The Lexus IS 500 Is The Last Great Muscle Car

The phrase “muscle car” can conjure up several unique photographs, feelings and presumed sensations. I suspect every single reader has their own particular definition of what a muscle car or truck is.

But what essentially is a muscle mass vehicle?&#13

Does it have to have a V8 motor? Perfectly, if so, then you wouldn’t phone the Buick Grand Countrywide a muscle car or truck.&#13

Does it want a body-on-system chassis — that means that muscle mass autos are genuinely only of a specific vintage? Very well, that would exclude the fashionable Dodge Scat Pack and Hellcat vehicles and what else are they if not muscle automobiles?&#13

Does it have to take care of improperly? Badges this sort of as “Boss” and “Z/28” would beg to vary.&#13

Does it have to be American? Check with an Australian. Or a German for that subject.&#13

We do seem to know what a muscle car or truck is not. It’s not a sports auto (sorry, but Corvettes have never ever been muscle mass automobiles). It’s also not a sporting activities coupe. Or a GT car or truck. But… can it be a truck or SUV? It is tough to phone the Durango Hellcat or older entries like the GMC Syclone everything but “muscle cars” (or, you know, “muscle trucks”  — but what ever).&#13

The reality is that contacting anything a “muscle car” is a ton like calling somebody a “hipster” in that it’s almost normally utilized as a vapid, nebulous and nondescript label. It is a phrase utilised to describe the perception that anything offers you, alternatively than what it’s in fact supposed to be.&#13

Well… there is a single issue that I would argue defines a muscle mass automobile and which in truth separates it from every other classification of fanatic motor vehicle. A muscle mass vehicle is a motor vehicle which exists for the sole reason of supporting, featuring and highlighting a effective engine.&#13


Dodge Scat Pack and Hellcats? Yup. Buick Grand Countrywide? You guess. SVT-era Cobra Mustangs? Certainly. AMG Mercedes? Welcome to the bash.&#13

I think as an asterix, a muscle mass motor vehicle also has to be dependent on what was initially a unexciting, commuter motor vehicle chassis — not a reason built sporting activities automobile chassis. That ailment may possibly seem to be like a caveat, but it’s important to the beginning of the muscle mass car or truck. Believe about the GTO and Chevelle truly just staying LeMans and Malibus respectively… albeit with substantially far more highly effective and (for the time) “exotic” engines under the hood.&#13

It is why I never imagine the S550 Mustang and sixth-technology Camaro are really muscle cars. Confident, they have incredibly effective (in fact, extra potent than they’ve at any time been) V8 engines. And yes, they are incredibly popular rental cars. And yes the Camaro does share a chassis with other GM items. But their inception, layout and execution are so bespoke and purposeful, that I come across it tricky to imagine about them as nearly anything other than “sports coupes”. Perhaps you could make a case that the Shelby GT500 and Camaro ZL1 are a lot more carefully aligned with the “muscle car” definition — but it’s challenging to get at the rear of that idea when all those vehicles will operate neck and neck with a Porsche 911 GT3 on observe.&#13

In truth of the matter, I consider a substantially more exact roundup of American muscle cars and trucks would be the current Dodge SRT automobiles, as nicely as the Cadillac Blackwing goods — ordinary commuter cars and trucks, with silly, excessively powerful engines beneath the hood.&#13

And with all that in head, I obtain it unattainable to not include things like the Lexus IS 500 in the muscle mass auto discussion.&#13

It’s based mostly on a familiar do-no-harm commuter car — the Lexus IS. Under the hood is a significant-functionality V8 engine — initially only intended for flagship sports activities automobiles like the Lexus LC and RC-F. That engine makes 472 horsepower, which is pushed completely to the rear wheels. Speaking of wheels, it works by using a staggered tire established up (*ahem* drag racing), skinnier 235 width tires in the entrance, and meatier 265 tires in the rear.&#13

Lexus IS500&#13

Now if you ended up to re-read through that very last paragraph and get all the manufacturer names out, you could very effectively feel I was talking about the Chevelle SS 454 or perhaps even Torino Cobra or Plymouth GTX. “A do-no-harm commuter vehicle, impregnated with a large-efficiency motor originally intended only for flagship sports activities cars.” Appears acquainted, ideal?&#13

Of program, you might be sitting there in a rage thinking, “No, no, no the IS 500 is a luxurious athletics sedan, it simply cannot be a muscle mass car!” And to that I would reply that it is ok to be completely wrong in some cases.&#13

The challenge is that the IS 500 doesn’t definitely seem fascinated in carrying out “sports sedan” or “luxury” points very very well. On the luxury front, there is definitely practically nothing to publish house about. Positive, it has all the predicted modern day facilities, but a nicely-optioned Kia would place this issue to disgrace. Even the inside supplies sense kinda horrible and crude. Very un-Lexus like… but very, incredibly muscle car like. The inside is like a boardroom govt who has determined to toss on a pair of Levis and a Carhart t-shirt. It is white collar, dressing down to do a blue collar imitation.&#13

On the “sports sedan” front, the IS 500 just doesn’t fairly provide the kind of driving self-assurance and interaction that you would desire from a modern entry into that class. The eight-velocity torqueflite transmission is flat out lazy. The steering can take your inputs primarily as strategies, and mixed with the thinner tires and extra body weight of the 5. V8 up front, you have to wrestle the entrance end a little bit about turns. In Activity + mode, the rear end slips and slides, and breaks the tires unfastened on a whim.&#13

Try out launching the motor vehicle with traction manage off, and you’ll just do huge, smokey burnout.&#13

That’s all bad sports sedan behavior… but it is prime marks muscle mass automobile behavior. Sure, the transmission is lazy, but it makes shifting an party — you really feel that dump of torque as you hear the excellent “snap, crackle, pop” song of the Lexus 5.. The front finish plows and the rear stop slides and the tires split unfastened and you are it’s possible not placing lap data, but you are possessing a hell of a snicker.&#13

The total spirit, the complete purpose of the IS 500 is just to permit motorists experience the joy of the Lexus 5. V8. And not only does the IS 500 totally succeed in that intent, but I would also argue that working with their 5. V8 to make a muscle car is the finest software Lexus has observed for this motor to date.&#13

Certainly, you can have the 5. in the Lexus LC — and when that automobile is even now the ideal vehicle I’ve ever pushed, I have to acknowledge that even I would not obtain a person in its place of a 911. Similar goes with the RC-F Keep track of Edition, which, like the IS 500, I adore for becoming an absolute snicker. It roars its motor, and spins its tires like an idiot as it shakes its ass-close all around every single corner. It also looks like it’s straight out of a online video video game or anime with its sharp, angular Gundam appears. But mainly because of the $130,000 price tag… I just can not think about purchasing one over a Nissan GT-R or Shelby GT500… or again, a 911.&#13

Enter the IS 500, which is every single little bit as pleasurable to travel on the road as the RC-F, but is priced like —and in truth accelerates as immediately as — a Dodge Scat Pack, and that helps make it a much far more tempting order. Our as-examined design came in just beneath $80,000 — and that was with the $4,750 “Launch Edition” selection. With a base MSRP just underneath $73,000, it is about $15,000 a lot less than the base two-door RC-F, and $30,000 fewer than the base LC 500 rate.&#13

And if I’m trustworthy, I experienced a lot extra pleasurable in the IS 500… for the reason that it’s so understated. I just cannot explain to you how numerous tailgating BMWs and Charger R/Ts I simply brushed off in the course of my 7 days with the IS 500. Nobody is expecting a seemingly stock Lexus IS to have just about 500 horsepower on tap. The car or truck offers a whole lot of the “sleeper” underdog experience that muscle mass auto fans fantasize about.&#13

What seriously would make the IS 500 a considerable entry, having said that, is that we are about to enter however one more twilight for muscle cars — akin to the early 1970s. Even though it appears the Mustang will endure with a standard V8 for at least a very little although lengthier, the Dodge Scat Packs and Hellcats will vanish following 2023. The Blackwings — and in truth all V8 Caddys are done soon after this calendar year. The potential of the Camaro may possibly very effectively be entirely electric, if it life on at all.&#13

In the midst of all that, Lexus of all brands has shipped one particular of the purest interpretations of a muscle motor vehicle in the modern-day era — and it will likely be the quite very last one.&#13

So if I was moping all around waiting around for my new Dodge Charger 392 to hit the lot, I would assume really seriously about finding my deposit again and purchasing a Lexus — this Lexus, alternatively. I assure, it is all the things you’ve been on the lookout for in a muscle mass motor vehicle.

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