Review: 2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD – Is It Ready for the Battle?

2014 lexus is250 awd lights video

Here it is – the third generation of the Lexus IS sedan is finally here.  The previous model was on sale for eight years, and this 2014 Lexus IS could not come soon enough.  What is the 2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD like to drive and is it prepared to do battle against the likes of BMW 3-series?  Read on to find out.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD $38,485 $47,140 204 / 185
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: LEASE IT! 20 / 27 Combined 23  23.5

First Impressions

The new IS sedan is a looker from any angle.  People notice it on the street and it draws positive comments.  It has the traditional aggressive appearance of the rear-wheel-drive sedan, and the theme continues on the inside.

2014 lexus is 250 awd tail rear lights


The 2014 IS has a unique headlight design that physically separates the underscoring LED running lights from the main projectors.  A casual won’t notice this detail right away, but the front end still looks low and aggressive nonetheless.  Athletic design runs down the side, swoops up along the running boards, and finishes nicely with stretched out tail lights.  The whole design works well together and has a lot of concept car influence still within it.

Interior continues the sporty theme with a chunky steering wheel and cockpit-like driver environment.  There is not a lot of side room, but it does not feel claustrophobic.  The door, center console, and the nicely bolstered seats hold the driver firmly in place – just like a sports sedan should.  It reminded me a lot of the Lexus CT 200h I tested earlier in the year.

2014 lexus is 250 awd dash interior

The engine start/stop button is unusually high on the dash, and it took me a minute to find it.  Interior materials are good all around, controls are easy to learn and use, but the infotainment screen and interface in the entry-level IS 250 is carry over and makes the car feel dated.  If you are worried about this, check out the LFA supercar inspired gauges and newer infotainment system in the IS 350 F Sport.


You are probably thinking that the 2014 IS 250 has some kind of turbocharged four cylinder engine under the hood, like all of its competitors.  Nope.  It’s sporting a small naturally aspirated 2.5-liter V6 with 204 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque.  This is the same engine as in the previous generation IS 250.  This motor is very smooth and revs with ease.  Unfortunately, it does not make a lot of torque.  When you add the weight and drag of the AWD system, it does not make for a very fast car.  Lexus rates it at 8.3 seconds 0-60 MPH, and I clocked in a 10.4 second acceleration run at a mile above sea level.

2014 lexus is 250 v6 engine awd

The exhaust is generally quiet but wakes up a bit at wide open throttle.  Basically, this Lexus sounds and feels faster than it actually is.  It’s not a bad thing for running errands around town, but do not expect to win many stop light sprints.  Engine’s power is sent to all wheels via a capable 6-speed automatic.  It has paddle shifters and works very well in automatic or manual modes.  Although, it will not hold gear in manual mode when you get close to the redline.  It will always upshift for you, which is a little annoying.


I was fortunate enough to drive this Lexus on a racetrack, although be it a short-track oval (Colorado National Speedway).  I can happily report that the new IS has a great balance and is very confident going in and coming out of corners.  The steering has good feel and weight, although it can be somewhat artificial at times.  Suspension is well sorted.  It’s not harsh on rough roads, and it keeps body lean to a minimum.  The 2014 Lexus IS definitely excels in the handling and ride department.  Well done!



Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft  0-60 MPH
2014 Lexus IS250 AWD $38,485 20/27 204/185 8.3
2014 Audi A4 Quattro $35,595 22/32 220/258 6.6
2014 BMW 320i xDrive $34,750 23/35 180/184 7.1
2014 Cadillac ATS AWD $37,095 20/30 272/260 n/a
*2014 Infiniti Q50 3.7 AWD $38,500 19/27 328/269 n/a
*2014 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic $39,400 20/27 248/251 6.0

* 2014 Infiniti Q50 is not yet available with the 2.0-liter turbo, and 2014 Mercedes C250 1.8-liter turbo is not available with 4Matic.  Still these Infiniti and Mercedes and their more powerful V6s start at a comparable price point and deliver nearly identical MPGs.

The new IS 250 AWD is in a company of more powerful and/or more efficient luxury sport sedans.  It is unfortunately the slowest in a 0-60 MPH sprint. The carry-over 2.5-liter V6 is letting it down in the performance department.  Otherwise, the new Lexus is a great handling sporty luxury sedan.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2014 Lexus IS250 AWD a Lease It!

This test car stickered at $47,140 after adding nearly every option on the spec sheet.  Still, the older infotainment system and poor acceleration performance hold back the IS 250 AWD.  In the end, I give it a Lease It! rating because I do not see good value in this sedan.  You can get an IS 350 AWD for $47,000 and this is more attractive to me.  I am looking forward for Lexus to add a modern turbo powerplant to the IS 250 and update its navigation system.

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Check out these two fun and informative TFL videos where the IS250 AWD takes on the IS 350 and F Sport:


Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been a contributor at TFL since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or simply ‘going for a drive’.