Full 2014 Lexus IS 250 C Review
What's New for 2014
Apart from revised metallic interior trim in the F Sport option package, the 2014 Lexus IS 250 C is unchanged.
Daydreams about convertibles often involve a drive to the beach along a sunny road lined with palm trees and your companion's hair blowing freely in the wind. In the 2014 Lexus IS 250 C, you can experience all of this from the comfort of a luxurious cockpit. And on those days when weather conditions are at odds with your dreams, you can raise this four-seat convertible's hardtop roof and essentially transform the IS 250 C into a coupe.
Said hardtop makes for quiet and comfortable motoring 365 days a year in the Lexus IS 250 C. And when you arrive at that picturesque coastal highway, the retractable roof only takes about 20 seconds to stow. In true Lexus fashion, the IS 250 C gives the impression that it was assembled with care and precision, and it comes with more standard features than other luxury-brand convertibles in this price range.
Not all is perfect, though. The standard 2.5-liter V6 engine offers enough power to get the Lexus IS 250 C around town respectably, but it doesn't provide much excitement. The more potent V6 in the IS 350 C (reviewed separately) solves this problem but of course costs more. Similarly, the car's handling isn't especially sporty, though the available F Sport suspension and tire upgrades help sharpen its reflexes. Additionally, you'll find that the 2014 IS 250 C isn't ideal for road trips due to its very snug rear seats and serious lack of trunk space when the roof is lowered (although you can still fit a set of golf clubs).
Although the Lexus is one of only a few entry-level, four-seat luxury convertibles available for 2014, there are a few good rivals to consider. The new BMW 4 Series convertible is one of our favorites thanks to its impressive performance and roomier rear seat. The Audi A5 also has a larger trunk and backseat and available all-wheel drive to get you through snowy winters. Another option is the slightly less expensive Volkswagen Eos. It's not as luxurious as the Lexus, but it's significantly quicker and comes with a nice array of high-end features. That said, if carefree top-down driving is your main mission in buying a premium convertible, the 2014 Lexus IS 250 C is certainly worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-passenger 2014 Lexus IS 250 C is a luxury convertible with a retractable hardtop that's offered in a single well-equipped trim level. There is also an IS 350 C convertible with a larger engine and a few additional features, which is reviewed separately.
Standard equipment on the IS 250 C includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with two-way lumbar control), a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are the Safety Connect telematics system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio input jack and iPod/USB interface.
The optional Luxury package includes bi-xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, upgraded perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, genuine wood trim and driver memory settings. The Navigation package adds a navigation system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth automatic phonebook downloading, voice commands, HD radio and Lexus Enform enhanced telematics features (which include functions like emergency roadside assistance and smartphone app integration). A 12-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system can be added to the navigation system.
Other options include parking sensors and adaptive cruise control bundled with a frontal collision warning system. A variety of F Sport option packages are also available. In them, you'll find engine, suspension and brake performance parts; 18-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires; and upgraded interior trim and amenities.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Lexus IS 250 C comes with a 2.5-liter V6 engine that produces 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission that allows for manual shift control.
Lexus estimates that the IS 250 C will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. The EPA estimates that the IS 250 will get 24 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway).
The IS 250 C comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, front-seat side curtain airbags, front-seat knee airbags and Lexus Safety Connect emergency telematics.
Included with the optional adaptive cruise control is a forward collision warning/preparation system, which can snug up the front seatbelts and activate brake assist immediately when the driver presses the brake pedal if an impending collision is detected. Parking sensors and a rearview camera are also optional.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the IS 250 C earned the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The cabin of the 2014 Lexus IS 250 C is a stylish place done up in quality materials, especially in models decked out with the available Luxury package's premium leather and wood trim. Gauges and controls are clear and intuitive, though navigation-equipped models make it a little harder to get at touchscreen-controlled audio and climate functions while the nav system is in use. This nav system's smartphone integration features include Internet radio stations like Pandora and iHeart radio, as well as Yelp reviews for restaurants.
While the IS 250 C's front seats offer good comfort, the two-passenger backseat is a tight fit for all but the smallest kids. Trunk space is limited as well; there's a passable 10.8 cubic feet of cargo room, but it drops to just 2.4 cubic feet with the roof down. Oddly enough, it's still possible to squeeze in a golf bag with the top dropped.
Whether you're cruising along cocooned with the roof up or enjoying a little al fresco motoring with it down, the 2014 Lexus IS 250 C's stiff body structure and supple suspension tuning make for a solid, smooth ride, even over rough roads. Handling and steering feel are fine for casual drives, but the optional F Sport performance equipment is worth considering if you want the car to have a more sporting driving character.
The 2.5-liter V6 engine provides acceptable acceleration for daily driving, but nothing more. Buyers looking for more excitement from under the hood should move up to the considerably more powerful IS 350 C.