Seeing a compact sedan show up in my driveway during the middle of a snow storm usually brings me a bit of dismay. Not so with the 2014 Lexus IS. The test car was 350 AWD model, so even though it was small, it was very mighty. My snow-packed alley was the biggest challenge. And even after our snow removal guys snowblowed me into my spot, I was able to traverse the icy piles with ease. On the highway, when the roads were clear, I was able to push the 3.5-liter, V-6 enough to have fun merging with traffic and taking clover-leaf on ramps at a nice clip. Ironically, when I tested this same car on the racetrack I was unimpressed –pickup was mediocre and it slid through the curves when I thought it should be a bit grippier. Moral of the story: It’s a lot of fun as an every-day driver (in winter and summer), but leave it off the racetrack.
The interior is just as compact as the exterior, which was great for me, but not so great for my fiancé. He thought the seats were a bit too small for his somewhat wider posterior. Interior appointments were luxurious, and I particularly appreciated the heated seats. Trunk space is pretty decent for a compact car, and it would be relatively easy to fit luggage for a road trip. However, it better be a road trip for 4 Jill-sized adults or 2 average-sized adults because back-seat space is very limited if anyone taller than me is driving.
Base price: $36,100
As-tested price: $50,783
Cargo volume: 13.8 cubic-feet