Lexus IS 250 vs. BMW 328i/328i xDrive

The Lexus IS 250 and the BMW328 i and 328i xDrive can often be seen as competitors in the search for the perfect sport sedan.




The Lexus Insider says the following about the two vehicles:

IS 250 is tuned for responsiveness and fun, the 328i is tuned for comfort.

The IS is a true Lexus, meaning that it’s smooth, refined and extremely civilized in daily driving. But Lexus also focused significant engineering attention on steering, suspension and chassis tuning to achieve crisp, athletic and engaging performance. So this is also a sports sedan with incredible responsiveness. The stock 328i is tuned for comfort and, in order to get the famed BMW handling, a buyer must choose the more costly Sport Line or M Sport Line Package. The BMW buyer then has to add the Dynamic Handling Package on top of the Sport Packages to get the best performance. With the IS, you get luxury and quick reflexes right from the start. And, as the enthusiast press has noted, the great handling doesn’t come at the expense of ride comfort—it’s a win, win.

IS 250 is powered by a V6 engine; the 328i is powered by a turbo 4-cylinder engine.

The BMW engine is powerful, but that power comes from a hard-working 4-cylinder turbo that doesn’t sound, feel, or rev like a refined V6. The IS 250 engine is smooth, balanced and sweet sounding, and it doesn’t suffer from moments of lag while the turbocharger spins up to speed. In the 328i, the drivetrain is always “busy,” as the engine transitions from off-boost to on-boost, and shifts up and down through its eight gears. By comparison, the IS’ V6 builds speed without any of the “peaks and valleys” in its power delivery. Even at idle, the two engines reveal their character, with the BMW 4-cylinder generating more noise and vibration than the silky and relaxed Lexus V6.

IS 250 has dramatic new exterior styling; the 328i has traditional sedan styling.

From its aggressive spindle grille and arrow-shaped daytime running lights to the wedge shape of its rocker panels and angular taillamps, the IS’ styling is distinctive and bold, and instantly recognizable as a sports sedan. The IS looks like it’s always ready to launch. BMW has taken a more conservative approach, with a traditional front fascia, formal sedan profile and subtle design cues. BMW went with safer, more restrained styling for the 3 Series. Lexus gave designers the freedom to draw a sport sedan with attitude, personality and a bit of swagger.

IS 250 has an upscale interior design; the 328i has a more conservative design.

Both the Lexus and BMW have high-quality interiors, but the IS goes a step further by integrating sophisticated design cues and rich materials. The gauges are detailed like an expensive wristwatch. The center console has a layered, three-dimensional architecture and the surfaces all have a feeling of depth and substance. In contrast, the BMW’s interior feels much more “two-dimensional,” with its upright dash, flat console and plain controls. There is plenty of function, but little form. Even the standard BMW leatherette or optional leather feels less luxurious than the IS’ standard NuLuxe or optional leather. The BMW interior says “sedan,” but the IS interior says “sport sedan.”

IS 250 has 10 standard airbags; 1 the 328i comes standard with eight airbags.

Both vehicles come standard with driver’s and front passenger’s airbags, driver’s and front passenger’s knee airbags, driver’s and front passenger’s seat-mounted side airbags, and side curtain airbags for the front and outboard rear passengers. However, Lexus goes one step further and adds standard rear seat-mounted side airbags, a feature that can give the owner, and the outboard rear passengers, more confidence and reassurance. BMW does not offer rear seat-mounted side airbags on the 328i.

IS 250 has many standard convenience features that cost extra on the 328i.

Both IS 250 and the 328i have similar starting prices, and yet the Lexus comes with premium features that cost extra—or aren’t offered at all—on the 328i. Standard IS features include SmartAccess with push-button Start/Stop, power glass moonroof, voice command hands-free controls, Bluetooth® streaming audio,  even live traffic and weather reports via HD Radio™ —at no extra cost. Available features that are not offered on the BMW include ventilated front seats and an 835-watt Mark Levinson® Premium Surround Sound system. 

IS 250 has standard sport/performance features that cost extra on the 328i.

Although the 3 Series has a well-earned reputation for performance, the IS provides sport features that signal its mission as a driver’s car. Standard features that cost extra on the 328i include sport suspension tuning, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, High-Intensity Discharge headlamps and conventional all-season tires. The standard BMW tire is a run-flat design that can be stiff, noisy and costly to replace. Lexus also offers LED headlamps and the LFA-inspired TFT instruments in the F SPORT Package—features not available on the 328i.

IS 250 (2013) won IntelliChoice’s Smart Choice 2award for Retained Value.

There are many accolades that can be given to a vehicle and some, like Car and Driver’s 10-Best Award for the BMW 3 Series, are prestigious. The IS has received its own praise based on predicted value, as the 2013 IS 250 won the IntelliChoice award for Retained Value, along with a rating of “Excellent” for Total Cost of Ownership. The 2013 BMW 328i did not win the Retained Value award and its Total Cost of Ownership rating is “Above Average”—a good rating, but not as good as the one given to the IS. In particular, the 2013 IS is predicted to have much lower depreciation and much lower repair cost over the span of five years. Customers may find that this award reflects the high level of thoroughness, consistency and precision engineered into the IS 250.


 Peterson Lexus of Boise

We always have access to a great selection of Lexus IS 250’s.  Let us know if you have any questions regarding the Lexus IS or any other Lexus model.  We are located on the corner of Fairview and Maple Grove in Boise, Idaho or call us at 208.378.9009.



photo credit: BMW and Lexus

content: Lexus Insider


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