2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD – Truck Guy Review

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to drive the 2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD. While it certainly can’t compare to a full-size truck, it was quite the driving experience. Here is my review.

Lexus IS 250 AWD - Truck Guy Review

The Lexus IS 250 AWD is a really fun coupe with lots of appeal.

The Lexus IS product line has been revamped as of late and the larger version, IS 350, has been attracting a lot of attention from journalists and car buyers. Some people have speculated that these cars are game changers for Lexus and are a serious threat to BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It is certainly easy to see why with an exterior that has similar characteristics to the BMW 3 series and full of posh features.

For the record, my press fleet loan was an IS 250 AWD powered by a small 2.5L V-6, 24 valve, dual overhead cam, direct injected, variable valve timed engine. This engine puts out 204 HP, 185 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 6-speed transmission. My test model came with the following packages:

  • All weather
  • Luxury + Technology
  • Navigation System/Mark Levinson Premium Audio
  • Intuitive Parking Assist

It had a MSRP price of $47,140. Fuel economy averaged at 23 combined mpg with 20/27 city/highway. During a week of driving, I mostly got the sticker fuel economy average.

Lexus IS 250 AWD - Truck Guy Review

Front to back, the car is well put together.


While the front grille take a bit to get used to (I actually liked it from the start), it is amazing how similar the BMW 3 Series cars and the Lexus look. This is by design as Lexus is trying to snag sales away.

The big stand outs for me were the front grille and headlights. It seems more and more these days that the headlights are starting to really be a design emphasis. The truth is that the entire car’s fit and finish were outstanding.


The interior really grabbed my attention from the moment I sat in it. Maybe I have been in trucks way too long, but this interior just screams sporty luxury to me. It is amazing how well all the parts of the interior are at an ideal placement and how easily everything is to reach.

Lexus IS 250 AWD - Truck Guy Review

The interior is really nice and the driver seat reminded me of a cockpit.

One of the cool features has to be when the car automatically lowers the steering wheel and moves the seat into position after hitting the start button. It really gives you a sense that you are in for a driving experience unlike any other.

Also, the Mark Levinson sound system is really impressive. I have never been known as an audio expert, yet my ears could easily hear the difference.

Driving Impression

As much as the exterior and interior are really nice, we all know the driving experience is where it is at. Unlike my colleagues who think the Lexus 250 is under-powered and “heavy” in the corners, I thoroughly enjoyed the driving experience. Can I see their point of having the small V-6 under the hood? Sure, but it is a compact luxury sedan, not a Mustang. The truth is that while others have said it has too much grip and not enough juice, I really liked the grip. This car corners like it is on rails and I was able to take wide turns with an exhilarating rate of speed.

Lexus IS 250 AWD - Truck Guy Review

See any similarities between the Lexus IS 250 (left) and the BMW 3 series (right)?

While yes, it is a $47k coupe, it is more than that. As someone who has driven many of the standard coupe offerings on the market (Chevy Cruze, Ford Fiesta, etc…), this car is much different. I’m certainly not qualified to say whether or not if this Lexus product will be a serious threat to the BMW and Audi products. I will say that it certainly changed my view on Lexus cars.

Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com


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  1. Larry says:

    47,000 + .06 tax, 49820 total, 5 year loan at 7 percent, the payment will only be 986 a month plus insurance and fuel. Better get my order in before the price goes up and my old Subaru dies.

    Who are these people? No wonder median retirement savings for a 55 year old is only 50,000?

    Hard times are coming folks.

    I vote for the Corolla.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I was waiting for your response. 🙂

      I’m not running out to buy one, but it is a very nice coupe.


    • Jason says:

      I’d like to adjust your sentiments a bit and say “certified pre-owned Corolla” – you won’t see my head in the window of any Lexus anytime soon.

  2. mk says:

    47K for a vehicle not even as powerful or fuel efficient as any other V6 sedan on the market. Sorry, not paying near 20 grand more for the name even if AWD. AWD doesn’t make it worth 20 grand more and the name of mfg.

  3. MPToy07 says:

    Sorry for this very negative comment Tim, but I’m taking your articles less and less seriously with all the grammar / spelling errors. They are at the point where they are starting to get hard for me to read.

    I know, I know, I’m a grammar nazi, but in my eyes, proper grammar / spelling shows professionalism. My favorite quote from this article is “my eyes could easily hear the difference”. A simple proofread would catch that. There are other errors also, but I don’t feel they need to be mentioned.

    With a site such as THQ (whether it be Tundra Headquarters or Tacoma Headquarters), or any of the other sites you are associated with that deliver reading for the masses, I would expect spelling / grammar to be top notch. Currently, I feel it is sub-par.

    If you would like someone to proofread and edit for you, I believe you know where I can be reached.

    The Professor

    P.S. The IS 250 looks like a great new addition to the Toyota / Lexus family. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

  4. mendonsy says:

    Another way to look at it ……..
    Just think what you could do with a new Camry and $20k to spend on aftermarket mods!!

  5. Randy says:

    Yep ur, tiny car for 50k Well bugger on that. Ulmost like 50k for pickumUptruck. Oh mothered goose where is the grummer fuzz?

    Sum daz I canzt hep meself.

  6. Brad says:


    Sorry, BMW’s hold no attraction for me. Had a 320i years ago. Every time I took it in for routine maintenance, I got a $500-$600 bill. The dealer acted as if he was doing me a favor in selling the car to me. The first cold day we had, I turned on the heater and the engine boiled over. The heater had never been flushed before delivery to me. My Toyota dealer has treatd me like royalty since day 1. The engine vapor locked almost every summer day. It was fun to drive and run the 4 cylinder engine up to 6500+ and it cornered very nicely, but after one year, I had enough and sold it. All this to say that Lexus may very well steal sales from BMW in the dependability and economy to operate areas, it nothing else. But I will agree that for $50,000, the car needs more go under the hood. I need to say, in full disclosure, that I sold my BMW in 1981, so my experience may not be current with present day BMW’s. But I still favor Toyota company products. See below.

    Far and away, I have been happiest with the performance of my 2000 Avalon XLS (loaded for that year) and my wife’s 2012 Avalon LTD. No high maintenance costs and my dealer treats me the best I have ever been treated by a dealer in my life by any service department ( I am now 65). I am looking forward to my purchase of a 2014 Tundra – real soon now. Just waiting for an opportune time. And, no, I will not sell my 2000 Avalon – still too good of a car. It only has 165,000 miles!

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      There is a LOT to be said for reliability and dependability. Unfortunately, I’m just not sure many customers in that price range really care. It is a status symbol for them.

      The Avalon is a great car. And you just reminded me I need to get after my Toyota contact and see if they have one in their press fleet. It is funny to me that after owning all sorts of different “sexy” vehicles that I will take a reliable 4-door sedan any day of the week. With that said, there is DEFINITELY something about a Lexus product. For that matter, there is definitely something about the 1794 Tundra as well. I was never a luxury type buyer, yet after driving these vehicles, I am really changing my mind. Man, they are nice!!


  7. Brad says:

    Clarification: The 320i engine vapor locked, not any Toyota I have owned.

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