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Roadshow Video Reviews
The brutally brilliant 2014 Lexus IS FWe bid farewell to the most unlikely Lexus -- a sport sedan with the heart of a muscle car.
Oh, man. The 2014 Lexus IS F. This is the last of the Lexus second-generation IS chassis. The rest of the lines moved on to the third-generation platform. Now, what makes the IS F special? It's part sport sedan, part Japanese muscle and all grin. I'm behind the wheel. Let's pull over and see what's over the hood, and check the tech. Now, the IS F is no mere body kit and styling upgrade like the F sport package that you'll get on the standard IS. This IS F model is practically a completely different vehicle. Its body is wider, and it sits lower on its suspension. It sits on 19-inch wheels that are of a staggered fit. So, the fronts are a little bit narrow, the backs are a little bit wider. So, you get better grip at the rear end where all the power is going. And if you ever need to spot one of the things going down the road, one of the first things you'll look for are these fake brake ducts right here. They're a cosmetic choice, not a performance upgrade. But they do kinda help push the body out a little bit more and complete the look and the appearance. And of course, you've got F sport badges all over the damn thing. Now, in case you hadn't forgotten that this is a special car, even the engine cover has a carbon fiber look. And underneath that, it's gonna be Lexus' 5-liter V8 engine. Now, that's gonna use a combination of direct and port injection to get you 416 horsepower and 371 pound feet of torque. Now, with an engine this big, you're gonna use a lot of fuel even when you're idling. So, it's got about 16 miles per gallon in the city, 23 miles per gallon on the highway. I've been averaging about 10. Fuel economy is not the number you're really interested in when you're looking at a vehicle like this, though. You wanna know those performance numbers. The thing does 0-60 in 4.6 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 170 miles per hour. You're not gonna do that anywhere away from a track. And here's about the point where you'd expect me to complain about Lexus only having automatic transmission on their sport sedan. But this is really good automatic transmission. It's got 8 forward speeds, and that is from a 5- or 6-year-old gearbox. Most automakers are only getting around-- putting up 7 in their most efficient vehicles. We've got 8 in this sports car. And that transmission also uses Lexus' direct-shift technology. This locks up the gearbox, it locks up the torque converter, and gears 2 through 8. So, you lose a little bit of a slop that you normally have in a torque-converted automatic transmission. But then, you still get these move shifts when you need them. Now, day to day, it's a little rough to deal with. The suspension is firm and it's gonna bump you around a lot over bumps. Those brakes are gonna squeal when they're cold. But you knew that getting in to this, you drop down your money on a Lexus IS F, you knew that you're getting something that's just a little bit more hard-edged than your typical IS. So, I'm willing to deal with that for the grin that this car supplies. And man, are there plenty of grin to be had. Now, the interior and cabin tech of this 2014 IS F is topnotch. For 2008, when this car was debuted, it hasn't changed a lot. And we do have some cool things here. Push button starter is standard. We've got this really nice sport seats that are leather and Alcantara, and they really hold you nice in the corners. There's not a lot of hard plastic, but the dashboard's covered with this weird soft rubbery stuff. I like to call this Godzilla skin because it looks like the big monster from the Japanese movies. The dashboard tech is mostly optional. This is gonna be our hard-drive-based Lexus navigation system. It's a-- easy-to-touch screen as opposed to the Remote Touch controller that a lot of newer Lexus' use. And it does feel dated, but it definitely gets the job done. It has been updated with Lexus' Enform app. So, if you want to use Pandora thing for searching, you look at up the upper views and whatnot, you can do all of that here once you've connected to a smartphone that's running the Enform app. We've also got Bluetooth hands-free as standard, as well as audio streaming and USB connectivity for your iPod and mass storage devices. The interesting thing about this system is that although it is dated and it uses the touch screen and the graphics look a little bit old, in its own way, it is better than what Lexus is doing right now with that Remote Touch controller. There's not a lot of fiddliness. It's really simple, and it's really easy to use. And I'd like to see Lexus getting back to doing more with less instead of complicating the control scheme. Now, the audio from this non-branded 13-speaker Lexus audio system is really good. This really strong bass that fills the cabin up and 13 speakers in a small sedan is a lot. And it actually sounds really good, depending on which audio source you give it. We've got the aforementioned USB and Bluetooth connectivity, we've also got HD radio for those of you who like terrestrial, we've got satellite radio also, and then, you've got a couple of digital audio streaming sources when you use the Enform apps. Upgrading to the navigation camera also takes the advantage of the large screen with a reverse camera. And it doesn't have trajectory lines or distance markers, but it is remarkably clear, big, and bright. I really like that. For $500 or $600 more, you get front and rare distant sensors, so they'll let you know with an audible beep when you're getting close to something at the front and rear of the vehicle. And of course, it takes a lot of practice to get this wide body close to the curb without scuffing up those 19-inch BBS wheels. Okay. So, let's price this 2014 Lexus IS F, the last of the second-generation IS bodies. It's gonna start at $63,350. Fully optioned up with navigation and parking sensors and floor mats, you're gonna come to 67,419 bucks all in. Now, compared to a Mercedes Benz C53 AMG or a BMW M3, maybe that's not the best deal. But a car like this isn't a logical decision. It's an emotional decision. Nobody buys a big V8 because it makes sense. Then, if your emotions are pointing you to this, one of the last of the great Lexus sport sedan, well, perhaps it's worth a second look.