Lexus’ all new 2014 IS 250 and IS 350 will be unveiled at the Detroit International Auto Show on Tuesday morning. Today Lexus released some preview photos and confirmed some long-awaited facts. First the good news; Lexus did not kill off the IS 350 and in fact, it seems as if it will now go forward as the flagship sports sedan in the Lexus line. Previously, Lexus had the IS F, which came with a V8 and an 8 speed transmission to carry the company torch as the flagship production car.
New 2014 Lexus IS Drivetrains
Lexus has confirmed that the IS 250 and IS 350 will both continue. In addition, for some markets there will be an IS 300h. Lexus did not list the United States as one of those markets. Given the recent design trends at Lexus there was little doubt that the IS F would go away. The new GS had dropped the V8 option and the IS F initials were rumored to be called “In Stock Forever” by some dealers having trouble finding buyers. We have driven the IS F and the IS 350 back to back on public roads and can tell you there was very little difference between them. On track that was not the case, but Lexus is not trying to make the IS a track car, nor should it. Car enthusiasts that take 4 door, $50K sedans on a track are few and getting fewer. However, look for some of the IS F exclusive equipment such as the 8-speed automatic to trickle down to the IS350.
The IS250 is the volume seller in the lineup now, and will likely continue to be. The hybrid may end up in US showrooms at some point, but Lexus’ CT 200h isn’t exactly a hot potato and the marketplace has treated “sporty” slow hybrids with disdain.
Lexus IS Body Design
The new car is slightly wider and has a longer wheelbase. Lexus has shown us the new IS 350 F SPORT styling. That means a lower chin, more aggressive frond end, lower side skirts, and a small diffuser and trunk-lid spoiler. We will see the base design Tuesday, but we can see the new IS is not a huge departure from Lexus current spindle grill and lower, wider, longer design trends. IS fans will rejoice that the rear of the car is now redone. The ¾ rear view and the back of the car were not good and let an otherwise attractive design down.
New IS Interior
The new IS will adopt the company’s remote touch controller for the infotainment system. It works very well and Lexus owners have overall loved it. The company’s new single gauge with varying information will be the focal point of the cluster. Rather than two gauges, this single one will have revs or speed displayed along the outside rim simulating an analog gauge and the other information will be inside. Other changes include the now ubiquitous analog clock in the center dash (thank you Infiniti), and a perforated leather wheel. The wooden steering wheel from the GS has not tricked down (good) and the trim seems to be silver and matte black plastic instead of being made from a plant. This gives the car a more contemporary look and vibe. Hopefully base models will mimic this look and not revert to laminated, clear shellacked wood.
In today’s press release Lexus states that the new car will have best in class knee room. The front driver's seat is lower. The steering wheel will now also be able to come closer to the driver for a more cruiser type seating. Rear seats in the current IS contact the front the seats when the fronts are all the way back, so look for more rear seating space, particularly knee room.
Check back Tuesday morning for more details on the all-new 2014 Lexus IS line.