2014 Lexus IS Review and Track Test

2014 theshares almost nothing with the outgoingis 250 and is 350 pretty much the onlything that they share are the enginesand certain drivetrain relatedcomponents let’s walk around the vehicleshow you what’s changed let’s hop insideand let’s take it for a quick drivearound the track the 2014 is shares nobody panels and no structure with the2013 iOS this is a completely differentplatform it’s quite a bit longer thanthe outgoing eius it’s about 3 incheslonger on the outside with about an inchand a half longer wheelbase but thebiggest change is right here at frontwhere we have this enormous spindlegrille that’s been put on the new issince we’re driving it is f sport modelhere we also have these large brakecooling ducts right here up front and wedon’t get fog lights for the US marketfog lights are a European and Japanesemarket option only now the F Sport modelhas a more dynamic and bolder frontgrille as a sort of a swoopy I don’tknow egg crate kind of thing going onhere if you opt for the regular Lexusmodel we still get this large spindlegrille but the the style of the grilleis a bit more

demure a bit moreluxurious rather than sporty like thismodel is if you opt for the radar cruisecontrol this Lexus logo stays the samebut has a cruise control module behindit that way you don’t have some funkyyou know plastic block somewhere in yourgrille that looks a little bit strangenow about these headlamps as I said thedivorced the the daytime running lampsitself meaning that it’s down here inthe bumpers you can see on this side aswell now because we’re in apre-production model heredon’t take a look at these headlampsbecause these headlamps are actually theHID headlamps and they’re on an is Fsport but all production is F sportswe’ll get the LED headlamps and they’reeasily identifiable because they’re twomodules that are visible in the headlampmodule rather than just that one innerhid projector now as

I said the is sedanhas definitely grown and most of thatgrowth happens back here with a slightlylarger rear door and of course you getmore rear legroom in the is as well for2014 we have this upward swoop and sortof a different side style and sideprofile on this vehicle now is f Sportmodels get unique wheels as you can seehere and if you opt for it is F Sport350 then

you can also get the dynamicsuspension as well as variable gearratio steering Lexus is a veryconservative car cutso even though things are completelydifferent back here than last year theyare extraordinarily familiar to anybodywho has a 2013 is here’s a goodcomparison shot so right over there wehave an is 350f sport which has the FSport front grille and over here we havean is 250 without the F Sport packagewhich has the regular grill so you cansee has the typical horizontal slats andsort of an egg crate bottom here but itdoesn’t have that that wavy front thatthe F Sport grill has the one area wherethings haven’t changed for 2014 is righthere under the hood because you’ll findthe same two engine options as the 2013is model things start out with this base2.5 liter 204 horsepower directinjection

v6 engine and you can opt forthe is 350 which uses a 3.5 liter 306horsepower direct injection v6 enginenow they’ve made it to either arear-wheel drive or an all-wheel drivetransmission in the is 250 you get a sixspeed rear-wheel drive transmission or asix speed all Pele drive transmissionthey’re not exactly the same unit as thegear ratios are slightly different inthe all-wheel-drive model in the is 350you get a all new 8-speed automatictransmission it’s the same unit that’sshared

with the ISF sedan or you get thesix speed on the drive transmission ifyou should opt for all-wheel drive frontseat comfort in the is was very good formy body shape although these front seatsdon’t offer the same range ofadjustability as some of the competitorsmost notably BMW in the driver’s seat wedo get a nice two-way power lumbarsupport although it’s not adjustable forheight and the passenger seat does notget an adjustable lumbar support in anyis model new and interesting for 2014 isthat all is models start with the newLux upholstery and in certain modelsit’s the only upholstery that you canget now it does make a reasonableimitation of leather and honestly itwould be hard to tell the difference ifthey weren’t available side-by-side soif you’re two dealers lot and you’refeeling the seats you can tell thedifference between new luxe and leatherbut it’s a lot more difficult than youwould thinknew luxe definitely doesn’t

feel likevinyl all models of is come with a tilttelescoping steering wheel that has adecent range of motion there is anelectric tilt telescoping steering wheelit’s also available it has an evenlarger range of motion than thisparticular manual wheel now Lexus hasn’ttold us which options and which packageswill include the electric tilttelescoping steering wheel and we don’tknow exactly how much this is will costyet as you can see the interior of the2014 isstyled to match the newer additions tothe Lexus lineup we have this dual leveldashboard up here they call this thedisplay zone they call this the controlzone all you really need to know is thisis where the nav system is this is wherethe buttons are over here we have aglove box it is kind of a smallish glovebox if I’m honest as you can see youcan’t fit tootoo large of an item in there our iPad 3did not fit in this glove box up here wehave a 7-inch navigation screen that isa decent amount smaller than a number ofthe competition it’s about the same sizethat Volvo uses in the s60 but that is adecent amount smaller than the iDrivesystem in the BMW 3-series down here wehave a combination of physical buttonsand touch buttons so lexus has gone fortouch

buttons on the climate controltemperature section here and regularbuttons for pretty much everything elsecontinuing down the dashboard we haveheated seats in this particular modelcooled seats are of course available aswell we have our usual shifter we havethe sport mode selector in ourparticular model we only have eco normaland sport that’s because we’re in an is250 bed an is 350 we’d also get SportPlus which does a few things with thesuspension as well as the tractioncontrol over here we have the samecontroller for the nav system thatyou’ve seen in other Lexus models beforeand we’ll go over that in a little bit Iwill say however that I find thisparticular control unit an awful lotmore distracting than the touchscreenthat Lexus has used in the past that’ssomething that

I seem to have beenunable to get over even though I’ve usedthis for several years now since they’veintroduced it now I just find that thiscontroller requires an awful lot morehand-eye brain coordination than justquickly glancing down at the screen andthen stabbing the option that you wantwe of course get an all-new Lexussteering wheel this is very similar tothe steering wheel that’s used in theLexus GS has a very nice feel to it withshifter paddles in all is models thisyear has all new menu buttons on thefront of the steering wheel and thetypical Lexus cruise control stock interms of materials quality the is scoresvery well our particular

model has thissort of faux metallic trim but of coursesince this is a Lexus based models docome with wood now I would rate thisinterior definitely up there with theMercedes c-class and the BMW 3-seriesthere are certain things I like betterthe 3-series and there are certainthings I like better in this vehiclethis vehicle does have somenice our plastics lower down here in the- where your knees hit the – as you cansee these are sort of a stitchedpleather effect and the BMW 3-series hassomewhat hard plastics honestly lower inthe dashboard than it does upper in thedashboard you won’t find any stitchdashboards in the Lexus is at the momentalthough you know who knows that couldcome in a refresh regular is models getthe usual – dial instrument cluster butis F Sport models and that’s either theis 250 F sport or the is 350 F Sport getthis configurable

LCD instrument clusterit’s an 8 inch instrument cluster so yousee it’s an 8 inch LCD but they do putplastic over the corners as you can seehere now they call this the LFA inspiredcluster because this dial moves acrossas you can see this is actually aphysical dial that’s over the LCD itselfand it moves back and forth and theimage changes with it now over on theLeft we do have configurable informationoptions including infotainment optionstrip computer settings etc and if wemove it back and forth you can see thatwe get a temperature gauge and we getthe fuel gauge over there now there’salways on this particular instrumentcluster there’s always a digitalspeedometer so that’s digital miles perhours you can see there with thetachometer now if we move it to sport orSport+ mode depending on the model thatyou’re in you can see the dial turnswhite there and the numbers changeslightly so we can change back and forthso you can see there of course also aneco mode in this car normal mode you cansee is just the same as eco mode now wealso get some sort of tachometerghosting so if the tachometer spins upto 5,000 rpm and then the car shifts itwill leave a ghost line in blue as itdrops back down the is got considerablybigger for

2014 and the reason is backhere in the rear seat now even thoughthis door frame is a little bitrestrictive and I did whack my head onthat when I got in the vehicle Headroomin the back seats are pretty good forthe outboard seats I’m 6 feet tall in myhead still has about an inch and a halfof headroom left and this car does havethe sunroof in it now this front seat isadjusted for me at 6 feet tall and Istill have a few inches of legroom leftback here that’s a considerableimprovement over the is that wasintroduced in 2006 where you’d have tobe legless in the rear in order toactually get in with me driving the carnow this middle seat however is prettytypical for a rear-wheel drive smallluxury vehicle I can’tget back here without cocking my head toone side and there is a pretty massivehump in the middle

we do get some niceair vents however we also get a fairlynicely upholstered rear armrest withintegral cupholders as well but the bigchance for 2014 back here are these rearfolding seat backs which allow of courseyou to put larger items in the vehiclenow they are not flat with the cargoarea so you can see the trunk is severalinches lower than this rear seat backbut they do fold which is a nice featurein this segment it’s not something thatmany of the competitors do out here inthe trunk you can see that things havegrown slightly for 2014 this is thelargest carry-on bag that you can fit ona domestic flight and as you can see youcan fit several of them here in thetrunk now underneath this hatch righthere we get a doughnut spare tire in theis not a full-size spare tire but atleast we have one rather than a can offix-a-flat this brings us of course toour exclusive trunk comfort index wherethe is score is fairly well the trunk isfinished fairly nicely and it’s fairlyroomyalthough these truck hinges do sort ofimpact my foot and Headroom but we dohave a nice handle to close

the trunkoverall the is score is 8 out of 10 inour exclusive truck comfort index we’reout here on the track in the is becauseof course Lexus claims that the is isgoing to be used for track duty by somepeople and I’m sure that some peoplemight track there is just like somepeople might track their BMW 3-series oftheir Mercedes c-class but that’s notnecessarily where most shoppers arecoming from however it seems to beimportant in this particular categorythat vehicles have a decent track credand that’s definitely true here with theis just like it is with the BMW 3-seriesthe is definitely feels more precise abit more communicative on the road

thenthe BMW 3-series does in its currentgeneration it feels a lot better on thetrack than the Mercedes c-class and ofcourse alexis did not provide an audi a4or s4 for us to test here on the trackbut based on my previous experienceexpect the is to definitely out handleania an a4 or an s4 especially on atwisty track like this because the s4 inthe a4 are just two front heavy comparedto the is now that being said the is isnot the ideal handlernecessarily it is still a little bitlight and they were especially comparedto that BMW 3-series the 3-series thatspecially the 335 has a great deal morepower specifically more torque than thisis 350 does and it’s very noticeable onthe straightaways on this track where itdefinitely takes off an awful lot fasterthan this vehicle it also lights up itsroute wheels a lot more easily againthanks to that increased torque comingup here to a closed set of turns ofcourse I’m not a professional trackdriver mind you although I had a littlebit of limited instruction if you wantto know how this is on our track youshould probably email our own tameracing driver Jack and ask him what hefeels about this when he gets his handson it again the is this is the is 350 Fsport that we’re behind

the wheel atthis moment right now and that’s mostlya suspension and handling package inthis vehicle it is available in allwheel drive or rear-wheel drive and thisis the rear wheel drive version whichmeans we get that 8-speed automatic nowwell the BMW is definitely faster onthis track if you were to put the hammerdown it doesn’t feel quite as confidentas this is and as a result might get mytrap speed in this straightaway here isactually faster in the ISF sport than itis in the 335 which surprised mealthough

the feel is a little bit moreconfident in the 335 despite its lowerspeed again this is just personalpreference I’m sure you could get the335 around that straightaway just asfast as the is but my personal feelingsabout comfort zone and and how what thevehicle is doing at any particularmoment I just feel a bit more confidentin the is at speed through thosesections it’s really just under brakingwhere the is just lets me down a littlebit and I prefer the 335 againand we’ve hit 108 miles an hour therebecause you can see when we hit thebrakes again that rear-end does get alittle bit squirrely on us and thatreally doesn’t happen in the Mercedesc-class or the BMW 3-seriesnow while we’re talking about thec-class they did provide us with AC 30 C350 to test out here on the track andhonestly

the Mercedes is just not thesame kind of vehicle as this is it’s agreat deal softer the transmission is alot slower shifting it’s it’s kind oflike driving you know an American landyacht around the road just doesn’t havethat same button-down feel that the BMWand the is have I would be interested toknow how Infiniti is new q50 handlesaround this track and if my experiencefrom the existing g37 would help me anyin that the g37 would feel somewhatsimilar to this view that has thatdefinite button-down feel to it it hasthat same naturally aspirated engine sothe power delivery is going to be fairlysimilar to this vehicle and has a7-speed automatic

so terms of automaticperformance it’s not going to be thatdifferentnow the BMW 335 is probably one of themore direct competitors to the is 350 insome ways even more so than the Mercedesc350 the first thing you’ll know aboutthis 3-series on the track is how muchmore powerful this is than the is 350now it does feel a bit heavier howeverout on the track but the torquedelivered from this engine is justabsolutely epic we aren’t going anyfaster around this track than I did inthe is 350

but it does feel a bit moreplanted especially in the rear andthat’s thanks to a slightly betterweight balancenow once you’re in motion the 335 sengine is definitely more responsivethanks to those turbos because thetorque curve is just very broad in thisparticular engine but the 335 does havea slightly softer suspension and becauseit’s not active like the is 350 s isthis car does lean a great deal more incorners it’s a little bit more Wally alittle bit softer but that translatesinto a slightly better ride out on theroad than the is 350 especially when theis 350 s in its Sport Plus mode we had alot of time to spend

with the is 350 outon the track and not quite so much timewith the is 250 one thing however withthe is 250 is readily apparent it’s muchsmoother than the four-cylindercompetition so if you’re looking atsomething like an ATS 2.0 T or a BMW328i the IS 250 is definitely smootherand definitely quieter in terms ofengine noise out on the road the resultsof my track experience were somewhatmixed I really honestly preferred theway the BMW 335 performed out on thetrack versus the is F Sport 350 but outon the road it’s kind of a differentstory because you know not people aren’treally driving nine tenths on the trackand some of those accelerationparameters don’t matter quite so much Ido find that the is makes a compellingargument in this segment but some ofthat really depends on how long you planto keep your vehicle because of coursethe Lexus tends to be much more reliablein the is typically has been topped here

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