2014 Lexus IS 250 is larger than its predecessor,
but in power, it lags behind its peers
Halloween this year, I’m going as a 2014 Lexus IS 250
F Sport AWD. The new sedan looks fast and powerful, but
the sporty costume makes promises its drivetrain can’t
all-wheel drive IS 250 F Sport that I tested had rakish
styling and responsive handling, but its 2.5-liter V-6
engine and six-speed automatic transmission trailed the
power or fuel economy of competitors such as 2.0-liter
turbocharged versions of the Audi A4, Cadillac ATS and
for the 2014 Lexus IS start at $35,950 for a rear-drive
model with a 204-horsepower 2.5-liter V-6 engine.
All-wheel-drive models with the 2.5L engine start at
$38,485. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard
on all IS sedans. A 306-horsepower 3.5L V-6 powers the
IS 350. Prices start at $39,465 for rear-drive and
$41,700 for AWD. Lexus also sells a pair of two-door IS
convertibles, the $42,610 IS 250 C and $46,890 IS 350.
They use the platform that underpinned the smaller
previous-generation IS sedan.
tested an IS 250 AWD sedan with the attractive optional
F Sport appearance package and features that included a
sun roof, power seats, 10 air bags, navigation, voice
recognition, and Internet functions for navigation,
music, dining and more. It stickered at $43,245.
IS sedan grew larger and more accommodating for 2014.
Its wheelbase lengthened by 2.7 inches. Overall length
grew 3.4. The results are a roomy front seat, functional
rear seat and a 13.8 cubic-foot trunk that’s among the
largest in its segment.
IS 250 AWD is priced in the mid-range of such comparable
all-wheel drive sport sedans as the Audi A4, BMW 328i,
Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q 50, Mercedes C300 and Volvo
250’s power trails those competitors substantially.
The IS 250 AWD that I drove on a long trip from Detroit
to Minneapolis struggled to hold its own in the fast and
heavy traffic around Chicago and the rolling countryside
approaching the Mississippi. Its EPA fuel economy rating
— 20 mpg in the city, 27 highway and 23 combined —
trails the A4, ATS and 328i, all of which use smaller
but more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engines.
The Lexus’ fuel economy beat the six-cylinder Q 50,
C300 and S60 by 1-2 mpg. The EPA estimates the
300-horsepower Volvo, however, will cost the same to
fuel, thanks to its taste for less expensive regular
IS 250’s handling is responsive. The car felt secure
and balanced in fast curves and the brakes performed
admirably. The steering provides good feedback and a
secure on-center feel.
optional F Sport seats proved comfortable and supportive
on my long drive. Lexus uses a video game-style joystick
to control some features, including navigation. It’s
OK, but takes the driver’s eyes and attention off the
road longer than I like.
Enform Internet apps, which include music, dining and
more, worked well with my iPhone 4S. The
voice-recognition system works very well.
2014 IS has a handsome shape that’s accentuated by the
F Sport appearance package. In addition to interior
upgrades, the F Sport provides LED headlights, 18-inch
five-spoke wheels and a bold version of Lexus’
attractive spindle-shaped grille.
F Sport package looks like a million bucks — making it
a steal at $2,675 — but I think Lexus erred in
offering it on a car with mediocre performance. Lexus
wants to establish its F badge — first seen on the
seriously fast IS-F a couple of years ago — as a peer
to BMW’s M Sport and Mercedes’ AMG performance
brands. Slapping the badge and trim on the IS 250
undermines F Sport’s credibility as legitimate
a fine costume, though. A bit more trick than treat, but
Halloween is coming.
LEXUS IS 250 F SPORT AWD:
of vehicle: All-wheel drive five-passenger sporty sedan
Two out of four stars
2.5-liter DOHC VVT direct-injection 24-valve V-6
204 horsepower at 6,400 rpm; 185 pound-feet of torque at
weight: 3,649 pounds
to buy: Looks, handling; trunk room.
Power; fuel economy.
as tested: $43,245
prices exclude destination charge.