Among the many prominent names in the car industry, Lexus is one of the younger ones. The company is a little over 3 decades old, and with the release of its first model, the LS 400, it got pretty good results in a world dominated by other luxury brands.
One of the many things that helped it was that Lexus is technically a sub-brand of Toyota, which is why it’s often referred to as a “luxury Toyota.” Throughout the years, the company was focused on luxurious vehicles, that is until the IS lineup.
This was the company’s effort to make a luxurious sedan with a bit of a sporty touch. Thanks to the success of the first generation, Lexus went on to release two more versions, which I’ll be covering today.
Even though the IS lineup isn’t the most popular, plenty of people own them, and if you’re in that category, you’re probably wondering what the best tires for it are. The IS250 and IS350 have a good amount of overlaps in both generations, so to cover as much as I can, I’m taking the 17-inch variants into consideration. Keep in mind that almost all tires on this list can be found in the 18-inch dimensions.
Before I start, I have to note one thing – I’m not covering the IS-F. You may find some of these tires in the 19-inch sizes for that model but double-check before purchasing.
What's In This Guide?
#1. Continental PremiumContact 6
I’ll start with a tire that I know well, and it’s in the grand touring segment. The Continental PremiumContact 6 is a tire that balances performance and touring-like properties, but it’s leaning more towards the first.
On the road, the PremiumContact 6 is an excellent performer for daily driving in dry conditions. There’s far more grip and traction than you’d ever need, so you won’t feel like you’re asking too much of it. Going more aggressively on a twisty road or even a track is something it can do with ease. Even though it will fade after a while, it won’t disappoint, considering that it’s a touring tire. You’re also getting a tire with dynamic handling characteristics. It’s quite responsive and will provide you with plenty of feedback.
The wet performance with the PremiumContact 6 is a bit disappointing, considering that it’s a Continental tire. It does very well for daily driving tasks, but it’s not a tire you should push hard. I was also a bit disappointed with the aquaplaning resistance, which isn’t terrible but is still behind the main rivals. One area that is very good is the very short braking distances.
You may think that the PremiumContact 6 should be well refined as a touring tire, and I wouldn’t categorize it as such. The comfort levels aren’t the highest in this class, and you should expect the ride to be slightly on the harsher side. You also shouldn’t expect it to be the quietest tire in this category. It’s decent around town and acceptable on the highway, but it can get noisy over rougher roads.
- Superior dry performance
- Handling is very responsive for a touring tire
- Short braking distances in wet
- Not the highest grip and traction on wet roads
- Comfort and noise levels are average
#2. Michelin Primacy 4
As part of the same category, the Michelin Primacy 4 is a tire that seems to do well in all the areas the previous one fell short. This also means it doesn’t do some things as good as the Continental tire I mentioned.
In dry conditions, the Primacy 4 is a tire that won’t disappoint, especially in everyday driving scenarios. You’ll have loads of grip and traction, so you can rely on it to provide a very safe driving experience. This also means that you’ll have short braking distances, so it’s an excellent performer. While you can push it a bit, the limit isn’t as high as its German rival. In addition to that, the handling is suitable for a touring tire but not as dynamic as an enthusiast would want it to be.
Wet performance is something that the Primacy 4 does very well, despite not being the absolute best in class. On damp roads, the tire will offer plenty of grip and traction, combined with short braking distances. The tire also provides excellent stability in heavy rain, thanks to the excellent aquaplaning resistance.
While it’s better than the PremiumContact 6, the Primacy 4 is just decent in terms of refinement. As far as comfort goes, it will absorb some of the bumps, but it won’t smooth them out completely, nor will it eliminate vibrations altogether. On the noise side of things, it’s decent, and it won’t be overly intrusive, but I was expecting a quieter ride from a grand touring tire
- Comfort levels are acceptable
- The aquaplaning resistance is excellent
- Braking distances are short
- Handling isn’t the most dynamic
- Not the quietest tire in this category
#3. Michelin CrossClimate 2
If you’re looking for an excellent grand touring tire you can use throughout the year, the CrossClimate 2 is one of the best. Michelin’s latest addition brought a lot of improvements over its predecessor, making it a solid option for your IS.
As a daily driver in dry conditions, the CrossClimate 2 is an excellent option. It has plenty of traction for accelerating, and the grip levels are excellent for going around corners. Naturally, it’s not a tire that can offer the best enjoyment on a twisty road, as it’s not designed for that. In terms of handling, the responsiveness levels are pretty good, but the feedback isn’t too pronounced. On the flip side, you get a tire with very short braking distances.
Wet conditions are another area where the CrossClimate 2 can deliver outstanding results. It has no issues with damp roads, and thanks to the high levels of grip and traction, you won’t feel like the tire is about to lose control. Similar to dry conditions, you get some of the shortest braking distances in this class. Michelin’s V-shaped tread pattern does an excellent job at evacuating water, making the tire planted even at higher speeds in heavy rain.
All-season tires are designed to be driven in winter, and the CrossClimate 2 delivers on that front. You’ll be getting solid traction in lighter conditions, and you won’t find it struggling over packed snow. Surprisingly, the tire seems to do decently well, even if the snow is a bit deeper.
Being a grand touring tire, Michelin put a lot of effort into making the CrossClimate 2 better than its predecessor. As a result, you have a tire that can easily absorb bumps and offer a plush and vibration-free riad. Here, you also have very low noise levels, and the most you’d hear from this tire is a hum at higher speeds.
One area where the CrossClimate 2 doesn’t do so well is in terms of the warranty. Michelin isn’t known for offering the longest treadwear warranty, so this comes with 60,000 miles. To be fair, it’s a slight bump over the 50,000-mile warranty of its predecessor.
- Class-leading braking distances
- Does well in snow conditions
- Exceptional dry and wet performance
- It’s a bit on the pricy side
- Not the longest treadwear warranty
#4. Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack
Since the IS is a decent highway cruiser, what if you want a very quiet tire? you get the Turanza QuietTrack. Bridgestone is well known for making well-refined tires, and I believe this is one of the best.
Similar to the previous tire on this list, the Turanza QuietTrack can deliver very high levels of grip and traction in dry conditions. You won’t have any issues with accelerating or going around a corner, as the tire will feel planted and stable in daily driving scenarios. Even though the performance is excellent, it’s not a tire you should consider for a day on a track. You may have some fun on a twisty road, and that’s as much as you should expect. With decently responsive handling and a good amount of feedback, it will be fine for most drivers, but enthusiasts won’t find it per their linking.
When it comes to wet performance, you have a solid performer, but not in all aspects. As far as grip and traction go on damp roads, the Turanza QuietTrack does pretty well. It’s stable, and you’ll always be in control if you don’t exceed the limits. In addition to this, you’re also getting excellent aquaplaning resistance, so the performance in heavy rain won’t be crippled. The braking distances are the areas where the tire doesn’t do so well. While they are short and safe, there are some better performers in this class.
In wintery conditions, the Turanza QuietTrack is a tire that can deliver usable performance. In shallow snow, the traction is good enough, as long as you’re not expecting it to perform like a dedicated winter tire. You will notice it struggling a bit more over packed snow and a lot more in a deep one.
One advantage the Turanza QuietTrack has over its Michelin counterpart is the warranty. Bridgestone offers the tire with an 80,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is near the top in this class.
- Noise levels are the lowest in this class
- Long treadwear warranty
- High levels of grip and traction in dry and wet conditions
- Wet braking distances fall behind its competitors
- Not the most affordable option
#5. Yokohama Avid Ascend GT
Let’s face it, the previous two models aren’t the most affordable ones, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to check out the Avid Ascend GT. While it’s still technically a premium model, it’s a more affordable option than the previous two.
As a touring tire, the dry performance of the Avid Ascend GT is excellent. It will cover your daily driving needs without any issues, thanks to the high levels of grip and traction. Even though they won’t be nearly enough for taking your IS on a track, you may have some fun on a twisty road. This is also thanks to the decent levels of responsiveness, but don’t expect a lot of feedback. Stability is another area where the tire does well, and even at higher speeds, it will feel steady and planted.
Another area where the Avid Ascend GT does exceptionally well is in wet conditions. The tire has no issues with slip on damp roads, and while you can get the rear wheels spinning, you’ll need to be a bit more aggressive. As far as stopping power goes, the tire’s braking distances are very short, putting it near the top of this class. You’ll also have excellent stability in heavy rain, as the tire’s aquaplaning resistance is superb.
Winter performance is something that the Avid Ascend GT does well, at least as far as all-season tires go. If the snow is shallow and unpacked, the performance is quite good, something that some of its rivals aren’t too good at. Packed or deep snow are areas where it will struggle, but you may find it usable.
In the refinement department, the Avid Ascend GT does very well. You’ll get very low noise levels close to what the Turanza QuietTrack can offer, regardless of the speed or surface you’re driving on. Comfort is pretty good, and for the most part, the tire will have no issues smoothing out road imperfections. When you hit a larger pothole, it will soften it up so the jolt won’t be too harsh and will eliminate most vibrations.
The warranty is the area where the Avid Ascend GT is a bit better than the Michelin model but behind the Bridgestone one. You’ll have a 65,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is decent, but not the best you can find in this class.
- High refinement levels
- Excellent performance in dry and wet conditions
- Short braking distances
- Snow performance is only decent.
- Average treadwear warranty
#6. Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
So far, I mentioned tires that either aren’t designed for snow or have limited performance, so if you’re looking for a good winter tire for your IS, you should check out the Blizzak WS90.
The Blizzak WS90 is an excellent tire in dry conditions, capable of delivering high levels of grip and traction. Thanks to those, you can be sure it won’t struggle when accelerating or slipping in the corners, making it among the best in this class. Another area where the tire excels is in the braking distances, which are also very short. As a winter tire, it also surprises with the way it handles. Sure, it’s not a performance tire, but it’s decently responsive and easy to control when driving on the limit.
When it comes to rain, the Blizzak WS90 continues to deliver excellent results. Damp surfaces are no problem, and the traction for accelerating is plentiful, just as is the grip for the corners. You’re also getting very short braking distances from a tire that handles pretty well in these conditions. You can push it without worrying about losing control. Finally, the aquaplaning resistance is excellent, making it a very stable tire when driving over water patches.
Snow is an area where the Blizzak WS90 feels most at home, which shouldn’t come as a surprise as a winter tire. The grip and traction levels are among the highest in this category, enabling the tire to perform exceptionally in most conditions. The tire has no issues with snow regardless if it’s packed or unpacked and does pretty good even in deep snow. Surprisingly, the tire can deliver some usable traction over ice, which isn’t something that most of its rivals can do.
One area where the Blizzak WS90 doesn’t do so well is the refinement. Even though winter tires tend to be noisier, this one is a bit more, especially when driving on rougher roads. For around town, it’s fine, and the noise isn’t terrible on the highway. Comfort levels also aren’t the best, but it’s not too terrible. On bad roads, the tire may feel a bit unsettled, and you may notice a bit more vibrations. A positive side is that the tire does very well at softening up blows from large potholes.
- Superb performance in snow conditions
- Usable on ice
- Grip and traction levels in dry and wet conditions are excellent
- Refinement isn’t the best
- No treadwear warranty
#7. Pirelli Sottozero 3
What if you are on a tighter budget but still want a premium winter tire? Then, you have the option to go for the Sottozero 3. It’s a tire that will cover your daily needs without any major issues.
For everyday driving on dry roads, the Sottozero 3 is a tire that will be more than enough for anyone. You’ll get loads of grip and traction, far more than you’d need for driving around town. The tire sticks pretty well to the road, minimizing slip and delivering short braking distances. Pushing is something that the tire can do, but it may not be the best experience. The tire has more than enough performance for it, but the driving dynamics aren’t the best, so it may not satisfy most enthusiasts’ linkings.
If you think the Sottozero 3 is great in dry, wait until you try it in wet conditions. The tire has loads of traction for accelerating in damp situations, meaning that slip is something you won’t experience too often. It’s the same situation in the corners, where the grip levels are excellent, so the car won’t understeer unless you really push it. In addition to that, you have very short braking distances, which is another positive side of the tire. In terms of aquaplaning resistance, the tire does well, but it’s not the best in class.
As far as snow performance is concerned, the Sottozero 3 won’t disappoint. The tire will easily handle any snow conditions while providing a stable and planted feel. You have plenty of grip and traction for daily driving and a bit more if you want to have some fun. It’s also a safe tire, thanks to the short braking distances and the fact that it’s very controllable on the limit. Like the previous model, even in icy conditions, you are looking at a tire that won’t struggle. Yes, it won’t be as good as a studded tire with the studs on, but it’s decently good for this application.
When it comes to refinement, the Sottozero 3 is a tire that does some things good and other things not so good. On the positive side, you have a comfortable tire that will offer a smooth ride. It absorbs bumps and eliminates most of the vibrations with ease. As for noise, it’s a winter tire, so it’s unfair to compare it with the Turanza QuietTrack. With that said, even in the winter segment, there are quieter tires, especially at higher speeds.
- Dry and wet performance is excellent
- Comfort levels are high
- Superb for driving on snow
- The aquaplaning resistance isn’t the best in class
- Noise levels aren’t as low as some of its competitors
#8. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
Enough about refinement and longevity, now let’s talk about performance, and the first tire in this group is the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. It’s a very capable tire, balancing between performance and everyday usability.
On dry roads, the Pilot Sport 4S is a tire with plenty of everything. You’re getting plenty of grip and traction, leaving you with plenty of headroom if you ever want to push it. The tire won’t struggle to claw into the road, minimizing slip and keeping you planted. Braking is something the tire does well, and you won’t have to worry about it as the distances are among the shortest in this class. In terms of handling, Michelin have done a very good job, but the tire feels like it’s set up more for everyday driving. It’s responsive enough as a performance tire, and there’s a decent amount of feedback, but it feels a bit softer for my linking, especially compared with some of its rivals.
The Pilot Sport 4S is an impressive tire, and it shows in the performance it delivers in wet conditions. Accelerating on a damp road is not an issue, and there’s plenty of traction to eliminate slip. It’s the same thing in the corners, and the grip is there to help you avoid understeer. Next up are the braking distances, which are very short, making it a very safe tire. With that said, pushing it in these conditions reveals that it’s good but not the best. One thing the tire does best in class is the aquaplaning resistance, which helps it remain very stable.
Performance aside, the Pilot Sport 4S is not a poor tire in terms of refinement, considering that it’s a performance-oriented model. The noise levels are acceptably low and won’t be overly intrusive, even at higher speeds. Comfort, on the other hand, is something you’ll need to sacrifice a bit for the performance. The ride is a bit stiff, and while it does absorb some of the bumps and vibrations, it doesn’t do as well as a touring tire.
The best part about the Pilot Sport 4S is that you’re getting a warranty, unlike its rivals. Michelin offers the tire with a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is a rare sight in this category.
- Decent comfort levels
- Excellent aquaplaning resistance
- Plenty of performance all around
- Not the most dynamic handling
- Braking distances are slightly behind some of its competitors
#9. Falken Azenis FK510
Performance on a budget isn’t impossible, but you need to be careful what you go for. For the Lexus IS, I believe that the Azenis FK510 is an excellent affordable option without too many sacrifices
If you drive around town with the Azenis FK510, you may not even notice that it’s a mid-range tire. The performance is excellent for those conditions, and you won’t find it struggling to accelerate or go around the corner. A slight disadvantage is the braking distances, which despite being short, feel like just a tad longer. For more aggressive driving, the tire will deliver, but not on the same levels as its premium competitors. Another area where it’s not as good as the expensive tires is the handling. It’s very responsive, which is a good thing, but the feedback is a bit numb, which isn’t so good. Luckily, it’s a tire that’s easy to control, so you won’t be fighting it too much to get it back on track.
Surprisingly, the Azenis FK510 is a tire that excels in wet conditions. There’s tons of grip and traction, which enables the tire to eliminate slip and feel planted in the corners. It handles the same, so you may need to be prepared for a bit of a numb feeling, but even in these conditions, it’s easy to control and correct. The tread pattern does an excellent job at water evacuation, resulting in excellent aquaplaning resistance. As far as braking is concerned, the tire manages to deliver almost premium-like distances, which is a high praise for a mid-range tire.
The Azenis FK510 seems to have a dual personality as far as refinement is concerned. Noise is an area where the tire does pretty well, surprisingly. It can remain relatively quiet around town and on the highway, but you will notice a slight roar over rougher surfaces. Comfort levels, on the other hand, aren’t as impressive. Even though it’s far from the harshest tire I’ve driven, the Pilot Sport 4S does better at smoothing out the road and absorbing bumps.
- Superb wet performance
- Decent noise levels
- Responsive and easy to handle
- Dry braking distances are a bit behind the leaders in its class
- The feedback feels a bit muted
#10. Continental ExtremeContact DWS06
Last but not least is a tire designed for performance throughout the year. Continental’s ExtremeContact DWS06 may not be the best, but it’s an excellent option for what you may ask of it with your IS.
As a performance tire, the ExtremeContact DWS06 isn’t one that will underperform in dry conditions. The tire has plenty of everything, making it an excellent option for daily driving. Considering the high levels of grip and traction, it’s a tire that can be pushed a lot before it starts to let go. You also have short braking distances, which are still excellent even though aren’t the shortest in this class. As far as handling is concerned, Continental aced it. The tire is very responsive and has a nice weight to it, and provides you with plenty of feedback throughout the drive.
Continental makes excellent performing tires for wet conditions, and the ExtremeContact DWS06 is a good example of that. The tire is one of the best all-season performance options for driving on damp roads, thanks to the high levels of grip and traction. On the other hand, the aquaplaning resistance and braking distances aren’t as impressive. Both are very good, but there are a few better performing tires in this category. The handling, like in dry conditions, is excellent, and you can push the tire hard before it starts to struggle.
The ExtremeContact DWS06 is an all-season tire, so some snow performance is available to you. In lighter conditions, when the snow is shallow, you can get a decent amount of traction. It’s a similar story even in packed snow, but if you accelerate a bit harder, the tire will begin to slip. With that said, ice is an area where the tire struggles the most, which is to be expected as it’s not a winter tire.
Refinement is another area where the ExtremeContact DWS06 delivers some good performance. The noise levels are pretty good for a performance tire. Around town and on the highway, it’s acceptable, but you will start to hear it when you drive over rougher roads. Comfort levels are surprisingly high for this kind of tire. Sure, it’s not a touring tire, but it does a decent job at absorbing bumps and minimizing vibrations.
Even though the ExtremeContact DWS06 is technically a performance tire, you’re still getting a warranty. Continental sells the tire with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty which isn’t too bad, considering that it’s not a touring tire.
- Marvelous wet handling
- Superb snow performance
- The aquaplaning resistance isn’t the best
- Braking distances in wet are a bit longer than its rivals