Several high end manufacturers offer convertibles as an entry level to their luxury or premium lines and Lexus is no exception – with two vehicles being offered. Lexus for 2014 offers two convertibles (rear-wheel drive) in their popular IS trim line. They are the IS 250 C and the IS 350 C four-passenger hard-top convertibles which are, in reality, mostly the same vehicle – with different power plants.
The IS 250 C is powered by a 2.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 204 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of peak torque while getting 30 mpg on the highway. The IS 350 C has a bigger power plant – the 3.5-liter V6 producing 306 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque being slightly less fuel efficient at 27 mpg. Both models come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The MSRP for the 2014 Lexus IS 250 C is $42,860 with the IS 350 C at an MSRP of $47,140.
Both are available in an F Sport version which, along with some aerodynamic ground effects body features, sport-tuned suspension, F SPORT 18-inch wheels with dark superchrome finish; upper and lower grille insert; F SPORT steering wheel and F SPORT heated and ventilated front seats; front lip spoiler; aluminum sport pedals; silver metallic interior trim; aluminum scuff plates, and F SPORT badging give the IS C series convertibles a sportier look.
We recently were able to drive a 2014 Lexus IS 350 C for a week around the urban and rural areas of Central Texas. With the weather cooperating, we had lots of opportunity to drive top up and top down. The aluminum retractable top on the IS C is the same as the one developed for the Lexus SC 430 and operates smoothly and quickly with one touch of the button located just to the left of the steering wheel. We were impressed with how tight this top was to the body when fully up – essentially converting the IS C into feeling like a coupe both in look and in ambience with absence of noise.
With the top down, the aerodynamic design of the body, pretty well eliminated any wind buffeting in the cabin and dies not need any additional windscreen apparatus as found in some competing vehicles. Lexus has also engineered several comfort and convenience feature adjustments into the IS C that engage when the top is down. They include climate control settings, airflow and a sound system which loses base response and adjusts sound equalization until the top is closed – reverting back to “coupe’ settings.
One shortcoming – in what is otherwise a pretty nice convertible - is that the retractable hard top pretty much fills the trunk when the top is down. The cargo capacity goes from nearly 11 cubic feet (top up) to about 2.5 cubic feet (top down) – space that is wide a relatively flat making it not very usable for some items.
Other concerns were the small size of the rear window that is partially blocked by the rear seat head rest units (even when adjusted) hindering a clear view through the rear view mirror. Also, the legroom in the back seat is just 29.5-inches which limits the size of persons who can ride comfortably in the back.
Even noting the above, the 2014 Lexus IS 350 C is still a great convertible coming standard with all of the expected premium materials and luxury functional and/or convenience features that make it a Lexus. Optional items that were added to this IS 350 C including the following:
- Luxury Package ($3,055) that included Bi-Xenon High Intensity Headlamps with LED Day Time Running Lights, Perforated Semi-Aniline Leather Seats, Heated and Cooler Front Seats, Wood Interior Trims, Driver and Passenger Memory Position, Illuminated Scuff plates, Rain Sensing Wipers and a feature we really liked, the One-Touch Front Seat Fold and Slide Activation for easy entry to the back seats.
- Mark Levinson Premium Audio and Navigation System ($3,520) which features a 12-speaker Surround Sound System with 5.1 Channel Architecture, Single In-Dash DVD/CD Player, DVD-audio and Video, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Navigation Systems and Back-up Camera. Also included in this package is the Lexus Enform with Destination Assist and eDestination and Enform App Suite along with SiriusXM Satellite Radio with NAV/Traffic and NAV/Weather.
- Also included were the Intuitive Parking Assist Package ($500) with front and rear sensors providing clearance detail alerts through the multi-information display in the instrument panel plus a Cargo Net ($64) and a Trunk Mat ($105).
With delivery - our 2013 Lexus IS 350 C priced at $55,140.
Competitors (all similar sized) to the IS 350 C include the BMW 435 I hardtop convertible which has an MSRP around $55,000 with a 300 horsepower RWD I-6 engine and 8-speed automatic getting 30 mpg highway; Infinity Q60 hardtop convertible ($49,000) with 325 horsepower RWD V6 engine and 7-speed automatic getting 25 mpg and the Audi A5 soft top convertible ($48,000) with a 220 horsepower I-4 engine, AWD and 8-speed automatic getting 29 mpg.
There are several choices for a convertible in this segment. We think the 2014 Lexus IS 350 C (or even a IS 250 C) certainly needs to be on any short list for purchase.