2014 Lexus IS 350 F-SPORT Review – Impressive Performance
Last week, I got my hands on a 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport to review. While I had recently driven the IS 250, the performance differences between the 250 and the 350 F-SPORT are remarkable. Here is my “truck guy” review.
The Lexus IS 350 F-SPORT has been getting lots of acclaim lately from some notable outlets like Car and Driver and MotorTrend. It is easy to see why those publications, that spend a lot of time on the track, would LOVE this car. While I didn’t get track time with it, the performance on a simple street is impressive enough. Driving it on a track? No doubt it would put a smile on your face.
For the record, I received a 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-SPORT AWD with a 3.5L V-6, 6-speed transmission with four driving modes: ECO, Normal, Sport and Sport +. It also comes with an Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with electronically adjustable shock absorbers. It is rated at 19/26/21, city/highway/combined. And the sticker price is $49,600.
Before I get to my review, you might be wondering what the differences between the 250 and 350 are. On the exterior, there really aren’t any with both cars being the same length with identical design features. The inside is also mostly the same. The difference then? Under the hood and in the suspension. The 350 has a 3.5L V-6 while the 250 has the 2.5L V-6. Also, the AVS suspension is only for the 350 F-SPORT. In short, the 350 is faster (5.6 0-60 vs. 7.7 0-60) and handles better. This is why most “track” outlets love the 350 and dismiss the 250.
With the thought that the 250 and 350 are identical, let’s quickly get through the exterior/interior review. The exterior on these cars reminds me of other luxury cars (see: BMW) and definitely has a sleek look. The only comment I have overall, is how the front license plate requirement in Colorado kills the design on the grille. In fact, that was the first thing I noticed – the obnoxious license plate.
The F-SPORT has upgraded 18′ F SPORT split 5-spoke wheels that are nice and help identify it as a fast, luxurious car.
The interior is as amazing as you would expect from a Lexus. While, I really like 90% of it, I really only have two knocks on it and they are important knocks.
One is the sport seats in the 350 F-SPORT caused me pain to sit in for an extended period. They are the shaped racer seats and if your hips allow it, they are great. Mine sat right on the edges and the hard plastic/metal that forms the seats caused me pain.
Second, is the entry/exit of the vehicle. The 250 had a powered seat memory function where the seat and wheel would move forward/reverse when the car started and turned off. This 350 didn’t have it, so I was forced to reverse the seats each time I got out in order to set it up for me to get back in. Lexus offers the powered seat memory feature in a Luxury/Technology package for $3,675. For guys like me, it is a must.
While the interior/exterior may be similar to the 250, the driving experience is vastly different. I had thought the 250 was plenty of car and now, I can see how much better the 350 is. The large engine, more speeds in the tranny and AVS suspension can put you back in your seat while providing plenty of control. That back in your seat feeling is, of course, really evident in the Sport driving mode. I had a lot of fun running the same length of road in Normal, ECO and Sport. There are several cars that, I feel, provide little differences. Not the case in the 350 F-SPORT. It is very evident what mode you are in.
A cool feature with the Sport mode is the change in the tachometer. As the picture above shows, it is clear which mode you are in.
With power to go really fast, how about the cornering. Exceptional, as you would expect. You can dive deeper in the corners than in the 250. It is clear that the AVS suspension works hard to give you a great performance driving experience. I never felt out of control and with the impressive power output, the car felt more solid as it went faster.
What is that “plus” for next to the Sport mode? Lexus says that the “rear-wheel drive IS 350 F SPORT’s Sport S+ mode also tightens the suspension and increases the steering response in VGRS-equipped models. In both modes, the transmission’s shift points are automatically altered coming into and out of corners for sharper acceleration.” Note: this feature must also be in the AWD model.
With the exceptional 0-60 speed, it is easy to drive this car a bit on the fast side. I less than a half mile, I was able to quickly “break the law” shall we say.
The road noise is somewhat noticeable and while it does ride fairly well, I wasn’t overly impressed with how it handled bumps. I believe the AVS has much more to do with track performance than managing pot holes. Personally, I wasn’t blown away with how it rode like other Lexus models.
Ultimately, this is a car for a guy who likes going really fast while enjoying a luxurious interior. As an everyday driver, I’m not sure it would be the best choice. Yet, that isn’t the point of this car is it. It is really for those moments when you want to push it and drive around with a big smile on your face.
What do you think? Any interest in the 350 F-SPORT?
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com