use the backseat rarely, and usually only to transport my dogs! I drove the G35 - I thought the backseat was much smaller in it, and I got a lot of outside noise (maybe it was just the one I was in).

    I know the TSX is getting a new look for '07, so I'm thinking of waiting until I can see it. I'm in no hurry at this point. Maybe by early summer the Lexus can be had for less than sticker.

    I'm looking for small but nice, as I tend to keep my cars for a good 10 years. It seems like every year "they" add a few inches to all the cars I like. I'm having a hard time finding something no longer than the TSX that is fun, peppy & a bit luxurious.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Member Posts: 3,118
    The IS may have more peak TQ, but until we see a graph showing the full-range power delivery, no conclusions about it being more "powerful" than the TSX can be made.

    Also, don't forget the IS weighs 200 lbs more than the TSX.
  • johnny420johnny420 Member Posts: 473
    The TSX's full model change is slated for model year 2008, not 2007. Still, that's less than two calendar years away.

    And if you're having trouble finding a car "no longer than the TSX that is fun, peppy & a bit luxurious," then try the TSX itself. It fits that description perfectly. :P
  • sosksosk Member Posts: 42
    Thanks, johnny420. I DID try the TSX and for the most part I liked it a lot. I liked that it came loaded with everything I wanted at a nice price, but I felt that the interior of the IS was nicer. I don't like that the 2 Acura dealerships are so far away, tho! And I guess I'm a little nervous about getting on the freeways in a 4-cylinder car.
  • biker4biker4 Member Posts: 746
    And I guess I'm a little nervous about getting on the freeways in a 4-cylinder car.

    That's gotta be one of the more ignorant remarks I've read. Who brainwashed you into that opinion? Would you feel more comfortable if it was a 16 cyl car? :mad:

    The number of cyclinders in a car should no difference what so ever - just ask yourself during a test drive if its performance is adequate for your needs. Would it make you feel better if I told you that the 30-50mph roll on acceleration (something you need on the highway) is better in the TSX than the IS? But for the not so grippy OEM tires on the TSX virtually all performance numbers for the TSX would be better than the IS.

    Buy the IS for its better interior, better badge, for its looks but for gosh sakes not because it has two more cylinders.

    P.S. You can have routine work done at a Honda dealer on your TSX.
  • sosksosk Member Posts: 42
    That's gotta be one of the more ignorant remarks I've read.

    Excuse my ignorance, biker4 - I've been told by several people, here and there & over the years, to avoid 4-cylinder cars. And while recently researching the '06 TSX & the '06 IS, I stumbled across a TSX-owner who said he wished he'd spent the extra money on the IS because he felt the TSX was a bit sluggish.

    Please don't blast me for not knowing much about cars. I have no one to turn to & thought I could write here for guidance.
  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    Yes indeedy, you can get guidance here. Sometimes folks are a little quick to misunderstand - and jump at people - but usually they mean no harm, they just forget that not everyone has the automotive background they do. Please feel free to ask any questions you have. Someone here will try to help, I'm sure of it.
  • fredvhfredvh Member Posts: 857
    I test drove the TSX automatic and it has plenty of power. I will not deny that a 6 will have generally more power than a 4 but it would not sway me from buying a 4. The TSX has more than enough power for every day driving. The new generation of 4-cylinder engines with 2.0 liters and above have very adequate power and in almost every case get much better mpg too.
  • sosksosk Member Posts: 42
    Thank you, fredvh, for your comments & info. And thank you very much for not belittling me for my question!
  • speedracer3speedracer3 Member Posts: 650
    Just to throw my hat in the debate. You can't just look at the number of cylinders, you have to pay attention to the size and weight of the car and how well the engine is suited to the car. I can tell you personally about two cars that I've owned where you could not just go on the number of cylinders in the car. My Audi A4 1.8T, while it has a tiny 4cyl engine and modest horsepower has great acceleration because of the turbo. My old Mazda Millenia had a 2.5L V6 and the car was so heavy that little old ladies with walkers were passing me. Could the Lexus be quicker of the line?, maybe. But I can tell you that the TSX has enough horsepower when it needs it. It is no dog, nor it will leave you feeling that you have to get out and push to make it go faster. I think the TSX has the right balance of handling, power and luxury plus it is a tremendous bargain. No knock on the Lexus, but I will not buy JUST BECAUSE it has 6 cylinders.
  • johnny420johnny420 Member Posts: 473
    Don't sweat the ignorance remark. It's just that anyone who owns a TSX knows for sure that the car is great on the freeways. In fact, it absolutely sings. All misinformed opinions aside, power is not an issue with this car.

    Does the IS350 have much more power? Sure. That doesn't mean the TSX is underpowered. It just means the 350 has more.

    Bottom line: the TSX is a remarkable all-around performer, very well-balanced and very, very fun to drive.

    It's up to you to decide if the appointments available in the IS350-250, BMW 3 series or other cars is important to you.

    I can say this: for the dollars, the TSX's combination of luxury, refinement and performance cannot be beat. :shades:

    BTW, for your friend the TSX owner, some of the fastest cars in the world are four bangers.
  • biker4biker4 Member Posts: 746
    I've been told by several people, here and there & over the years, to avoid 4-cylinder cars.

    You've been talking to some really biased and ignorant people. Sorry for the reply but some of the stuff on these boards is really for the birds. Some common sense is needed once in a while.

    Again, exept for bragin rights you shouldn't judge a car by what's under the hood - judge by how it performs on the street for YOU. Have you looked under hood of an IS? It could be anything from a sawing machine to a V12 under there - you can't tell from all of the plastic covering everything.

    The main thing you have to consider in this debate - are the interior/exterior looks worth the extra $5K on the IS? Everything else in the big scheme of things is a wash.
  • jfciii70jfciii70 Member Posts: 17
    sosk- just bought an 06' tsx and you have no need to worry about getting on the highway with this this baby. ;) I drove the TL and the TSX, TL is a 6 and sure is has a little more power, but trust me the TSX is no turtle. I live in the Dallas, Tx area and have a 45 minute commute on a very busy and congested freeway. :mad: The TSX has plenty of power and get up to get me around slower cars quickly and good braking to stop me swiftly. :surprise: Believe me , traffic around here sucks, and I love driving in it now with the TSX. Great car-smooth, sexy and the interior is very nice. Cockpit is very user friendly with good reach to the NAV controls if you dont feel like talking, and did I mention the sliding armrest-nice. Buy the TSX, you wont regret it. :)
  • harrybush00harrybush00 Member Posts: 76
    Sure, the two cars have similar horsepower and the IS250 DOES have more torque (and from what I hear, it's supposed to have a pretty wide torque band). However, acceleration numbers are much more dependent on the horsepower-to-weight ratio of the car. I don't know these numbers off the top of my head, but the TSX definitely has an advantage on this over the IS250. The peaky power delivery of the TSX might not give that neck-snapping acceleration off the line, but in terms of the 0-60mph times, I've seen numbers for the TSX to be around 7sec. with the manual, while Lexus posts a 7.9sec time for the IS250 (presumably for both the auto and the manual). I think the preception that the IS is quicker might just be from having a bit more torque at lower RPMs and different throttle response (maybe one is quicker than the other?).

    In the end, I think the extra weight on the IS250 will be enough to offset any difference in the torque output and it may actually be even slower than the TSX, even if that seat-of-the-pants feeling says otherwise.
  • sosksosk Member Posts: 42
    It seems like everyone here perfers the TSX over the IS. Has anyone here decided on the IS?
  • johnny420johnny420 Member Posts: 473
    You're posting in a TSX forum. You're going to get TSX-biased opinions.
  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    No, this isn't a "TSX forum" - it's a comparison between the two vehicles which will show up if you list all TSX discussions or if you list all IS 250 discussions. Equal exposure. So to speak. :)
  • ninjaguyninjaguy Member Posts: 21
    The IS may have more peak TQ, but until we see a graph showing the full-range power delivery, no conclusions about it being more "powerful" than the TSX can be made.
    What do you mean no conclusions can be made? As stated in my earlier post, I have driven both cars. The IS250 is more powerful. The car magazine tests have confirmed that the IS250 is more powerful. Notwithstanding the above, the IS is overpriced, and TSX is a much better value.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Member Posts: 3,118
    car magazine tests have confirmed that the IS250 is more powerful

    Sorry, I haven't seen any magazine tests comparing the IS250 with the TSX. Can you post 2 or 3 links so I can see confirmation that the IS250 is more powerful?
  • ninjaguyninjaguy Member Posts: 21
    Look at the summary sheets at the back of each magazine (Car and Driver, Road and Track, Motor Trend, etc.) or look at their web sites for the info.
This discussion has been closed.