2014 Lexus IS 350 Sedan (3.5L V6 8-speed Automatic)
The new Lexus IS 350 superbly balances performance with the comfort that's so often missing in sport sedans. The new interior is well-crafted, as expected from Lexus, though there are a couple of ergonomic miscues. The longer wheelbase has made for a more livable rear seat.
PerformanceThe 3.5-liter V6 is ultra smooth and hits 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. This larger, heavier IS has lost some edge compared to the previous model, but it's a respectable handler. The BMW 3 Series remains the car to beat in terms of pure performance.
The 306-hp V6 is unchanged and remains pleasant at all times, with acceleration that's right in the thick of the class. New 8-speed automatic aids fuel economy and blips throttle on manual downshifts.
It's easy to acclimate to the IS's firm pedal around town. The brakes work well in panic stops, stable and confident. But 123 feet from 60 mph is a bit long considering the summer tires.
Despite an isolated feel, the steering is precise and offers appropriate weightiness for all situations and speeds. Good straightline stability on highways.
An accomplished handler with a rare combination of "lively" and "composed," which encourages approaching limits with confidence and predictability. There are some sharper rivals, but few as balanced.
Supple throttle delivery, smooth-shifting automatic (or manual-shifting with paddles), and most folks will appreciate the isolated steering. Easy to park and a good day-long road tripper, too.
ComfortComfort and luxury are two big parts of the Lexus IS game. We can't recall softer leather seats, ever. Unlike others in its class, it has a comfy ride and the cabin always keeps outside noise out.
Seats are covered with beautifully soft leather and fronts (with optional heat/vent) have ample side bolstering. Rear seats are also comfortable and now provide enough leg room for adults.
Only the most broken or grainy pavement upsets the placid ride of the IS 350. Ride comfort is one of the IS's strongest assets.
On the highway you can't hear any engine or wind noise, only occasional road noise. At full throttle the V6 is punchy but smooth, never loud or obnoxious.
InteriorThe IS interior is generally a great place to spend time, with good control placement and an excellent driving position. Sore points include the lack of a front storage bin and limited rear head room. Leg room has been improved, though.
Driver's position is very good. Controls have a quality feel, but the Remote Touch Controller is finicky and seems out of place. Finger-sliding temp controls work perfectly.
Easy and natural to get in/out up front. The rear doors don't open super wide, and you have to duck a bit to keep from hitting your head on the roof.
Head room is decent up front with generous elbow room. Leg and knee room have been improved in the rear, but head room will still be tight for some adults.
Front and side roof pillars are slim, but rear roof pillars are large, and the beltline swings upward. Optional rearview camera has a large screen. Cross-traffic, blind-spot and lane-departure alerts are available.
Accommodating door pockets, but no front bin. Awkward divider shelf in glovebox and average-sized center bin. Rear seats split-fold 60/40. Trunk capacity is 13.8 cubic feet, has a wide opening.
ValueOf the sport-luxury car makers, Lexus demonstrates a comparatively strong value in the IS 350 with a fair price paid for generous standard equipment, high-quality materials and build, and competitive fuel economy with an above-average warranty.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Excellent materials and workmanship, as we've come to expect from Lexus. Different textures, surfaces and plenty of padded leather. The leather seats are fantastically supple.
Lengthy list of standards includes xenon headlamps, keyless entry/start, sunroof, premium audio with color display, Bluetooth, emergency assist button with auto crash notification and more.
With a $40,555 base price, the IS 350 undercuts by several thousand dollars comparable models from both BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Still, adding just a couple of packages inflates it to almost $50K.
On our test loop we averaged 26.4 mpg, which clobbers the EPA's 22 mpg Combined (19 City/28 Highway) rating. But the rival BMW 335i is rated at 25 mpg Combined (22 City/32 Highway).
The IS 350 has a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and 6-year/70,000-mile drivetrain coverage. The basic warranty is average, but the drivetrain coverage is better than most.
Free roadside assistance for the first 4 years with unlimited miles, and the first two scheduled maintenance visits are complimentary. Lexus has a top reputation for durability and customer service.
Fun To DriveUnless drivers are looking for a wild-eyed, no-compromise sport sedan, the redesigned IS 350 will provide all the fun most will crave from behind the wheel. And with a strong measure of comfort, too.
More than anything, the IS delivers a thoroughly quiet, smooth, comfortable and luxurious sport sedan experience.
Lexus walks that fine line between sport and luxury that few have done with much success. This new-generation IS 350 is slightly more biased toward luxury, but still gives up little in terms of sport.
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Edmunds Insurance Estimator
The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Lexus IS 350 Sedan in VA is:
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