2014 Lexus IS250, 2014 Infiniti Q50 Struggle In Consumer Reports Test

#Lexus, #Q50

2014 is a crucial year for luxury brands Lexus and Infiniti. Both Infiniti and Lexus have completely redesigned offerings in the sport sedan segment, with the 2014 Lexus IS and the 2014 Infiniti Q50, but Consumer Reports today released a scathing report on both luxury sport sedans. Neither the 2014 Lexus IS250 nor the 2014 Infiniti Q50 earned CR’s “Recommended” rating, whereas competitors like the BMW 328i, Mercedes-Benz C250, Lincoln MKZ, and Volvo S60 T5 all received higher scores in CR testing.

The 2014 Lexus IS250, equipped with the base 2.5-liter V-6 and optional all-wheel-drive, earned only a “Good” rating with what was “the worst road test score by any Lexus sedan in recent memory,” according to CR. Testers criticized the Lexus engine as underpowered and lacking fuel economy, while also griping about the IS’s confining interior, uncommunicative steering, and unrefined ride. The overall conclusion was that the IS was “neither sporty nor luxurious.”

Lexus told us in an emailed statement, "As one of several third-party sources for vehicle evaluations, we have a great amount of respect for Consumer Reports and take its review very seriously. Lexus is currently assessing the CR review for the all-new 2014 IS 250 AWD.  As the Consumer Reports evaluation includes many factors, Lexus is unclear on the cause for the low rating. We look forward to engaging in a discussion with them to get more direct feedback on their experience with the car."

We praised the 2014 Lexus IS in March for its interior which far surpasses the old one, enjoying the supportive bucket seats, driving position, and cleanly designed layout. Technological amenities seemed plentiful, and the climate control system was attractive and intuitive. However, we did note that the cabin felt tight particularly when getting out of the car.

The 2014 Infiniti Q50, which replaces the outgoing G37, fared only slightly better than the Lexus IS250 according to CR’s test, receiving a “Very Good” rating that also falls short of the coveted “Recommended” rating. Alarmingly, despite an array of major updates, CR laments that the Q50 “has taken a step back from its excellent predecessor.” CR concluded that the Q50’s overall driving experience seems to have lost the sporty appeal of the G37 due to “mundane” handling and lack of steering feel.

Like Lexus, Infiniti is also taking the review seriously. “We’re looking at the findings and considering future upgrades,” said Kyle Bazemore, senior manager of Infiniti U.S. Communications.

Our impressions from July underscore some of CR’s conclusions. Despite a slew of driver-selectable steering systems, overall the 2014 Infiniti Q50 felt artificial enough to make the powerful 328-hp V-6 feel distant and disconnected. While Infiniti has surely made major innovations with its advanced driver-assistance systems, its steer-by-wire technology still needs a bit more touch and refinement.

Is this a death sentence for the 2014 Infiniti Q50 and 2014 Lexus IS250? Not necessarily, but both Lexus and Infiniti would do well to address the complaints raised by the highly influential Consumer Reports.

Kenneth Herbert
Both responses (especially Lexus's) impressed me. Rather than shoot the messenger, they took the criticisms seriously and addressed their need to meet the standards, rather than criticize the standard-makers. It's nice to read refreshingly candid responses.  

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