Premium compact car; Built in
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $17,700 – $45,800*

2013 Lexus IS C

2013 Lexus IS C

2013 Lexus IS C

2014 Lexus IS C

  • Steering/handling
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Quietness

The Lexus IS 250C impresses for its design, features, and materials. It also benefits from Lexus’ strong resale-value record. However, a lack of power and overall polish prevents it from being a truly compelling alternative to the Audi A5 or BMW 3-Series. The similarly equipped but far more powerful Lexus IS 350C is a much better choice if you truly desire this car.


The IS C was a 4-passenger, 2-door convertible with a power-retractable hard top, much like the rival BMW 3-Series Convertible and Infiniti G37 Convertible. It came in entry-level IS 250C, and more powerful IS 350C models.

The IS 250C and IS 350C was each sold in a single trim level and had a fair amount of included amenities. Among them were leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and keyless entry with pushbutton engine start.

The optional Luxury Package included upgraded upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, power sliding and folding front seats (to allow easier access to the rear seating area), driver-seat memory, rain-sensing wipers, and bi-xenon headlights. A navigation system was available as a standalone option or as part of a package that also included Lexus’ high-end Mark Levinson audio system.

The Luxury Package’s heated and ventilated seats were available separately, along with rear-obstacle detection and adaptive cruise control with pre-collision braking.

The IS 250C borrowed its drivetrain from the Lexus IS 250 sedan. It paired a 204-horsepower 2.5-liter V6 engine with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The Lexus IS 350C borrowed the IS 350 sedan’s 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. All are rear-wheel drive.

The EPA rated the IS 250C at 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway with the 6-speed manual transmission and 21/29 with the automatic. EPA estimated fuel economy for the IS 350C was 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway. Both required premium-grade gasoline.

The Lexus IS 250C and IS 350C each included a standard complement of expected and federally mandated safety features. Adaptive cruise control with pre-collision braking was optional.

Yearly Updates

2010 IS C
Newly optional on the IS 350C was the F-Sport Special Edition Package, which included unique trim, a sport suspension, and 19-inch wheels on summer-only performance tires.
2011 IS C
There were no significant changes for the 2012 IS C.
2012 IS C
The IS 250C was no longer available with a 6-speed manual transmission.
2013 IS C
The 2014 versions of the IS C were largely unchanged.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

The IS 250C paired a 204-horsepower 2.5-liter V6 engine with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission was dropped after 2012. The IS 350C had a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and a 6-speed automatic. All IS C variants were rear-wheel drive.

dohc V61
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 204
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
dohc V62
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/210
Engine HP 306
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 277
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


1. IS 250C. In 2011, EPA-estimated fuel economy was revised to 19/27 with the manual transmission and 21/30 with automatic. 2. IS 350C. In 2011, EPA-estimated fuel economy was revised to 20/27.

Road Test

The IS 250C feels sluggish on launch, strained up steep grades, and very shy on mid-range punch for highway passing and merging. The convertible exacerbates these issues on account of its heavier curb weight; the C checks in at about 3,800 pounds, nearly 400 more than a comparable IS 250 sedan. Lexus says the 250C does 0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds, which frankly seems a bit optimistic. No Lexus IS 350C models have been made available for Consumer Guide evaluation.

In Consumer Guide testing, an IS 250C averaged 21.4 mpg. Premium-grade gas is required.

The IS 250C ride quality is like its sedan counterpart, closely matching its rivals, but suffering from some faint wheel patter and float. Convertibles add a bit of shake over bumps with the roof open, but it’s not as noticeable as on other 4-seat convertibles. No models with the F Sport Package have been made available for testing.

IS corners with little body lean, secure grip, and an agile feel. IS models have electric power steering that is quick and informative. The brakes furnish swift, drama-free stops, but pedal action was slightly grabby in some test cars.

Coarse-surface tire thrum is noticeable. Wind noise is modest, and wind rush isn’t intrusive top down at highway speeds. IS 250’s engine is a bit coarser during acceleration than we would expect from a Lexus. Yet it’s subdued and relaxed in highway cruising.

IS C has Lexus’ usual large, legible gauges and handy, intuitive minor controls. The steering wheel obscures switches on the lower dashboard, though. Some displays wash out in sunlight with the top down. The screen of the optional navigation system is easy to read. It controls many audio and climate functions. Some are more complicated than they should be, but easy once you’ve acclimated.

Cabin decor includes rich-looking upholstery, soft-touch surfaces, and high-grade plastics. The inside of the top is nicely finished.

There is adult-size leg space in the front seats, but headroom is very limited for 6-footers with the top up. This is the same problem we run into with the IS sedans. The seats are comfortably shaped and padded. Rear-corner visibility in convertibles is good thanks to fold-down rear headrests and narrow roof pillars. Straight-back visibility is somewhat limited.

Rear-seat room is very snug, even more so than the already cramped IS sedan. Top up, IS C suffers the usual awkward twist-and-stoop entry common to 2-door cars. The available power sliding and folding front seats help somewhat. Overall space in the convertible is suitable only for short trips. Thicker sidewalls necessitated by the convertible top encroach on shoulder and particularly elbow space.

IS C has a somewhat small trunk (10.8 cubic feet with the top up) but, surprisingly, it holds a decent amount of luggage. Volume drops to just 2.4 cubic feet with the top retracted, and the opening to the remaining space is just a narrow slot. Cabin storage is mediocre.


Model Tested: Lexus IS 250C

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 7
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 5

Total: 51


2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.5 182.5 70.9 55.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.8 17.1 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 36.1 44.1 25.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 Not tested 2-door convertible


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots


Recall History

2008-11 Lexus IS C
Description: Certain 2008-2011 Lexus IS vehicles have insufficiently torqued wiper-arm fasteners that may become inoperative when blocked by snow.
2008-11 Lexus IS C
Description: Certain 2008-2011 Lexus IS vehicles may develop a fuel leak where the fuel pressure sensor attaches to the fuel delivery pipe.
2010-11 Lexus IS 350C
Description: Certain 2010 and 2011 Lexus IS 350C vehicles made between November 25, 2009 and July 19, 2011 may experience a failure of the Variable-Valve Timing assembly because of bolts that become loose over time.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.