Why the 2014 Lexus IS Matters:
The 2014 Lexus IS has finally joined the rest of the Lexus family in receiving its own interpretation of the brand’s new styling language. The Lexus IS also rides on a revise platform that is intended to make the car more engaging to drive, as well as compete harder against its German rivals in the premium segment. A lot of buyers enter the Lexus fold through the IS compact sedan, which means that the 2014 model needs to make an impression in order to stand tall from a sales perspective. Lexus has also chosen to introduce a hybrid version of the compact IS, although it seems unlikely that this particular model will reach American shores.
- Larger platform
- Dramatic styling update
- Hybrid model
New 2014 Lexus IS: Styling and Design
If you’ve seen the front end of almost any recent Lexus, then you already have a fairly good idea of what the 2014 Lexus IS looks like. The Lexus trapezoid was prominent on both the F Sport and Hybrid models that were rolled out onto the stage in Detroit, and the vehicle’s broad front fascia dominates the look of the automobile. Both Audi and Infiniti also feature similar, but distinctive takes on this wide-grin look, yet Lexus managers to stand out from the pack with the sheer ostentatiousness of the cue on such a small vehicle. The rest of the car comes across as cleaner, and more pleasing to the eye than the 2013 IS. Few details were provided about the interior of the sedan, but we were told that rear passengers will benefit from increased leg room thanks to its longer design.
New 2014 Lexus IS: What’s Under the Hood
There are no stunning changes to report in the drivetrain department of the 2014 Lexus IS. Base IS 250 shoppers still benefit from a 2.5-liter V-6 engine that develops 204 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and the IS 350 features a familiar 3.5-liter V-6 that has been tuned to provide 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of twist. Lexus isn’t going for the gut of the sporty luxury sedan market with these drivetrains, but they are robust enough to compare well against offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Eight-speed automatic transmissions are standard – with no option of a manual – on all rear-wheel drive models, while adding available all-wheel drive to the IS 350 introduces a six-speed auto.
The 2013 Lexus IS Hybrid is a model aimed squarely at the European market, where it promises to deliver ultra-low emissions and satisfy eco-conscious buyers. No clues were provided regarding the IS Hybrid’s mechanical details beyond its emissions targets, but it does mark the first time that the small sedan has been offered with battery assistance. An American on-sale date for the Lexus IS Hybrid was not offered by brand spokespeople.
New 2014 Lexus IS: Features and Technology
Much of the presentation of the 2013 Lexus IS focused on its performance capabilities, not just in terms of its sports sedan handling and braking, but also its ability to deliver a refined ride. The IS was apparently flogged on test circuits around the world during the development of its suspension system and other chassis details, and surprisingly Lexus will be offering the aggressive F Sport trim on not just the IS 350 but also the IS 250 and the IS Hybrid. Whether F Sport models will each feature the same tuned shocks, springs, and brakes is unknown, but the sharp styling that comes with the F Sport designation will make even the Hybrid model look the business while it quietly turns in respectble fuel mileage.
New 2014 Lexus IS: What Autobytel Thinks
The 2014 Lexus IS is in some ways an interesting contradiction. From a styling perspective, the sedan certainly doesn’t play it safe, gambling that current owners will gravitate to the new, spindly front end look and somewhat muscular lines of the redesigned car. Under its skin, however, the IS far more cautious, especially with respect to its drivetrain options. The opportunity to target BMW with a high horsepower IS 350 has come and gone with the 2014 model’s introduction, which means that Lexus is content to continuing building a very good luxury sedan that most likely won’t challenge class leaders when it comes to dynamics or driver engagement.