The Lexus IS 350 is all-new for 2014 and although the engines carryover from the previous generation, improvements to its exterior looks combined with an upgraded, more refined interior make the car an altogether better luxury sedan.
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP / Lb-Ft|
|2014 Lexus IS 350||$41,700||$50,165||99/125|
|EPA Rating MPG||As Tested MPG|
|Rating: BUY IT!||19/26/21||22.3|
Lexus is now becoming instantly recognizable thanks to that spindle grill which has been added to the IS in very aggressive fashion. It fits the car, as this isn’t just a sedan, but a sporty one, best suited to those looking for a more spacious sports car. It is exceptionally low to the ground up front, possibly an issue for those in snowier climes, but in terms of style, the IS has the perfect sports car stance.
Inside, things have improved both in materials and design. There’s a sense of luxury with soft surfaces for your elbows giving everything a plush feel. There are still plastic surfaces, but they are of high quality so they don’t look cheap, with one notable exception.
The steering wheel controls felt and looked very plastic. They were the one anomaly in an otherwise luxurious interior and felt like they belonged in a much cheaper car. They even sounded hollow when you tapped them with your finger, which being buttons, you’ll do often. You won’t find a cheap surface like this in competing cars like the Audi A4 or BMW 3-Series.
The center console is very wide and low, helping to create a cockpit like feel but without becoming confined. Controls are are well-placed, and the capacitive controls for the heating and cooling worked without a hitch. The option to slide the temperature up or down or simply tap to move it one degree at at time is a small but very nice detail.
Speaking of cooling, there are heated and ventilated front seats and as it’s summertime, we tested the ventilated seats. Although they did nicely cool our posteriors, the sound was loud, having one confused passenger trying to figure out why she kept hearing a fan. Seating is supportive yet supremely comfortable. The way the IS 350 drives, there needs to be good bolstering and there is, yet without becoming hard or stiff when you’re taking it easy and trying to relax.
Although you can most definitely relax and enjoy the ride in the Lexus IS 350, it 3.5-liter V6 with 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque begs for you to have some fun. There are four drive modes of Eco, Snow, Normal, and Sport and in Sport mode, this car forgets it’s still a sedan.
It shoots forward into highway traffic making merging a breeze with no worries about someone overtaking you as you try to get up to speed as you’ll likely be up to highway speeds well before leaving the entrance ramp. Changing those drive modes makes a slight but noticeable change to the car’s driving dynamics. It’s most noticeable in how high the rpms will go in Sport mode as they’ll very nearly redline. In Sport mode, set loose on the highway, it comes incredibly close to its German competitors
The sporty IS 350 in its AWD configuration comes only with a 6-speed automatic, but if you’re willing to forgo traction you might want in the winter, you can opt for the RWD model and you’ll get an 8-speed transmission that’s likely to up the sport factor nicely. The IS 250 with it’s smaller 2.5-liter V6 is relegated to only the 6-speed transmission.
The IS 350 is, at its heart, a luxury sports car with a slight bend toward the world of sedans. The drive is powerful and controlled and will get your hear racing. It even sounds good, just like a sports car should, and its low wide body makes it feel like speed inside and out. It is incredibly comfortable, living up to the luxury image of the Lexus brand and is more affordable at $50,165 than many of its European rivals.
They might not need to worry about the Lexus IS just yet, but if this redesign is any indication, American brands like Cadillac, and even the Germans, should be getting a little nervous about what Lexus is bringing to the table.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give the 2014 Lexus IS 350 a Buy It!
Watch this 2014 Lexus IS 350 vs IS 250 vs F sport AWD Mashup Drag Race.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole is a member of the New England Motor Press Association and also writes for Automotive IT News, NerdApproved, and GeekMom. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+