Both the 2021 Lexus IS and the 2021 Audi A5 have comfortable, luxurious interiors and offer buyers a choice of engines. Here’s how they compare.
2021 Lexus IS
Above Average: Choice of engines; optional all-wheel drive; very comfortable seats; reputation for reliability; high resale value.
Below Average: No hybrid option; rear seat’s a bit tight.
Consensus: Reliable and well-built, the 2021 Lexus IS is a sharp luxury sport sedan with great driving manners and a comfortable interior. It’s not quite as responsive as some competitors, however, and the rear seat’s not as roomy as it could be.
2021 Audi A5
Above Average: Coupe, convertible, and Sportback body styles; sporty S5 model; all-wheel drive; sophisticated interior.
Below Average: Electric motor only adds 13 hp; small rear seats in coupe and convertible; can get expensive for the top trims.
Consensus: Sleek and sophisticated, the 2021 Audi A5 comes in a range of body styles and with a choice of engines. The Sportback offers great cargo space and seating for five, but the 4-passenger coupe and convertible have expectedly tight rear quarters.
IS vs. A5: Sedan or Not Sedan. That is the Question
A sharp, comfortable compact luxury sport sedan, the 2021 Lexus IS offers three engine choices, either rear- or all-wheel drive, and excellent driving manners. It’s agile, and while the turbocharged 4-cylinder provides plenty of power, the upgrade V6 — available in two different power outputs — makes it a blast to drive, coupled with a suspension that dispatches curves with aplomb.
Inside, the IS is solidly built, with high-quality materials and quality. The seats are among the most comfortable around, and make for hours of trouble-free driving. One knock is the backseat, which is too tight for three, but sufficient for two passengers. Standard features are plenty, with a 2021 update including an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and an optional 10.3-inch widescreen.
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Amazon Alexa all come standard, as well as a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, 8-way passenger seat, keyless access, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The seats are covered in NuLuxe synthetic leather. A suite of safety features called the Lexus Safety System+ includes frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring, among others.
Upgrades include a higher-output tuning for the V6, 17-speaker 1,800-watt Mark Levinson audio system, and the F Sport with different exterior tweaks. Given its reputation for reliability, the IS maintains excellent resale value.
While most Audi models only have one body style, the 2021 A5 offers three: a coupe, convertible, and a 5-door hatchback known as a Sportback. The 2021 model year is a relatively quiet one for the A5, as it was comprehensively refreshed last year, adding a 12-volt mild hybrid system for an additional 13 horsepower.
Engine choices range from two different turbocharged I4s (201 or 261 horsepower) to a 349-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 in the performance-oriented S5. All A5/S5s are all-wheel drive, an Audi specialty, and provide excellent stability and sure-footedness in all weather conditions.
Passenger space is good in the coupe, although backseat room suffers in both it and the convertible. The trunk is class average in the coupe, and the Sportback offers surprising utility thanks to 35 cubic feet of space with all seats folded.
The interior is well made and elegant, with a 10.1-inch touchscreen used for navigation, audio, and data. Standard features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, and tri-zone climate control. The infotainment system has 10 speakers, two USB ports, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility.
Safety features include automatic emergency braking and a system that cinches the seatbelts and shuts the windows if it senses an impending crash. Upper trim levels add such things as the Virtual Cockpit, which is fully configurable instrument display, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, and neck warmers in the convertible.
The top sport S5 trim includes not only the more powerful engine but also a sport suspension and sport seats. A5 resale values are typically strong.
Cargo volume in base models; similar power in upper trim levels; tight rear seats; NHTSA 5-star safety rating.
2021 Lexus IS Advantages
Lower starting price; longer powertrain warranty; base power; sedan body.
2021 Audi A5 Advantages
Choice of body styles; performance S5 model; fuel economy; standard AWD.
Which One is Right for Me?
The 2021 Lexus IS offers fresh styling, a choice of 4-, 6-cylinder power, and rear- or all-wheel wheel drive. It’s comfortable, composed, has a longer powertrain warranty, and offers solid resale value.
The 2021 Audi A5 is for those who want something other than a traditional 4-door sedan. It comes in coupe, convertible, or Sportback body styles and boasts standard all-wheel drive. Audi’s interior and driving dynamics are a cut above.
Ready to buy a Lexus IS or Audi A5? Shop for one on sale now near you.
|2021 Lexus IS||2021 Audi A5|
|Engine||2.0-liter turbo I4||2.0-liter turbo I4 hybrid|
|Horsepower||241 hp @ 5,800 rpm||201 hp @ 4,200 rpm|
|Torque||258 lb-ft @ 1,650 rpm||236 lb-ft @ 1,450 rpm|
|Transmission||8-spd automatic||7-spd automatic|
|Fuel Economy||25 mpg (21 city/31 hwy)||28 mpg (25 city/34 hwy)|
|Also Available||3.5-liter V6; 6-spd automatic; AWD||3.0-liter turbo V6; 8-spd automatic|
|Basic warranty||4 years/50,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||6 years/70,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety Rating||5 stars||5 stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||110.2 inches||108.8 inches|
|Overall Length||185.4 inches||184.9 inches|
|Width||72.4 inches||72.6 inches|
|Height||56.5 inches||53.9 inches|
|Turning Diameter||34.2 feet||37.7 feet|
|Headroom, Front||38.2 inches||37.4 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||36.9 inches||36.1 inches|
|Legroom, Front||44.8 inches||41.3 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||32.2 inches||32.7 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||55.9 inches||55.3 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||53.4 inches||50.7 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||90.2 cu. ft.||84.0 cu. ft.|
|EPA Cargo Volume||10.8 cu. ft.||10.9 cu. ft.|