Lexus has redesigned the IS for 2014, giving the sport sedan the bold spindle grille seen on other newer Lexus models as well as an all-new interior with a roomier backseat. Again offered with rear- or all-wheel drive with a choice of two V-6 engines, the IS competes against models like the Cadillac ATS, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. It hits dealerships midway through the 2013 calendar year.
The IS' dominant design theme is its oversized spindle grille, which gives the sedan an imposing look in F Sport trim. LED daggers below the headlights complement the pinched upper area of the grille, and the dagger theme is mimicked in the taillights. The sedan's wheelbase has been stretched 3 inches but it remains well-proportioned overall and retains the smooth body sides of its predecessor.
The five-seat interior sees even bigger changes than the exterior, with an all-new dashboard design that adopts the slightly industrial, stacked look of other recently redesigned Lexus models. Lexus' Remote Touch-operated navigation system is available.
From a comfort standpoint, the biggest improvement to the cabin is the much roomier backseat, which gives taller passengers good legroom — something that was sorely missing in the prior-generation IS. The sedan also gets a new split-folding backseat, but it doesn't lay flat with the cargo floor; there's a ledge that's about 6 inches tall.
Under the Hood
The 2014 IS will again be offered in IS 250 and IS 350 form and powered by a 2.5-liter V-6 or a 3.5-liter V-6, respectively. Horsepower and torque figures for the engines haven't been announced as of publication, but the power plants carry over from the 2013 IS, so expect similar output. (The 2013 IS 250 made 204 horsepower and 185 pounds-feet of torque while the IS 350 produced 306 hp and 277 pounds-feet of torque.) The rear-wheel-drive IS 350 now gets the eight-speed automatic transmission from the IS F high-performance model but the rest of the lineup uses a six-speed automatic.
The new IS gets Lexus' Drive Mode Select system with normal, Eco, Sport and, for the IS 350, Sport+ modes that adjust vehicle response for enhanced gas mileage or performance. Another new performance feature is G-force Artificial Intelligence, or G-AI. Available in Sport mode, the system adjusts how the transmission downshifts based on G force, and also holds the selected gear through a corner.
The suspension has been overhauled, too. The sedan still uses a double-wishbone front suspension that now has greater sway rigidity while the rear suspension features a new multilink design from Lexus' larger GS sedan. The F Sport edition of the IS gains unique suspension and steering tuning designed to yield better handling.
The car has 10 standard airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. An array of active safety features are available including a lane departure warning system, a blind spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert. Automatic high-beam headlights that dim when there's traffic ahead are also available.
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