HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 LEXUS IS 250 REVIEW


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Lexus IS


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE LEXUS IS 250 VEHICLE The entry-level Lexus IS 250 luxury sedan infuses sportiness, refinement and cutting edge technology to the point of artificial intelligence for the third-generation 2014 model, while continuing to remain an attractive everyday mode of travel where price and practicality are concerned. The new F SPORT edition, a popular package that does much justice to other models in the lineup like the Lexus LS 460, gives it further edge for its segment.

At a one-day media event, I spent time behind the wheel of a 2014 Lexus IS 250 with the 2.5-liter V6 delivering 204 horsepower to the rear wheels and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include: HID headlamps; Drive Mode Select; paddle shifters; dual zone climate control system; next-generation Remote Touch Interface; Display Audio; and a 4.2 inch multi-information display. Lexus is wise to add this equates to $1,400 in previously optional equipment. On sale this summer, pricing starts at $35,950.

Lexus has worked hard to present the IS 250 and 350 as smaller-sized sedans big on character, connectivity and excitement – and is confident enough to pit the models against competitors like the Audi A4 2.0T and the Mercedes-Benz C350 so media could perform side-by-side drives on the spot.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The IS now features a higher beltline and heighten fenders, with the F SPORT package’s sportier grille serving the aggressive redesign much better. Although the IS can seat five, only four will sit comfortably in this smaller sedan. A first for the entry-level segment is touch-sensitive electrostatic temperature switches for the climate control – just sweep down with a finger (much like using an iPhone). Add radio cache to never miss a minute of a live game during a call, a predictive traffic feature, and accidence avoidance safety technology, and you’re virtually living in your own timeline as well as controlling your own destiny inside the Lexus IS.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2014 Lexus IS 250 and 350 are due out this summer and have not yet been tested by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety equipment includes: ten airbags, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system; Anti-Lock Brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control.

Cost Issues: Ranging from a base price of $35,950 for the IS 250 and $41,700 for the IS 350 with all-wheel drive, optional packages average from $1,050 for the Premium Package (LED headlamps, heated and ventilated front seats) to $3,115 for the F SPORT (a snazzier full-mesh grille and eighteen-inch wheels, more aggressively tuned suspension). Realistically, expect a $5-10k in additional costs for desirable technology. Also, keep in mind the IS now combined more features for added value.

Activity & Performance Ability: Since Lexus staged the IS against several competitors at the event, I was able get behind the wheel of the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C350. The IS 250 clearly displayed increased rigidity at the tightest of turns on the track next to the Audi A4 2.0T, thanks to various new body bonding techniques. The steering angle has been dropped three degrees for a more connected feel. And when decked out in the F SPORT package, the IS offers an entirely different experience with race-inspired equipment such as the center-mounted tachometer with moving bezel, sport seats, a sport-tuned suspension and Adaptive Variable Suspension with a Sport S+ drive mode.

The Green Concern: My IS 250 test-drive featured ECO, Sport and Normal drive modes, with ECO controlling the throttle more to conserve fuel. All-wheel drive receives an additional Snow mode. EPA-estimated fuel economy is not yet out for the 2014 Lexus IS 250, but it is expected to maintain the same averages at 21 miles-per-gallon city and 30 highway.

FINAL PARTING WORDS Consumers with a taste for something sportier will enjoy what the 2014 Lexus IS 250 has to offer when it comes to performance, technology, luxury and overall value for a small sedan – and even more so with the F SPORT Package.

2013 Katrina Ramser

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