Lexus IS a graceful sport
PINEHURST, N.C. — When it comes to buying a new car these days, there seem to be two types: low-end and high-end. The middle of the market and the brands that once served it — Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Mercury — have vanished. To fill the void, many top-shelf nameplates offer small premium models, and they've become a red-hot part of the market.
This is the niche that the 2014 Lexus IS 250 and 350 serve. It's the smallest rear-wheel-drive car in the Lexus lineup, a slot it's filled since its introduction in 2001.
For 2014, the IS wears the styling that has trickled down from LS, GS and ES sedans and, as a result, possesses a visual presence it's never had. Like its siblings, it has a gracefully sporty look, forgoing the generic look that has long plagued Lexus models.
The front end wears the most dynamic rendition of Lexus' new spindle grille — artfully sculptural, with an aggressive, three-dimensional playfulness that demands your attention.
Lighting has much to do with this little lover's new look. Up front, LEDs are housed in a boomerang-shaped opening, which is mirrored out back by the daggerlike points of rear tail lamps.
While the IS is no longer a stylistic wallflower, its newfound aggressiveness doesn't fully extend to its performance. Lexus has axed the high-performance IS-F model, as well as the IS convertible.
For now, the IS is offered solely as a sedan with one of two engines, both of which carry over from last year. The IS 250 has a 204-horsepower 2.5-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic transmission while the IS 350 receives a 306-horsepower V-6 mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. A manual transmission is not offered and — as is usual for a Toyota or Lexus model — neither is a hybrid.
That said, the new IS is a notable improvement over its predecessor, especially when it came to handling.
The old IS feels like an unruly child when pushed to perform and takes much more effort to control.
In contrast, the new IS seems more responsive and sure-footed when put through its paces. Carving through a corner, it's much easier to control the back end through judicious use of the throttle. Unlike the old model, which was a bit ornery, the new one is fun without inducing fear.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Eat’n Park sells Cura division that serves hospitals and senior living
- Consol raises $101 million in coal asset sales
- ZeroFossil Energy Outfitters powers up with renewable sources
- Calgon Carbon inks deals for mercury scrubbing at 9 power plants
- Alcoa lands $1B airplane fastener contract from Airbus
- Power plants challenged by carbon capture and storage
- More employers adopt generous leave policies
- PNC fined for paperwork errors on municipal bond offerings
- Energy efficiency goes mainstream with help of regulations, demand
- Google’s robot cars legally require someone behind wheel, adding novel job
- Market rises on bet that Federal Reserve won’t raise interest rates soon