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Lexus IS 250 AWD vs. Audi A4 2.0 quattro

tarukytaruky Member Posts: 18
edited March 2014 in Audi
I am a 2004 Audi A4 quattro owner. My premium purchase plan (basically a flexible lease/balloon payment program) ends in a few months and I've narrowed my replacement choices to the A4 and IS 250. I have test driven both and like certain features in each. Audi: The drive is a little more peppy with that European purr. Interior materials are first rate, but the car is a little short on bells and whistles. Lexus: Not quite as athletic, but very quiet and comfy ride. Also great interior materials and I like the voice activated nav and rearview camera.

I would like your opinions on how useful the high tech stuff in the IS 250 is such as the voice activated navigation. Do you find yourselves just using the touchscreen mostly, or is the voice activation practical and efficient? Does the smart key system make things much easier?

Can any of you comment on build quality/reliability comparisons between the two? I would like to purchase my next vehicle and keep it the next 8 years or so. I've been told that the Audi turbo engines can wear out over time, is that an advantage the Lexus has?

I know a lot of it is a matter of personal preference, but I'm really torn between the two. Any advice is much appreciated.


  • jzalkinjzalkin Member Posts: 56
    I use the touchscreen all the time, but the 2006 has an override to use the NAV while driving that the newer models don't.

    I will never own another car without the smartkey. It is great to walk up, open the door, push button and go. Not try to dig out a key. Really usefull when I am carrying things or it is raining.

    Voice system works well, but I find it easier to reach over to hit a button than pause for a beep and then speak.

    I had an Audi A4 Cab and loved it and have an IS 250 and love it. The Lexus leather and wood quality is better. Long term reliability will vary, but odds are better with the Lexus. I have had less little things with my Lexus than with the Audi so far.

    Hope it helps.
  • tarukytaruky Member Posts: 18
    Thank you for the input. I suspected that the voice command might be superfluous technology, although I'm wondering if it allows you to enter a destination while driving? That would be nice, because God knows in my wife's Sienna how often we need to enter one while driving but can't.
  • sjaievesjaieve Member Posts: 252
    When I bought my 07 IS, I compared the 325, A4, TL. 325, I dropped this from my list cos its pricey for 30 more hp, has a plain interior, the i drive has not received great reception and the run flats have a lower threadlife are expensive to replace and not as comfortable as regular tyres. The A4 has the worst interior of the ELLPS IMO,is second in price to the BMW in price, not as reliable as the Lexus (see consumer report magazine), as you rightfully said, is lacking on the bells and whistles, even a 2007 nissan altima has more features than this car. The TL, it was a matter of personal preference why I chose the Lex otherwise the TL is a great car as well. I am very happy with my purchase, love everything about this car. The only drawback is the HP. When I bought the car I was not shopping for a car with lots of HP but lots of luxury, reliable, great interior and fuel efficient. I am assuming HP is of no concern to you as well.
  • tarukytaruky Member Posts: 18
    Horsepower is not as critical to me as handling and a ride that is comfortable yet lets me feel the road. Honestly I was OK with my A4's 180hp, I'm sure I would be fine with 200 or so (whether the IS or A4). I've gotta disagree with you on the Audi interior though, as I think the materials are first rate, better than most. What it is is a little plain, but I'm OK with that. I definitely felt like I was in the lap of luxury while test driving the IS.

    Both cars were far and away better than the G35 I test drove. While the G is high on horsepower I found the ride to be much like driving an Accord. I was less than impressed by the interior. I haven't test driven the BMW, but like you I'm turned off by the price and an interior that isn't too appealing. The TL was out for me because I want AWD.
  • kc567567kc567567 Member Posts: 29
    I have never even bothered to program the voice commands ,,,,, just don't think its worth the hassle. I like the smartkey a lot too ,,,, I only touch the remote to open all 4 windows and moon roof as I approach the car. Faster cool off, and I usually drive with air off and windows down anyway.
  • sjaievesjaieve Member Posts: 252
    I guess we can agree to disagree on the interior of the A4. I will just give you my experience with the IS AWD to help you with your decision. Mine came equipped with navi, a must on this car IMO:
    Miles driven to date 20,000 (I had a long commute to work)
    Never replaced the tyres, should be able to go for another 10,000 miles.
    Average mpg to date 27
    Max mpg hwy 32
    lowest ever recorded mpg, stop and go, 18
    repairs to date: none
    Issues with car: like other IS owners, brake dust.
    Great performance in snow, can take on any snow storm
    Excellent dealership experience, maintenance costs are reasonable.

    You will have absolutely no problems with this car since everything that comes with it works flawlessly every time.

    Good luck with your purchase, whichever one you decide to buy
  • andrey600andrey600 Member Posts: 3
    In my opinion, A4 is much better car than IS250. Audi is faster than Lexus. I have a 6-speed manual, but even auto vs auto Audi is faster and more responsive. The quality of interior in Audi is better, especially the seats. Exterior is a matter of taste, but with a S-line package A4 looks more sportier than Lexus. In terms of handling, Audi again is on top.
    I agree on the fact that Lexus will have more options for the same price. But that's always the case when you choose between German vs Japanese cars. Driving experience vs more options. If you want a good alternative to Audi, you should consider BMW or MB. Lexus is different department.
  • rjlaerorjlaero Member Posts: 659
    I don't think any car brand has a better looking real wood veneer than Audi, but everybody has their own opinion.

    Lots of the japaneses brands are not real wood, they're actually painted metal and fiberboard.
  • sjaievesjaieve Member Posts: 252
    I guess audi a4 is well known for their interiors :P

    acura tl does not use wood but the other japanese vehicles, Lexus and Infiniti do. Go to their websites to confirm this, its really easy.
  • louisweilouiswei Member Posts: 3,715
    and I am an IS350 owner. I have no input on the performance of IS250 AWD and A4 Quattro since I have driven neither before. However, interior wise, hands down goes to the IS. The IS interior utilizes higher quality material and looks more "modern". The only area that the A4 is on par with the IS is the fit-n'-finish.

    Also, I don't like the 4 banger turbo, the turbo-lag is horrible. It maybe faster than the IS but the 2.5L V6 is definitely smoother (I have driven the IS250 before, just not the AWD version).
  • sjaievesjaieve Member Posts: 252
    I think in the grand scheme of things, the A4 in terms of perfomance, is not going to achieve much on the road than the IS. I mean, there are both similarly powered and I admit the A4 is faster than the IS. Both cars will be slower than say, the cheaper 2008 altima coupe, probably the cheaper honda accord V6 model and the list of cheaper cars goes on. I would rather be in the more luxuriosly appointed, more modern, more bells and whistles car (and bear in mind I paid less for this car than the A4). At least I am paying a premium for those luxuries. I cannot pay a premium for the A4 for performance, that is nonsense since 200hp does not give you performance. if you want perfomance, the same amount of money will buy you the g35, and guess what, you will still have more bells and whistles than the A4.
  • tarukytaruky Member Posts: 18
    Well, I went ahead and purchased the IS 250. Sold the A4 to carmax. Interestingly I made a small profit (got more than my premium purchase payoff), turned out better than waiting 5 more months to turn it in. Here were the factors in my decision:

    1. The Audi dealer couldn't find any A4 2.0T's with navigation. He asked me if I would instead go with the 3.0 "for a few thousand more". Thousands more, worse gas mileage, and power I really didn't need in the first place...hmmm, enticing.

    2. Lexus reliability. I just cannot get beyond the fact that the A4 2.0T's don't last long. I remember someone in the Audi finance office once telling me that if I wanted to purchase the A4 instead of leasing, I should get the extended warranty "because the turbos eventually break down". I wanted my next car to be nice but something I keep for many years and eventually save money on.

    3. Rear view camera, smart key...very cool features which I find myself using and enjoying.

    4. Lexus dealerships/service are first rate. The dealer service dept in our area is open 365 days a year until 9 pm. Loaner Lexus car for $5.00/day (the Audi dealer offers a piece of crap Enterprise rental). Service waiting area is cush cush cush. May sound frivolous, but having a pleasant dealer experience means more to you after bad dealer experiences (not with Audi, they are OK).

    Both interiors I really like; while they are very different they are both high quality. Power is the same, let's face it. Each goes 0-60 in about 8.0-8.3 sec. As a matter of fact I read that the IS AWD may be a fraction of a sec faster, but who cares.

    I love the car, do not regret my purchase for one moment. Were I leasing again I might have gone with the Audi, but for a $35K purchase I am happy.
  • britcrlvrbritcrlvr Member Posts: 83
    Clearly you can't go wrong with the Lexus, reliability is a guarantee materials are top notch, and it holds its value well. The downside is that in my opinion, after have driven both Lexus and Toyota models, they feel so vanilla, compared to the Audi I feel like I have a connection. However, if this doesn't bother you the Lexus should make you happy. The last complaint I have with the Lexus is the fact that its rear looks awful with the over protruding wheel arches. I don't think the IS has sold particularly well, but I would offer 7000 off the MSRP not including tax title and registration.
  • tarukytaruky Member Posts: 18
    From what I've read the IS 250 has sold a little more than the A4. Both are behind the BMW and Infiniti in sales. I do agree with you on the Audi connecting with you, I felt the same way with my A4. It was a wonderful car.
  • sjaievesjaieve Member Posts: 252
    I think thats great that the IS is behind the BMW & Infiniti, those guys have more models on offer than the IS and so would cater for a larger cross section of the market. Can you direct me towards where I can get the information for sales numbers for the cars. I have been trying to get it with no luck. Congrats on your purchase, that was a wise decision, esp the Nav option :)
  • tarukytaruky Member Posts: 18
    JD Power report.

    Here is the link for the A4;

    Here is the link for the IS 250;

    The information is at the bottom of each page. Hope that helps.
  • britcrlvrbritcrlvr Member Posts: 83
    your advice on the JD power report is invaluable especially for the total number of cars sold.
  • britcrlvrbritcrlvr Member Posts: 83
    does anyone one know where information can be found on the total number of each individual car model is produced by the manufacturer.
  • sjaievesjaieve Member Posts: 252
    Thanks, the website had all the information I needed.
  • nyaudinyaudi Member Posts: 25
    The IS250 AWD would have been on my list if they offered a manual... without it, it's just another generic Japanese car that gets lost among the camrys and accords. I drove the last gen IS300 manual and really liked it and that car really stood out a bit more. Unfortunately, AWD was a must for me so we got an A4 3.0.

    The day Lexus offers AWD with all of their powertrain options, I think their sales will really start to ramp up in the northeast.

    Would also like to see a redesign that looks less like a Mazda... take Audi's styling, BMW's handling, and let Lexus engineers manage the reliability of the components and then you'd have my dream car :-)
  • louisweilouiswei Member Posts: 3,715
    I'll appreciate a lot if Lexus stay away from Audi's styling. BMW's handling? Definitely, but not Audi's styling.
  • nyaudinyaudi Member Posts: 25
    I still have a hard time telling the new IS from a Mazda. That's not really a good thing for a $35K car... I actually liked the first gen better as they really tried to make it a little sportier looking and a tad more unique - wish they'd get back to that and less like every other car on the road. Would get me interested in Lexus again.
  • hauschildhauschild Member Posts: 62
    Anybody have any new things to add? I have a 2005.5 A4 Quattro, but am considering purchasing the IS250AWD.

    I am holding out until I drive the 2009 A4. Will the 2009 IS250AWD be any different from the 2008 model???
  • hauschildhauschild Member Posts: 62
    Wow - I'm in the same boat. I have a 2005.5 Quattro 2.0T also and just this past weekend test drove an AWD IS250.

    Let me tell you how looks can be deceiving! My A4 blows the IS250 outta the water in my opinion. The A4:
    -has a more suppple ride
    -feels a lot "quicker"
    -handles harsh surfaces more civily
    -has a bit less "confined" feel within the cabin
    -seems less "pressed" when stomping on the accelerator - the A4 seems to "want" to be driven - I certainly don't get that feeling with the IS250.

    The only thing I liked about the IS250 was the seating position and seats seemed to hold me a bit better. To be fair, my current A4 is loaded with the wood trim so it also appears a helluva lot more upscale than the IS250.

    After I finished my test drive, I was left feeling really disappointed in the Lexus. I had my mind made up that I was going to give up performance and driveability for reliability - but I can't do it. Why spend 36k on a car that is basically no more fun to drive than a Toyota Camry?

    To me, somebody that would opt for the IS250 over an A4 is probably somebody who's never owned a German sedan - or somebody who prefers reliability over all other things.

    I also sat inside the new A4, but didn't want to drive it for fear of makine the purchase. I will say that while everybody seems to treasure a "larger" A4, I kinda like the sleekness of the old one. However, it looks pretty nice - except the bare bones A4's interior isn't very appealing. I love the tan interiors with the birch trim - makes it look sweet.

    Anyhow, I have little experience with luxury sedans, but I don't play favorites when it comes to spending 35 thousand friggin' dollars. Personally, I think you'll be disappointed going from your A4 to an IS250 unless you had a real run-of-the-mill A4.
  • ajfinoakajfinoak Member Posts: 58
    I have an '08 IS 250 after having to return an '06 BMW 325i under the CA lemon Law. I was too frustrated with BMW to get another one and test drove an A4 twice while shopping. Many of the A4 auto trans have a very annoying vibration when idling in gear that you could feel in the seat and steering wheel. Consumer Reports noted the same problem- not acceptable to me. Before the BMW I had a 97 Lexus ES 300 for 10 years with minimal problems. My nephew had a TT coupe and loved it but numerous problems. The IS is more of a sporty luxury car than a luxury sports car in my opinion than BMW and Audi is a little sportier but not worth the potential reliability issues after warranty.
  • hauschildhauschild Member Posts: 62
    So, an "annoying vibration" and you completely black-list the A4, which is leaps and bounds a better sport/luxury sedan than the IS250? That doesn't make any sense to me because it has absolutely nothing to do with the driving dynamics and overall performance of a car.

    I mean, I have an A4, but by no means am I blindly loyal. The IS250 looks sleek from the outside, but that's where its greatness ends. The interior is far too cramped, the sound system sounds nowhere near as good, there's an annoying lump on the floorboard right behind the foot you use to press the accelerator. The engine is smooth, but lacks adequate power for that price range. The seating position is excellent, but there are more blind spots than my A4, increasing the clausterphobic feeling inside the cabin.

    Basically, I guess the IS250 offers reliabitliy and that's where it smokes the A4. However, if that is the case, then there are oodles of "reliable" sedans out yonder that perform on par with the IS250 and while maybe not as refined and sleek and appointed, are significantly less expensive. If I were an IS250 shopper, I'd opt for a loaded Ford Fusion for about 18k and laugh hall the way to the bank. :)
  • jzalkinjzalkin Member Posts: 56
    I had an '04 Audi A4 Convertible and now have an '06 Lexus IS 250 (both bought new).

    Here are some pros for the Lexus (since there are a lot of anti Lexus people (i.e. hauschild):
    - Better quality:
    Not talking about interior look (that is personal preference). Feel the interior lining of the A pillar and you will know what I mean. Lexus is about details. It has held up better in the two years that I owned each. Every oil change I had with the Audi I had a list of small niggles to be taken care of (replace this peeling switch, or this loose that...), but rarely have anything to have the Lexus dealership to deal with. I had 53,000 miles on the Audi when sold and 41,000 on the IS250.

    - Better ride:
    I live in south Florida where there are no hills and no curves. The Lexus is better suited for this type of driving and the V6 is smoother than the 1.8t was. No turbo charger will ever be better for smoothness than a naturally aspirated engine. It also gets great gas mileage.

    - Better value:
    Paid $32,500 for my car and got Navigation, Ventilated Seats, etc and the equivalent Audi was more. Audi seems to have given up on the value card and has priced to go head to head with BMW and Mercedes. Not sure that is a good move on Audi's part. Not to mention the Lexus IS250 is showing great resale value.

    Once I got out of warranty; I was on the hook to pay to keep the Audi looking/feeling new and that would be costly. After owning two years of both cars; I am more confident in owning the Lexus out of warranty than I was the Audi.

    Just my thoughts having owned both brands.
  • hauschildhauschild Member Posts: 62
    I guess I must have missed quite a bt during my test drive of the IS250. :confuse:

    I will agree that an Audi needs to be "coddled" a bit more than, say a Lexus, but what people forget is that a Lexus is still a piece of machinery that has parts that will need to be replaced at some point.

    Years ago, my Mom bought into the Japanese hype too and she had to get a Suburu. It had a dog of an engine, but it ran like a champ until it hit about 80k in miles and then it was ridiculously expensive to maintain.

    In my humble and limited opinion, there's still a significant difference in performance between a German and Japanese luxury sports sedan that isn't difficult to detect with an open mind.
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