Lexus

New Car Review – 2014 Lexus IS 350

The 2014 Lexus IS 350 has been redesigned and boasts a number of practical improvements over its predecessors.  Industry experts noted before the redesign that Toyota really needed to take the next step and luxury car design with the new Lexus and the initial reviews all seem proper thing.  It is been some time since notable improvements were made to the Lexus IS 350 design and Toyota took advantage by making massive changes.  At a glance, the most noticeable changes the assertive new styling house as well as a larger and more impressive interior.  The question is whether or not the new 2014 Lexus IS 350 will be able to compete in the luxury sedan market.

The 2014 Lexus IS 350 is often described as a compact sport sedan and comes from a brand well-known for ultra-refined luxury and incredibly high reliability ratings.  At the same time, it is consistently doing battle with extremely popular European brand sedans which have gone to great lengths to elevate consumers’ expectations in the entry-level luxury sedan class.  There is no doubt the 2014 model is significantly better than previous offers, but some argue it still lacks some key characteristics to be considered an elite sport sedan.

The Look

The 2014 Lexus IS 350 immediately stands out because of the new sheet metal and stiffer structural elements.  Overall, the design is similar to the larger, more expensive midsize luxury sport sedans.  The larger wheelbase not only creates more room in the cabin, but makes the exterior that much more compelling.  Along with the basic package the 2014 Lexus IS 350 features three option groups – premium package, F sport package, and the navigation package.

The standard equipment includes 17 inch wheels with all-season tires, LED daytime running lights, keyless ignition and entry, eight way power front seats, 60/40 folding rear seats, HID headlamps, and leatherette premium vinyl upholstery.  This year, Lexus also features a new Safety Connect telematics system.  It includes an eight speaker sound system, seven inch color display, voice recognition, satellite radio, and multiple auxiliary audio jacks and USB connections.  The system also provides weather and traffic information free of charge.

The premium package provides a number of upgrades.  They include heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, perforated leather upholstery, driver seat memory, wood trim, auto dimming side mirrors, and rain sensing windshield wipers.

The F sport package is considered by many to be the best option.  It includes a full mesh treatment for the grill and a unique, revised front bumper.  There are also 18 inch wheels, sport tuned suspension, multi adjustable sport seats, sport oriented adaptive instrument cluster, aluminum trim for the petals, door scuff plates, upgraded brake pads, variable ratio steering, and a more aggressive Sport S+  setting for the drive mode selector.

The navigation option can be added to any of the previous packages.  It is more geared towards interior features and functionality rather than defining the vehicle itself.  It adds a remote touch mouse type controller for the entire infotainment suite as well as a navigation system.  It also includes a rear view camera, automatic phonebook download, real-time traffic information, and an upgraded 15 speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

Performance

The 2014 Lexus IS 350 includes a 3.5 liter V-6 engine which generates more than 305 horsepower and nearly 280 pound–feet of torque.  The rear wheel drive models utilize an eight speed automatic transition while the all-wheel-drive models incorporate a six speed automatic transmission.  Both options include steering will paddle shifters to enable manual shifting.  In general, this vehicle tests out above many of the other luxury sport compact sedans in the segment.

Safety

As with most luxury sedans, the 2014 Lexus IS 350 includes a number of standard safety features.  This includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, and a variety of airbag placements.  Airbag placements include front knee, side curtain, front seat side, and dual rear seat side.  This vehicle also includes an optional safety upgrade.  It will add a rear view camera, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning system, and rear cross traffic alerts.  The adaptive cruise control also provides a pre-collision warning system which will automatically initiate the breaking to mitigate crash severity.

Interior Design

When it comes to luxury vehicles, the interior design overall level of comfort must meet a high bar in order to be successful.  The redesigned 2014 Lexus IS 350 definitely provides more than enough luxury as well as remedying major faults in the previous generation.  The additional rear seat legroom is immediately noticeable and the 60/40 split is a convenience which was previously not offered.  The trunk capacity is also larger than average for its class.  The upper dashboard armrests, size of the center console, and steering will are all covered in dense, high quality padding for more comfort.  The front seats are extremely supportive for long drives, yet soft and supple.  The new dashboard and console design is extremely attractive and makes interior feel even more spacious.

Overall

One of the most notable faults of the 2014 Lexus IS 350 is the 3.5 liter V-6 engine is unchanged from the previous model.  The only difference is the addition of an intake sound generator.  While most people will still be satisfied with the straight-line performance, the transmission sometimes will not execute downshift requests in manual mode.  At the same time, the new eight speed automatic transmission overall is effective.  On a high note, many people feel that the well-tuned steering surpasses the BMW 3 series which has long been set the standard for feedback and tactility.  At the same time, the ride quality was definitely a priority in the redesigned to ensure the steady and secure going around sharp turns.  Unfortunately, it isn't considered to be the most fun or athletic luxury sport compact vehicle.

There is no arguing the redesigned 2014 Lexus IS 350 is noticeably better than previous models.  Lexus has been battling for some time to best its European counterparts and the new 2014 model demonstrates significant improvements in nearly all aspects of the vehicle design.

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