Lexus vehicles have always been known for their build quality. ride and comfort. So it’s understandable that Kelly Blue Book named it the Most Trusted Luxury Brand for the second consecutive year.
In their Brand Image Award, the ES, RX crossover, LX570 and IS sedan received the highest consumer confidence ratings. And it shows in the 2014 IS350 AWD sedan tested.
For 2014, the IS350 was redesigned to include slightly longer wheelbase, stiffer underpinnings, a new and sexy double-spindle grille and gorgeous interior that has been compared to a modern art gallery.
IS's posh, semi-supportive and comfy perforated leather seats fore and aft compliment a dash and console that could pass for that in a Gulfstream jet. HVAC controls are easy to use however the Remote Touch Control mouse used for audio and nav (optional) functions that are displayed on a 7-inch LCD dash display, cannot be safely used while driving. Thankfully, it has voice control that can (wisely) be used in its place. There’s also an automatic high-beam selector that automatically turns the beams off/on but the feature can be turned off, which I did because it became annoying.
Especially nice is that the sides of the console are covered in thickly padded leather for those (like me) who rest their knee against it while driving.
There’s another console-mounted mouse for transmission shift settings of Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow modes. The latter comes into play when stuck in snow or on ice when extra traction is needed.
The back seat now has 1.6 inches for more legroom. Once inside, leg and headroom is ample, however, because of the sloping roofline, you may have to tilt your head a bit so as to not bump it during ingress/egress.
Trunk capacity is rated at 13.8 cubic feet that translates more meaningfully into two large roll-a-longs or one golf bag. Flip the 60/40 seatbacks and capacity virtually doubles. On earlier models, the seatbacks didn’t fold.
Performance wise, the carryover 3.5-liter, 306-hp V6 that generates 277 lb/ft of torque, transfers this power through a 6-speed automatic transmission complete with paddle shifters. Opt for the FWD model and it comes with an 8-speed auto.
So equipped, acceleration is quick with no want for power, no matter if it’s from a standing stop or merging into freeway traffic. As such, the IS350 carries EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 26-highway mpg that is about on par with others in this class of luxury sporty sedans and is a tad better with FWD as the AWD system is full-time that is needed here in the Snowbelt.
The IS’s ride is typical Lexus smooth and quiet but not sporty as its image portrays. Handling is soft and it too is not sporty. There’s only a smidgen of body lean in sharp turns taken at speed but the sedan remains planted in the process.
With only three extra cost options of the All Weather Package ($360) that includes headlamp washers windshield deicer, heated steering wheel and enhanced interior heater, Backup Camera ($350 - worth every cent), and Luxury/Technology package ($3,675) that runs the gamut from LED headlamps with Intelligent High-Beam, to Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic alert and Lane Departure warning and more, plus an additional $500 for Intuitive Parking Assist. Those, plus delivery, upped the base price of $41,700 to $47,480. Essentially in the same ballpark pricing of its main competition from BMW’s 3-Series, Audi’s A4 and Infiniti’s Q50 sedans.
Of this trio, the IS 350 rides better than the 3-Series and A4, but is comparable to the Q50. Yet Lexus stands out with proven reliability and fewest customers’ complaints.
To check out an IS350, that also comes in a more sporty F Sport package, stop by Lexus of Lehigh Valley in Cetronia.