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2014 Lexus IS 250 Overview
Lexus delivers on the last driver complaint in the long-awaited IS redesign for 2014 and incrementally improves on the rest, effectively maintaining the IS 250's spot in the limelight for value in comfortable commuting. It's safe to expect the upcoming 2015 convertible redesign to borrow the same platform, given a sturdier roll bar up front and more room overall, but this year finds the entire IS lineup to date standing against the logical conclusion of those changes—each 2014 sedan gets up to 60 mph 0.3 second quicker than its predecessor with a more agile character and precisely the same fuel economy estimates rather than losing any performance due to the chassis changes.
Steering response is sharpened and refined in a total drivetrain overhaul, legroom is up by as much as 2 inches, and cabin comfort is improved overall with more intuitive controls and re-sculpted sport buckets up front, adding to both occupant comfort and rear legroom at once. A lot of those driver-requested differences are easily attributed to a 2.7-inch growth in its wheelbase (to 110.2 inches) and a 3.4-inch addition to overall length, but increasing every exterior dimension by no less than half an inch usually hurts performance.
Not so for the IS. Over 183 inches in overall length puts the IS on the full-size side of midsize, yet early testers say it performs more like a boyish hot hatch—closer to compact character than anything else.
How Lexus accomplished all of that is a very complicated and very long story, the maker adopting a more Mercedes-Benz-like each-their-own approach to the driving character in every trim's transmission shift map, adaptive suspension, electric power steering effort and steering ratio—with further variation depending on which of 3 or 4 driving modes are selected. Eco, Normal and Sport modes are available across the board, with all-wheel drive (AWD) models adding a Snow mode.
Both drivetrains are available lineup-wide, as before, but the IS 250's 6-speed automatic gains paddle shifters that rev-match downshifts in Sport mode. Otherwise early testers say Normal has a set-and-forget quality rarely found in sporting commuters these days. This one mode offers both economical enough shifts to maintain 21 mpg city/30 highway in RWD trims (21/27 with AWD) and enough sporting character to beat its worst 2013 zip-to-60 mph time by almost a full second, according to official releases touting its worst finish at more like 7.6 seconds after standstill. That's without changing a thing about the engine's 204 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque.
However, none of that means Lexus skimped on technology or any other creature comfort, for that matter. Drivers these days expect aids like blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warnings and rear cross-traffic alerts to be available at the least, and the IS 250 delivers those as options with 10 standard airbags to boot. Also on the options ballot are features like a backup camera, 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, heated and ventilated seats, rain-sensing wipers and power-adjusted steering wheel to complement included tech like its 7-inch center stack infotainment screen and touch-sensitive controls.
Your prototypical "Tom Girl" Patricia got her start digging into Ford engines before she aged into double digits. Gifted with a mechanical mind, her favorite pass-time in the summer is picking up a fixer-up'r at the local public auction and massaging its every ailment until it's primed for a new lover. From dirt bikes to land yachts, every partner offers something truly special in her love affair with the road - just don't tell her husband.
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