2014 Lexus IS Performance

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Performance

Engines for the 2014 Lexus IS carry over from the previous-generation car, meaning you'll have a choice between the entry-level IS 250 with a 2.5-liter V-6 rated at 204 horsepower and up to 30 mph on the highway, or the IS 350, with a 306 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 good for up to 28 mpg highway.

All-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive are available in all forms of the 2014 Lexus IS, as is the F Sport package. While the IS 250 never really feels underpowered, it definitely doesn't have the pep you'd expect of a sport sedan. The IS 350 remedies that, and while the all-wheel drive's extra foul-weather traction is a nice feature, the rear-drive model's driving dynamics make it the enthusiast's pick.

While the 2014 Lexus IS 350 is fun and fast, the IS 250 lacks the power of a true sports sedan.

There's another good reason to pick the IS 350 RWD model, too: the eight-speed automatic transmission is only available in that model. The rest make do with six-speed automatic transmissions. While the six-speeds are smooth and perfectly functional, the eight-speed shifts quicker and smoother, improving both sporty and around-town driving.

From the driver's perspective, the biggest change is in the driver's seat--the seating position is 20 mm lower in the 2014 IS than in the previous model. That lends a more intuitive quality to the feel of the IS. Combined with the F Sport trim package and Adaptive Variable Suspension system, the 2014 IS corners with very little body roll, and is well-controlled and fun-to-drive in all respects. At the outer limits, tuned-in understeer is noticeable, but it's a minor issue.

On the electronics front, Lexus' Drive Mode Select system offers a driver-selectable performance settings that sharpen or soften the car's reactions at the driver's command.

Overall, the 2014 Lexus IS is a fun-to-drive car with well-balanced traits, but it's not enough to put the fear into the German, Japanese, and American competition.

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