2014 Lexus IS Rocks New Style, Outshines Competition

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Laziness shouldn’t be rewarded.  It seems obvious that over the past decade or so, automotive journalists who enjoy driving have long favored Bavarian offerings over competitors hailing from The Land of the Rising Sun.  Sure, when journalists evaluate cars, they “expect” the car to convey a certain “feel” as they are driven, in addition to how comfortable they’re being kept.  As Japanese automakers like Lexus have worked their tails off to create cars that are as engaging to drive as they are comfortable and reliable, everyone else has simply maintained whatever status-quo might have been established years ago.  Hard work, however, should be rewarded.  While more mainstream entry-level luxury sedans take a progressive, yet cautious approach to capturing the hearts and minds of enthusiast consumers, the new IS not only mocks convention, it shatters it.

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The all-new 2014 IS is the culmination of everything that Lexus has learned to do very well.  Not only is it an exceptionally comfortable and quiet car when you want it to be, it’s immensely fun to drive, well-balanced, and makes any ordinary jaunt more special.  How then, do you manufacture a feeling?  Lexus designers have spent the last several years studying exactly that.  The Japanese have created a word - Waku-Doki – to describe the feeling of anticipation and subsequent adrenaline rush one gets as they are about to do some exciting.  That’s exactly how we felt climbing into the LFA-inspired cockpit of the new IS.  The feeling builds as the vehicle is set into motion, and it’s something that you wouldn’t typically expect from a Lexus.  But then again, this car came from the same company that brought us the LFA, the IS-F, and the new GS.  Whether you choose a standard IS 250 or IS 350, or either of them in F Sport trim, prepare to be amazed.

Exterior

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Overall, the new IS is very similar in size to the outgoing model, and although it has been stretched ever so slightly, you’ll hardly notice it’s bigger at all.  There are several highlights to the exterior of the vehicle just about everywhere you look, but since it’s what everyone notices first, let’s start up front.  The fascia of the Lexus IS is downright aggressive, and in F Sport trim, it’s menacing.  Front and center is Lexus’ signature Spindle Grill, in what might be it’s most pronounced form.  F Sport models’ front fascia also incorporates cooling ducts to supply ventilation to the front brakes for improved performance.  Just like GS F Sport, IS F Sport models do not come available with front fog lights (something unique to North American F Sport models).  Although the grille is massive, you might not see it before you see the glorious L-shaped LED daytime running lights (DRLs) that appear to be cut right into the bumper just below the headlamp assemblies.

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The side profile of the vehicle reveals a low-slung look, with a high shoulder line and a pronounced side-skirt that swoops upward where the character line sculpts the bottom of the taillight housings.  The doors themselves have a clean look shared with other Lexus vehicles.  A stylish set of  new 17″ wheels are standard, while a couple different styles of 18″ wheels are available.  F Sport models receive their own LFA-inspired 18″ wheels and “F” badging.

Wheels

Around back, the IS features wrapped tear-drop shaped taillights with L-shaped LED arrays, an integrated rear decklid spoiler, and dual exhaust.  Reflectors are nicely integrated into the rear bumper and look like they were thoughtfully placed, not just “stuck” there as an afterthought.

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Powertrain

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The 2014 Lexus IS and IS F Sport models basically utilize the same V-6 engines from the second-generation model and come in the same familiar 2.5-liter or 3.5-liter variations marked by model designation (IS 250/Is 350, respectively). The IS 250′s 2.5-liter V-6 makes a respectable 204 hp vs. the IS 350′s 3.5-liter, which makes an incredible 306 hp.  Both the IS 250 and IS 350 are available with AWD (in fact, the majority of the models we’ll see in the Midwest will in fact come equipped with AWD) and come standard with a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters.  An 8-speed auto with paddles is also available, but you can only get it on a RWD IS 350 F Sport.  This intelligently-designed transmission is exactly like the one featured in the IS-F, but it’s been revised to incorporate automatic downshifting as you brake and it will hold gears around corners.  Pretty incredible, and yes, we’re still talking about a Lexus.

Interior

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Under no circumstances do we expect that anyone will buy this car simply to look at it in their garage or driveway.  While we wouldn’t put it past anyone to actually do that because the car is just that beautiful and exotic looking, the real party is inside the car, and how well the car drives.  As soon as you slide into the deeply-bolstered driver’s seat and grip the thick-set leather-wrapped steering wheel, you know you’re inside something special.  F Sport models featuring the LFA-inspired gauge cluster take the driving experience to a whole new level.  There’s nothing like it on any other car, except the LFA.

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There’s plenty of room in the new IS, and it’s very comfortable.  Rear seat passengers often complained about the lack of ample rear leg room for adults, but with the wheelbase being stretched for 2014, there’s now more than enough leg room.  Overall, the use of materials, as well as fit and finish, couldn’t be any more well-executed.  The contrast stitching throughout the cabin give the IS a custom, hand-crafted look only Lexus-trained takumi could create.  Also an IS-first, 60/40 split folding rear seats are now standard on all IS models.

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Technology-wise, the IS has more than its fair share.  This year marks the first time the IS will come available with standard Lexus Display Audio, featuring a generously-sized LCD screen.  With that system, drivers will be able to obtain subscription-free visual traffic and weather information over-the-air (OTA) via HD Radio, in the first system of it’s kind to ever be installed into a production car.  Navigation-equipped vehicles can also make use of OTA HD Radio Traffic and Weather data in conjunction with data sourced through the Lexus Enform app suite utilizing the driver’s smartphone connection.  Mark Levinson audio is also optional, and all IS models feature electro-static touch dual-zone automatic climate control.

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The 2014 Lexus IS has indeed arrived in showrooms, and we invite you to come test drive one for yourself at Mungenast Lexus of St. Louis.

Check out our video review, and high-resolution gallery below.

Source: Lexus USA

 

     

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