Lexus Revamps the IS for 2014

by Chris Crowley on March 28, 2013

2014 Lexus ISWhat words come to mind when you think of Lexus? Well built, comfortable, durable, conservative … maybe even bland? Since its debut in 1989, Lexus has built a solid reputation for luxury and long-lasting quality. However, by executives’ own admissions, the brand has fallen short in the exhilaration department, never able to truly differentiate itself from Toyota, its parent company. Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda is attempting to change all that, and the bold new Lexus IS stands as proof.

Since Akio Toyoda took over leadership of Toyota Motor Corporation in 2009, he has emphasized the importance of building cars that are “fun to drive.” With that mantra in mind, many of the 2014 Lexus IS’s new features are geared toward enhancing its performance. The 2014 Lexus IS provides improved stability and body control, thanks to its more rigid frame, sportier suspension, and more refined steering. The 2014 IS will be available in two models, the IS 250 and the IS 350. The IS 250 is powered by a 204 hp, 2.5L V-6 engine, while the IS 350 achieves a robust 306 hp from its 3.5L V-6 engine. The IS 350 includes the eight-speed transmission also found in the IS F performance sedan. Both models are available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and for the first time, all versions will be eligible for the “F Sport” performance upgrade package.

The new Lexus IS displays the trademark “spindle grille” that is making its way across the Lexus range of vehicles in slightly varying forms. This particular rendition is bordered in chrome, with horizontal vent treatments on the standard trim levels and a striking, 3-D mesh appearance adorning the F Sport versions. It adds to an aggressive look that’s helping sculpt Lexus’ new “fun” identity.

Inside, the “driver-focused cockpit” borrows its ergonomic efficiency and comfort from the now-defunct Lexus LFA supercar. The interior provides more headroom, legroom and storage space than ever before, including nearly two inches of additional legroom in the backseat, thanks to a longer wheelbase. The high-resolution Lexus Display Audio multimedia system is standard, and offers real-time traffic and weather without a subscription.

When it arrives this summer, the Lexus IS will look to steal market share from entry-level versions of the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3-Series. Will its new emphasis on performance vault Lexus into the same category with the German luxury giants? Fifty years ago, few would have thought Toyota would one day own the title of world’s No. 1 automaker. I’m not saying Lexus will take over the world of luxury cars, but history will tell you it’s not wise to bet against them.

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