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#1

in Upscale Midsize Cars

MSRP: $36,100 - $63,600
Invoice: $33,573 - $59,148
MPG: 21 City / 30 Hwy
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Lexus IS Performance

The redesigned 2014 Lexus IS sedan earns reviewer praise for its refined ride and handling. Still, some test drivers report that the IS isn't the most agile sport sedan in the segment. Reviewers say the IS 250 has sufficient power, but say the IS 350 delivers more authoritative acceleration.

  • "It's true that the IS 350 isn't quite a dynamic match for segment leaders like the BMW 335i in a high-performance, race track setting. But for most shoppers, track driving won't matter. To that end, the IS combines refinement that's close to the Mercedes C-Class with drivability that's close to the BMW 3-Series." -- AutoTrader
  • "The 2014 Lexus IS engages the driver with poise, sharp steering, a precise throttle, and a smooth-shifting transmission that always seems to pick the right gear and hold it as long as necessary for optimum acceleration." -- Forbes
  • "On curvy roads the new IS is much improved over the outgoing model, with surprisingly great feel from its electronic steering; on the track though, some of the old IS enthusiastic turn-in has been lost." -- MSN Autos

Acceleration and Power

The Lexus IS 250 sedan and convertible are powered by a 2.5-liter V6 engine that produces 204 horsepower, while IS 350 models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 306 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission comes with all IS 250 and IS 350 models except the rear-wheel drive IS 350, which gets an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2014 IS 250 sedan gets an EPA-estimated 21/30 mpg city/highway, which is a bit low for the class. The high-performance Lexus IS-F sedan is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque. It comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and Lexus says the IS-F will accelerate to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 170 mph.

Reviewers report that the IS 250 has adequate power for day-to-day driving and that the IS 350 delivers much more spirited acceleration. One test driver notes that models with the F Sport package have a more noticeable engine note, thanks to a sound induction tube that pipes engine noise into the cabin. Critics say that the six-speed automatic is smooth and refined, but some prefer the IS 350’s eight-speed automatic, which they think makes better use of the engine’s power and also performs rev-matching on downshifts.

See full 2014 Lexus IS specs »

  • "The six-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic are smooth and quiet, but the recent increase and success of equally potent turbocharged four-cylinder engines in other sedans has made the aging Lexus engine seem weak and inefficient in comparison." -- Edmunds
  • "In terms of power, the carryover 2.5-liter and 3.5-liter V6 engines offer plenty of thrust for passing and merging." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Step on the go pedal and you'll notice that the F-Sport's engine sound is more pronounced thanks to an intake resonator that pipes induction sound into the cabin at certain engine speeds." -- CNET (IS 350)
  • "Burying the accelerator pedal gives you a nice, satisfying blast of acceleration that will put you at extralegal speeds in no time." -- Jalopnik (IS 350)
  • "When paired with AWD the IS 350 uses a six-speed automatic, but we prefer the eight-speed unit in the IS 350 RWD as it lends to better power delivery. The eight-speed - which is taken straight out of the IS-F - also boasts a rev-match feature." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

The Lexus IS sedan comes standard with rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is optional. The IS convertible and high-performance IS-F are rear-wheel drive only. An available F Sport package on the sedan adds a sport-tuned suspension, and adjustable steering is also available with the F Sport package, which allows the driver to dial in varying amounts of steering response. Test drivers report that the redesigned IS delivers a comfortable ride and remains fairly flat through fast corners. Some reviewers note that it doesn't handle quite as well as competitors like the BMW 3-Series and Cadillac ATS, but expect few drivers to mind. Reviewers also add that the steering is well-weighted and gives the driver good road feedback. Others say that the brakes deliver underwhelming performance.

  • "For all the available chassis settings, at sane speeds, one might just as well set it to Normal and forget it. In doing so, the IS proved to be a quite satisfying dual-purpose machine, as capable of fading into the background and letting you explore satellite radio as beating its chest and exploring its limits." -- Car and Driver
  • "It is a bit more nose-heavy than key competitors such as the BMW 3 Series and Cadillac ATS, which causes it to understeer when really pushed into tight turns. But most people will never come close to driving the IS hard enough to even notice." -- Forbes
  • "Being a Lexus, the ride quality errs on the side of comfort, but it's still sporting enough to transmit a good amount of road feel through the car. The thoroughly revised double wishbone front/multilink rear suspension makes for a competent ride during fast driving and a comfortable one during relaxed cruising, just like a good sport sedan should have." -- Jalopnik
  • "We came away impressed with the IS' high-speed cornering ability, especially compared to the last-gen car, which tended to wallow when pushed. Steering is also much improved in the 2014 IS, delivering a good blend of road feel and weight." -- Left Lane News
  • "Add in underwhelming handling and braking performance, and there's no denying that the IS 250 falls short of what its sporty styling promises." -- Edmunds
Review Last Updated: 5/14/14

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