A Review of the 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD: The Original Sporty Lexus Keeps Getting Better
While the early years of the Lexus brand were all about luxury, the introduction of the IS sedan brought about a sportier side of the Japanese automaker and the 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD is a remarkable example of automotive evolution. With each revision over the past decade and a half, this compact luxury sedan has gotten progressively edgier, sportier and more luxurious – with the new IS350 F Sport being a beautiful culmination of those efforts. On the outside, the 2014 IS350 is more aggressive than ever; on the inside, the company has combined the feel of a sports car with the amenities of a proper luxury car and the drivetrain, suspension and chassis improvements have made this the most engaging Lexus sedan that I have driven that wasn’t from the premium “F” lineup.
My 2014 Lexus IS30 AWD test car carried a base price of $41,700 while the F Sport package added $3,180, the premium navigation system with a Mark Levinson sound system added $3,225, the blind spot monitoring system added $600, the Dynamic Radar cruise control added $500 and the cargo net added $64. When you add up all of those numbers with the $895 destination fee, my test car had a sticker price of $50,164 so while this isn’t exactly a budget sedan; the 2014 IS350 F Sport AWD offers an incredible amount of content for that price. When you look at what you are getting and compare the price to other vehicles with the same level of comfort and performance –the price of this Lexus sedan is actually quite reasonable.
Since the Lexus IS lineup was introduced in the US for 1998, it has had a sportier, edgier exterior design than the other models under the brand halo so while the 2014 IS350 sports the same basic design language as the rest of the brand including the sexy spindle grille, the new IS sedan is easily the most aggressive of the current Lexus sedans. The F Sport package takes that aggressive look a step further, adding a unique front fascia and grille that is unique from the non-F Sport models and the result is a car that clearly looks the part of a modern luxosport sedan.
While there are plenty of cars in the compact luxury sedan segment with an aggressive exterior, there are few cars that offer the level of sporty design in a non-premium model like the BMW M3 or the Audi S4. There will likely be a new Lexus IS F sedan at some point in the future and at that point, there will be an even more aggressive looking Lexus compact sedan but for the time being, the IS350 F Sport is unquestionably the sportiest looking car in the segment.
This aggressive styling is centered around the angry yet handsome face of the 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport. Unique to the F Sport package is a lower front fascia that has sharp sculpting lines that lead into massive brake cooking ducts – both of which flank the huge F Sport spindle grille. This grille features a unique gloss black mesh filling that is unlike the non-F Sport IS sedans, but the addition of a splash of chrome around the top of the grille opening reminds you that this is a sporty luxury car. Joining that unique front fascia is the striking headlight design that is truly unlike anything else in the segment, with angular LED daytime running lights mounted below the free floating HID projection headlight assemblies. Lexus could have more easily had one large headlight lens that incorporated the headlight and the LED daytime running lights but instead, they went with this split design and the result is a thing of beauty. This car looks mad, with the quickly sloping hood line and the high, swooping fenders giving the IS350 F Sport a poised-to-pounce look.
From the side, the 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport has a very sleek profile, with a long hood area, a gently sloping windshield, a long roof line, a long rear window and a very short trunk lid area creating a very slippery silhouette. While the sides of the car are fairly curvy, the sharply angled side skirts curve upwards in front of the rear wheels and you can see that body line continued behind the wheels…almost flowing up into the edge of the wrap around taillights. The rear door glass also has this upwards angle, which works with the lower lines to give this car a fast moving look even when it is sitting still. Some cool looking split spoke wheels and subtle F badging are the only features that allow the IS350 F Sport to stand out from the rest of the lineup – but the basic styling of the new IS is strong enough that the F Sport model doesn’t need a whole lot of dressing up to fit the part of a performance model.