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2014 Lexus IS: this car has get-up and go

2014 Lexus IS luxury sports sedan
2014 Lexus IS luxury sports sedan
- photo by ALAN GELL

Lexus. Those are the cars that are for older folks that want to slow down. Right? The cars are loaded with luxury features so they are very easy to drive and really comfortable for the occupants. Well, that statement is correct, but the new 2014 Lexus IS makes this car really fun to drive. It can really get up and go.

2014 Lexus IS 350
- photo by ALAN GELL

The Lexus IS is a sports sedan. It is not a sports car for racing, but with minor adjustments, it could be classified as such. I first had my glimpse and experience with this terrific vehicle last summer, 2013. The Lexus folks had invited a number of automtoive journalists down to the Austin area to test-drive this new IS sports sedan at a local race track. The entire day was spent simply driving the IS around the track, subjecting the car to extreme braking, extreme acceleration, sharp curves, and a lot of twisting and turning. It was fun and definitely an eye-opener.

Finally, months later, an IS model was in the media press fleet and I had a 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport for an entire week. It allowed me to put it through 'normal' driving on a day-to-day basis, going to the mall, church, carrying grandchildren, and moving small amounts of cargo. This car has all the Luxury you would expect from a Lexus but it really appeals to those auto enthusiasts who enjoy putting the 'pedal to the metal.'

The Lexus IS is among the 'youngest' of all those new cars in the luxury category that are designed to appeal to younger buyers. It generally is referred to as an 'entry-level-luxury' model sedan. It has attractive styling, a strong, rigid body, and very aggressive good looks. The driving is obviously sporty, but also challenging, responsive, and mostly just fun. Meanwhile, it retains all the luxury you would expect.

My test model IS 350 was an All-Wheel-Drive version with an exterior color call Ultra White. It was powered by a 3.5-liter V-8, 24-valve, dual-overhead-cam engine that spit out 308 horsepower. The other model offered is the IS 250 that comes with a 2.5-liter V-6 that produces 205 horsepower. It was matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission with, of course, paddle shifters. Drive mode selections were shown as Normal, Sport, Snow, and ECO. During my week-long drive, I kept the sedan mostly in the ECO mode.

The IS 350 came equipped with a powered moon-roof, auto dimming rear view mirror, heated front seats, 10-way adjustable driver seat, full-color multi-informational display screen, HD radio with real-time weather & traffic, automatic collision notification, and a lot more. Added on for additional costs was the Blind Spot Monitor ($600), F-Sport Package ($3180), powered rear sun shade ($210), radar cruise control with pre-collision system ($500), navigation with upgraded Mark Levinson audio, backup camera, voice command technology, & more ($3225.) The F-Sport package added a different front bumper and a spindle grille, 18-inch split 5-spoke wheels, a different instrument cluster, silver performance trim, and adaptive variable suspension.

The base MSRP for the Lexus IS 350 was $41,700 but with all those extras added along with the destination charges, the bottom sticker price topped out at $50,310. EPA rating was shown as 26 mpg highway and 21 mpg average. For my week-long driving experience, I averaged 24.5 mpg overall, but that is probably because I didn't try to race it too often.

The Lexus IS is definitely a good looking car. There is a lot of luxury and premium technology and that makes it very interesting as well as aggressive in driving. When you are behind the wheel, it is easy to push the pedal down and go a little faster than you had anticipated. I believe Lexus has a best-seller with this one.