The Lexus IS has been lingering in the shadows against some of the big names like Audi, BMW, & Mercedes-Benz for years. While they continue to be prodigious sedans they have simply become too mundane; every Business Executive and iPhone geeks now owns one. I say, it’s time to break the chains of ordinary with the all new redesigned Lexus IS. This 2014 Lexus IS350 came glistening in a divine Deep Sea Mica Blue making it one of the best looking small size luxury sedan on the market – in this reviewers opinion. Entirely redesigned for 2014 the IS receives a major transformation that leaves its rivals clinching with envy and after being stuck in a rut for the last eight years it’s easy to see why. It now shows off a leaner meaner edgier body with Lexus’ new signature spindle front grille and swooshing LED daytime running lamps. These new sexy curves are enough to make your girlfriend or wife rethink that Pilates membership.
The muscular enhanced front fascia lures you in with LED headlamps, chiseled aggressive hood and sport designed side skirts. Where most designers give up on the rear, Lexus did not, continuing the aggressive style with body wrapping LED tail lights, and when the sun goes down, those LED’s are sure to leave an everlasting final impression. Where there is beauty, there is a beast… in this case 3.5 liter V6 monster! Carried over from the previous generation the 3.5 liter produces 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque that is delivered to the rear wheels. The IS uses a fantastic 8-speed automatic transmission that can be manually operated through the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Driving this IS350 is dangerously addicting fun; it takes 5.6 seconds to reach 60 mph with a top speed electronically limited to 143 mph. Equipped with 3-different driver settings Eco-Normal-Sport, each one designed to manage power distribution. Eco, decreases power and throttle response; Eco mode is ideal in traffic but didn’t find better fuel efficiency using it. While under Sport; the steering stiffens, throttle response increases and gear shift ratios become more rapid. Whether in Sport or in Normal handling is precise and responsive in corners, over steering may occur if pushed hard enough but on city streets it’s unlikely.
One of the best things I found about the IS350 was the smooth suspension. Cruising around town the double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension absorb bumps and uneven surfaces. Pushing this IS into the corners maintain balance with minimum body roll and when the going got tough, the large front 13.1” and 12.2” rear anti-lock disc brakes were not to be understated. The sound of this V6 has an intense growl at 4,000 rpms. However, all that power does come with a price – fuel efficiency is not so great averaging 18 mpg city, 28 highway while producing a combined average of 19.6 mpg giving a 350 mile fuel range. At least it doesn’t take a chunk out of your wallet; the 17.4 gallon fuel tank takes Premium Fuel only at a cost of just under $50 if fueling from empty. It’s of no surprise when purchasing a luxury sedan that you’ll get the first class treatment. Cross over the stainless steel threshold into your first class cabin and indulge in a new modern sleek interior design. Take comfort in your ventilated & heated perforated Parchment leather seats and sleek touch panel dual-zone climate control. Engage the push button ignition and allow the memory seat and leather wrap steering wheel glide you into your upright and comfortable position. Take notice to the redesigned black leather dashboard with painted silver trim and genuine dark brown wood accents with Parchment leather door panels and white pin stitching.
Our Lexus came nicely equipped with a phenomenal $3,225 optional Navigation System with Mark Levinson Premium Audio system. Using a console mounted remote interface, navigating the system was simplistic and quick to learn. Included in the Navigation package came Lexus Enform with App Suite & Destination Assist; with the App Suite you can rock out to your favorite Pandora Stations, check into nearby places through Facebook, search through Yelp, find out sports scores or even check your stock portfolio. Also included is basic detailed information like live weather and traffic updates. Utilizing the steering wheel mounted voice command, entering a destination was remarkable, the Nav understood commands and was able to enter destinations on the move without being distracted. Normally, I don’t get too involved with safety equipment and features as most cars have all the same acronyms and airbags that are required. However, our Lexus came with a $4,115 Luxury & Technology Package that included Blind Spot Monitoring, Back-Up Camera w/ rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and Lane Departure Alert. Other items in the Luxury & Technology Package include LED Headlamps with Intelligent High-Beams, Rain-sensing Wipers, Auto-Dimming exterior mirrors, leather trimmed surfaces with memory driver seat, power adjustable steering wheel, & genuine wood trim.
The interior seats 5 but in reality only fits 4 adults. Once both driver and front passenger are comfortably acquainted, rear passengers are left with an acceptable amount of leg room. The standard sunroof doesn’t pose headroom issues for anybody under 6’ for both front and rear passengers. The front seats are the best seats in the cabin as they are very comfortable and well supportive while wrapping your body for a snug fit. Trunk capacity is above average with 13.8 cubic feet and the split 60/40 folding seats add addition cargo capacity. There is always going to be something about a car that we don’t like and this Lexus IS has a few flaws worth mentioning. While the center console was mounted high for comfort the cup holders were awkwardly placed putting the driver in a bizarre position to grab their drink while passengers would lose a place to put their arm. Also, the sun visor wasn’t extendable for sun blockage. And, although this really isn’t a flaw I was disappointed to find that the IS did not come with power folding side mirrors. These flaws are not going to make or break this Lexus. No, as soon you start the engine, hear that V6 grumble and catch yourself driving in the reflection of a downtown high-rise… you can’t help but smile and feel good about what you’re driving.