2014 Lexus IS 350
Other Under-The-Skin Updates
You may have noticed the 2014 Lexus IS looks rather similar to the outgoing model. Sure, there's some new sheet metal, and the interior is (mostly) a massive step forward in design, but ultimately, this is more a heavily revamped version of the current IS than an all-new model.
New welds are placed in several strategic locations to increase chassis rigidity, including the door sills and roof line.
Extra chassis bracing is also placed around the unibody, a new adhesive has used to join sections of the body with greater rigidity, "laser screw welding" is used more extensively (the tech first debuted on last year's IS), and more high-tensile steel used in key locations further increases rigidity while also shaving 22 pounds from the body's weight.
But Should You Buy It?
A much-improved version of an already good luxury sport sedan, the 2014 IS is no longer a half-step behind the Germans in any respect. It's just dancing to a different beat.
That's ultimately the deciding factor between the IS, the Cadillac ATS, the BMW 3-Series, and Mercedes-Benz C Class. All four models come at the market from slightly different viewpoints. In its latest incarnation, the Lexus IS takes a trajectory that might be more interesting to a wider range of enthusiast drivers, at least in 350 F Sport rear-wheel drive form.
While a bit more limiting and a bit less communicative at the limit, the 2014 Lexus IS does a great job of delivering on comfort, fun, and, perhaps especially, style.
Unlike the slightly frumpy design of the latest 3-Series, the perhaps just a bit too blinged-out look of the C Class, or the smooth/sharp Art & Science style of the ATS, the Lexus IS' blend of aerodynamic curves and muscular, sculpted bulges seems not only more organic, but perhaps a bit more artful.
That is, if you can get past that big, gaping maw of a "spindle grille" up front. That one's a love it or hate it feature, particularly in all-black-mesh F Sport guise.
After a full day with the 2014 Lexus IS, we walked away with the sense that it doesn't do any one thing better than every other car in the segment--but it does all of the things those other cars do quitewell, without having a standout aspect that rubs some people the wrong way.
It might just be the Goldilocks luxury sedan: not too hot, not too cool. Just about right.
...If you can accept that spindle grille.
2014 Lexus IS 350 F SportEnlarge Photo
Lexus provided airfare, food, and lodging to enable us to bring you this first drive test.Music in the 2014 Lexus IS First Drive video by: Fantasy Pretzel (Bitbasic) / CC BY-SA 3.0