I recently went for a test drive in the new IS and didn't mind it but it made me appreciate my model a lot more. So thought I'd write a few tips for anyone wanting to buy one 2nd hand.
First of all the 2nd gen IS is a lot better made than the current one with thicker leather seats and more soft plastics throughout the cabin. The 2.5 litre v6 4gr-fse sounds great (a lot better than modern turbo 4cyl) it does however need a lot of revs on board to get moving but once there you make good progression (0 to 100 in 8 seconds, not the fastest but not too slow considering the new turbo is 7 secs. The handling is typical rwd with good balance and little body roll although I want more steering feel. When I bought this car in late 2005 it was a real head turner and I think the styling hasn't dated much since.
I have heard reports of the engine being thirsty but not in my experience I average 6 on the highway and 8.5 in the suburbs (Adelaide). Besides brakes, tyres and consumables, I haven't had anything go wrong mechanically in 280,000 km! I did however have the dashboard removed under warranty to have rattly clips changed. The headroom isn't so good either with the sunroof and ditto to the back seat but if u don't have kids or regular people at the back, no problem.
Here are some of the niggles I've come across and concerns I've heard from others and how I addressed them-
1. Lexus service costs- don't bother going to them they are way too expensive, either go to Toyota as they use the same fluids or purchase the oil and filter etc yourself and get a good mobile mechanic to do it ( no problems yet here) use genuine fluids from Toyota parts, especially the brake fluid must be dot 3 only!
2. There have been a few recalls so ring up Lexus and get those done for free
3. At around 90,000 km the engine starts using more oil on these cars about a few litres per 10000 km on mine. I solved this issue by only using full synthetic oil and doing a carbon clean (can cost $15 and you spray it into the intake and vacuum hose). This engine doesn't have the port injectors of the is350 to wash off deposits with fuel. It also doesn't hurt to put a bottle of injector cleaner in the fuel tank each service.
4. Many people say you should change the Toyota ws transmission fluid and it's not to last the life of the vehicle as specified in the manual. I had mine checked last service and it's slightly dark red ( not the colour of fresh fluid but also not bad for one that is 10 years old and over 200k) trans still shifts smoothly so I recommend not changing it unless you tow or encounter severe conditions. Also don't change it once the fluid is over 150k as a mate did, as it will dislodge particles and ruin the transmission.
5. Get regular 4 wheel alignments every 10k otherwise you will get uneven wear especially on the back tyres, mine have lasted over 60k doing this.
6. There have been reports of cams needing replacing due to rattling on start up, I did hear a similar noise for a while but a new battery solved it (the starter motor was struggling with a low charged battery).
7. The transmission learns your driving behaviour and can get annoying shifting too early affecting acceleration. Simply disconnect the battery for an hour and it will reset to factory specs, and don't drive like a nanna!
Besides not having a sat Nav screen (can still plug in iPod) I don't feel like I'm driving a 10yo car and I'd highly recommend one if you are looking for luxury reliable motoring.