2014 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350
Performance inspired sedans for third generation
Lexus is generally thought of in terms of producing luxury level vehicles, ranging from entry to premium status. The pioneer of the Lexus sports performance set came in 2001 in the form of the Lexus IS F, which cranked out a healthy 400 horses from a V8 engine delivered to the rear wheels. It was the first Lexus to offer the F Sport option package, to compete with Audi?s S Line, BMW?s M Sport and the AMG models of Mercedes-Benz. Now entering its third generation, the 2014 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 borrows some of its spirit and inspiration from the recent LFA Supercar ? an extremely limited edition, race-ready creation, consisting mostly of carbon fiber construction.
The LFA draws power from a 4.8-liter DOHC, 40-valve, rocker arm type, naturally aspirated 72 degree V10 engine with electronic fuel injection that delivers 552 horsepower along with 354 pound feet of torque. The engine sits upfront in a mid-mount position connected to a Rear-mounted six-speed Automated Sequential Gearbox (ASG) with a driver?s choice of seven gearshift speeds, metering motive force to the rear wheels. The cost? $375,000 before tax and license ? clearly out of the financial grasp of grass roots enthusiasts.
The 2014 Lexus IS stable will consist of two basic vehicles: The IS 250 and the IS 350 ? both V6s, which will come standard in a rear wheel drive configuration, but with each available with All-Wheel Drive. Both drive setups for the IS 250 and the IS 350 AWD will gear motive energy through a 6-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) featuring steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The IS 350 will come with an 8-speed ECT-I automatic.
Base prices will range from $35,950 (IS 250 RWD) to $41,700 (IS350 AWD). Add $895 for Destination and Handling. There will be Premium, Luxury and F SPORT packages available across the model range. The Premium Package) includes LED headlamps and heated and ventilated front seats ($1,050 for RWD models). The Luxury Package includes Premium Package features and adds a perforated leather-trimmed interior, linear wood trim, electrochromic exterior mirrors with reverse tilt, rain-sensing wipers, driver seat memory, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, center stack knee pads and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. A revised F SPORT Package offers a unique full-mesh grille in Black chrome, and front bumper, LED headlamps, 18? split 5-spoke wheels, highly supportive front sport seats, and a more aggressive sport-tuned suspension. Inside, all F SPORT models display a center-mounted tachometer with moving bezel adopted directly from the LFA. The F-Sport Package is priced at $3,115 for IS 250 RWD and $3,620 for IS 350 RWD. The IS 350 F SPORT adds standard Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with a Sport and S+ drive mode. The F SPORT package is also available for IS AWD models for the first time.
Other available optional equipment includes: a Navigation System, a Navigation System with Mark Levinson sound system, a Backup Monitor, a power rear sunshade, an 18-inch wheel package with either All-season or Summer tires., Variable Gear Ratio Steering and intuitive Park Assist.
Visually, the 2014 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 models showcase a sleeker and much more aggressive exterior look, with a seemingly lower stance. Its blacked out ?B? pillar and bright surround trim gives the aerodynamic sedan a coupe-like persona. The wheelbase has been stretched nearly three inches, with the width increased by almost a half inch. The LFA inspired nose displays a more dramatic evolution of Lexus? signature ?Spindle? grille featuring a more three- dimensional design with a chrome-plated frame and darker gray insert both top and bottom. The F SPORT adds a bolder mesh-type grille for an even more dynamic look, along with other subtle performance styling cues.
Inside, the driver-oriented cockpit design also draws its inspiration from the Lexus LFA supercar. The dashboard is divided into two separate zones -? a display zone and an operation zone, providing drivers a more comfortable and ergonomically ideal interaction with the vehicle?s control systems. The longer wheelbase and a special front-seat design increases rear seat legroom by 1.6 inches, and the rear features standard 60:40 split-folding seats. There are soft touch finishes throughout, including padding on the center console sides, highlighted by a Silver metallic trim analog clock with surface-emitting illumination.
The Lexus team formulated a unique opportunity for auto scribes to test the entire lineup of 2014 Lexus IS models ? IS 250 RWD, AWD and F SPORT, as well as the IS 350 in all three versions. The test was staged at Alameda Point, CA, site of the former Alameda Naval Air Station with two separate autocross courses set up ? the first, a tight, challenging course for the purpose of comparing competitors, which included an Audi 2.0T, a BMW 335i and a Mercedes-Benz C-350. The second autocross, a timed venue, pitted journalists against each other for the best elapsed time exclusively in Lexus IS models.
SUMMARY: The most dramatic design expression is exhibited by the IS F SPORT models; though the regular IS versions are very attractive and sporty in appearance.
Power delivery is what one would expect from each of the V6 engines, with the 3.5-liter obviously exuding a higher output, with a more pleasing sound. The 2.5-liter is totally adequate however, and both the 6 and 8 speed automatics metered energy seamlessly. In terms of handling characteristics, I preferred the IS 350 RWD for its heightened feeling of agility. The F SPORT models in their base form, except for those with the available Adaptive Variable Suspension, actually performed no better than non F SPORT models, since they are mechanically identical. There are also other available enhancements to add to the raw performance potential. There is no manual gearbox available, with the reasoning given that today?s automatic transmissions are capable of delivering a higher level of performance than virtually any mere mortal.
The ride quality is firm and stable, but is not at all harsh. The interior ambience seemed well above average, especially considering the pricing structure of the entire stable. The seats of the IS models were, by far the most comfortable and supportive of the competitive set when compared back-to-back, with the F SPORT seats providing the best support during spirited maneuvers.
In the final analysis, even though the 2014 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 are categorized as entry-level luxury sedans, they might just be considered to be a cut above that ranking. The entire IS lineup delivers good looks, sumptuous interior comfort along with a high degree of satisfying, sporty performance. It may not outperform BMW?s 3-Series on the track in terms of overall handling prowess, but it can definitely hold its own. It is sure to attract younger, upscale tuner types.
Add the comprehensive warranty program which consists of: a 48 month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles, a? 72 months/70,000 miles powertrain and restraint system coverage along with? 72 months of corrosion perforation protection coverage, regardless of mileage, and the 2014 Lexus IS stable makes for a sound choice in a sporty, luxury sedan.
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[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2014 Lexus IS 250 & 350 [/wptabtitle]
|Base Price:||$35,950. – IS 250 RWD / $39,465 – IS 350 RWD|
|Price as Tested:||$36,845. – IS 250 RWD / $40.360 IS 350 RWD|
|Engine Type and Size:||IS 250 2.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V6 with dual continuously VVT-I and Stoichiometric direct injection. IS 350 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V6 with dual continuously VVT-I and Stoichiometric direct injection and secondary port injectors.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||204 @ 6,400 rpm – IS 250 / 306 @ 6,400 rpm IS 350|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||185 @ 4,800 rpm – IS 250 / 277 @ 4,800 rpm IS 350|
|Transmission:||Six-speed automatic on all but 3.5-liter V6 which. comes with an 8-speed automatic. Both feature steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.|
|Drive Train:||Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear or AWD|
|Suspension:||Front – Double wishbones with high-mount upper arms, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multilink, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar.
|Brakes:||Power-assisted Four-wheel, power-assisted disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System and Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control – all systems integrated with Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management system. IS 250 vented front – Solid rear / IS 350 ventilated front and rear.|
|Tires:||Bridgestone Turanza 225/40YR18 Fr 255/35YR18 Rr (RWD summer / AWD all-season) mounted on specific alloy wheels –|
|Length Overall:||183.7 inches|
|Height:||56.3 inches – unloaded|
|Curb Weight:||3,461 lbs. IS 250 RWD 3,649 AWD / 3,593 IS 350|
|Fuel Capacity:||17.4 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||21-mpg city 30 -mpg highway IS 250 RWD 20/27 RWD / 19-mpg city / 28-mpg Hwy IS 350 RWD / 19/26 AWD.|
|Drag Coefficient:||0.28 RWD / 0.29 AWD|
|0 – 60 mph:||7.7 seconds IS 250 RWD / 8.3 AWD 5.6 IS 350 RWD / 5.7 AWD|