New for 2014
Lexus has redesigned the IS sedan for the 2014 model year, but keeps the IS C and IS F on the last-generation platform.
The Lexus IS sport sedan is the automaker’s entry in the competitive luxury sedan segment that has long been defined by the BMW 3 Series. The IS lineup, which includes three sedan trims and a convertible, fit above the hybrid CT 200h and, in price, just slightly below the ES in Lexus’s offerings.
The Lexus IS line includes three sedans and a convertible model. The base transmission is a six-speed automatic, but for 2014 the eight-speed automatic from the IS F is now included on the rear-drive IS 350. All-wheel drive continues to be an option for the IS 250 and IS 350 sedans, but is not offered on the convertible or IS F. The standard 2.5-liter V-6 makes 204 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, while the larger 3.5-liter V-6 makes 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2.5-liter V-6 is 20-21/27-30 mpg city/highway, with slightly lower numbers on the AWD models, and for the 3.5-liter V-6 is 19/26-28, with the same penalty for AWD.
The redesigned IS 250 and IS 350 feature three driving modes: ECO, NORMAL, and SPORT; the IS 350 F Sport offers two more: Sport S and Sport S+; AWD models offer a SNOW mode.
When you select Sport mode, you get a different shift schedule for quicker acceleration. When you select Sport+ for the IS 350 F Sport, you get the different shift schedule plus quicker response from the electric-assist power steering and firmer suspension damping.
Compared to the outgoing sedan, the 2014 IS benefits from wheelbase changes (almost three inches longer and half an inch wider) that result in more leg room and more cargo capacity in the redesigned sedans. The F Sport package now includes a TFT instrument cluster inspired from the LFA, the limited-run Lexus supercar, and unique 18-inch wheels. A more rigid body has enabled handling improvements as well as folding rear seatbacks. A notable first is the subscription-free traffic and weather information with the HD Radio service on all audio systems.
The IS F performance sedan remains largely the same for the 2014 model year, but receives interior updates. Power is still delivered to the rear wheels by a 416-hp 5.0-liter V-8 and an eight-speed automatic. EPA-estimated mileage is 16/23 mpg.
The 2014 Lexus IS 250/IS 350 received five-star overall safety ratings from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), and received two rating of good in IIHS testing (the highest possible rating is good). The IS F and IS convertible models have not been tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA.
What We Think
We got to spend some time in a 2014 Lexus IS F Sport on Driveway Austin Motorsports’ racetrack:
It tells us exactly where the limit is, how hard to turn the wheel, and why we don’t need to lift before flicking the car to the right at a previously intimidating bend. It’s as if we had stopped expecting a rumbling in German and instead heard a murmur in Japanese.
The large signature Lexus spindle grille, one of the best examples so far, and is refreshingly fully-functional, supplying air to inboard brake ducts. The front end is complemented by separate LED daytime running lights, and an optional twin-projector LED headlights. Using the well-placed paddle-shifters on the steering wheel results in crisp upshifts and engine blips on downshifts, makes the lack of a manual transmission hardly noticeable.
The 2014 Lexus IS 350 F Sport wants to speak to you of speed, yet it also wants to retain the refinement that sets apart the cars this company has always made.
If you want refinement in a sport sedan, we’re confident that the conventional trim levels of the 2014 Lexus IS will deliver just as always . . . Meanwhile the F Sport represents a more mature approach to speed from Lexus, one that’s more civilized than the Lexus IS F.
- Eight-speed automatic now available on the IS 350
- F Sport handling
- Last chance to get an IS F
You Won’t Like
- Less power than competition,/li>
- Last year of the second-gen IS F
- No eight-speed and AWD
- BMW 3 Series
- Infiniti G37/Q60
- Mercedes Benz C-Class
- Audi A4