To start, I was unable to drive the car. There were two prototypes at the facility. They were about 80-90% representation of the finished product. Suffice to say I was very disappointed by that fact, but I still took advantage of seeing the 3IS in the flesh. There was a Matador Red IS350 F-Sport with black Nuluxe interior w/ Navi and ML, and there was a Starfire Pearl IS350 with a cashmere/ecru interior w/Navi no ML.
I learned A LOT about these cars, and I must say I came away impressed by the technology of the 3IS. Before I dive into that though, I want to start with the obvious. The exterior.
The 3IS is one you have to see in person. Pictures do not do it justice at all (well except maybe the black 350 F-Sport in the latest issue of Motortrend). As I approached both 350 models, I immediately was drawn towards the F-Sport. The grill obviously reminiscent of the LF-LC and LF-CC is polarizing. Aggressive and expansive. I also found it to be more attractive than the horizontal bars on the standard/luxury model 350 (to it's credit I think it'd look better in Obsidian). The white 350 did have parking sensors that you have to look closely for as they are black hide well with the honeycomb lower air dam. The separate LED DRL's are nice, even better is the fitment into the bumper (a small tangent - this should be interesting to see how modders accept this as we know if you lower a car the odds of hitting a bumper tab increases which can misalign the bumper :/). Amazing how much went into that. Again, it looks better in person, and better on darker colors. The 3IS has plenty of new aero on it like stabilizer fins and underbody panels that help contribute to better stabilization, fuel economy, and lower coefficient drag. They helped on the ES, GS, and LS, and will surely do the same for the IS. Side profile is sleek if not a little bland, but the rocker panel coming up towards the taillights helps give the IS an aggressive stance. Coming to the rear, I really liked the LED taillights which had good definition and were not flush with the body. The integrated rear spoiler looks better in person. I wasn't a fan of the diffusor area and the gray/black plastic, but it wasn't a deal breaker. Overall the exterior though perhaps not as pretty as the 2IS or timeless as the 1IS, takes Lexus into the future of design. Even more importantly however is what is found on the inside.
Now there's a lot about the interior, but I'm going to separate the "Interior" and "Technology". The first thing I did was hop in the rear. It's bigger. The extra 3inches helps tremendously and is now competitive in it's segment for rear seat legroom. The 3IS will fit 4 adults with relative comfort, but the fifth middle seat is just as useless as the last IMO. Jumping out I noticed how long rear doors were as I swung it open. A potential problem in parking lots with guests in the rear (be careful!). As I turned around I remembered a key feature of the 3IS. Folding 60/40 split rear seats!! Yes they work great and have latches near the headrests for easy access to folding. Also towards the bottom where in older Lexus's you had to dig between the cushions to find the child anchors, well now there are small plastic caps on the vertical cushions that hide the anchors which are called ISO-FIX latch bars. One of the biggest things for me, and pretty much will decide whether I pick up a 3IS myself is the material quality. My biggest fear was that it would take after the ES and not the GS. Well in all fairness as I mentioned above, these were prototypes and represented 80 to 90% completion (3IS subject to change
). The prototypes had some cheaper plastics around the lower doors and near the trunk release. The plastics on the center console though no GS, did seem marginally better than the ES center console. Still not the level I'd like to see them though. I'd also like to mention that the 3IS front headrests go up and down like the 2IS, but now have three way movement fore and aft. These prototypes did not have that feature though, but the final product in June will. When I slipped into the drivers seat, the first thing I noticed was I was sitting "in" rather than sitting "on" the seats. The Nuluxe was soft but supportive and bolstered well. The LACK of a leather and ventilated OPTION does still irk me. Part of the reason Nuluxe does not have ventilation is the manufacturing process which is essentially pouring the synthetic leather into a mold. Although I like the look of the new exposed cup-holders, if you're a big person your arm naturally wants to fall/rest where they are. I have to regretfully say that the sunglass holder is gone. The SOS button took over. Reason being, the placement of the SOS was to help make it more noticeable to drivers so they don't hit it thinking they are hitting a dome light...
. The horizontal layers of the whole dash actually takes up a lot of real-estate IMO, which could have been used better say perhaps more storage above the glove box or a bigger glove box (which actually felt a bit cheap). Thankfully all the climate control buttons are easy to use AND there is now an actual AC button on the dash so no need to navigate through the on screen menu's to find it. The electrostatic climate controls work great and can be swiped with a finger or pressed up and down. Also the fuel door release is a Push-to-Open type like the GS so there is no fuel door release button in the cabin anymore.
I unfortunately cannot speak about the performance about the IS since I did not drive it so this will be short and sweet. I will reiterate that the aerodynamics have increased stability, reduced wind noise, increased efficiency. The 8-Speed automatic found on the IS-F is on the 350 and 350 F-Sport but not the AWD 350. All this should contribute to a better ride, better handling, and better balance. The rear brakes are now located opposite of where they were on the 2IS which means they are inward rather than outward for better balance and more evenly distributed weight. The Driver Mode select is a nice addition too and easy to use than trying to find the ECT PWR button behind the steering wheel. AWD is available on both 250 and 350. Suffice to say, Lexus took all it's competition and benchmarked the 2IS against them then asked what makes them more fun to drive. A bunch of journalists got to drive the new 3IS prototypes in Austin, TX last week, and their reviews are positive from what corporate said.
This is the big one, and actually something I'm surprised Lexus isn't touting more. They should be proud of what has gone into this new Multi Media System and Navigation. Where to start?! Well I'll begin with the gauge cluster. On the standard and luxury model 3IS you get two analog meters, one for tach one for speedo. In-between is a decently sized MID or Multi Information Display. The customization is immense! Navigation directions can display turn by turn, audio, trip information, Driver 1/Driver 2 to see specific information when its a specific driver, phone contacts including incoming call picture is available as well. The F-Sport gauge cluster is the one to have IMO though, as the buttons on the right of the steering wheel make it do what the LFA does, by moving and customizing information. You can also change some of the colors like the rev limiter which was found on the satellite controls on the 2IS. Also neat is the shift points which temporally marks where the car shifted and the ECU learns. They called it a Peak Indicator. The visual it provides is for your enjoyment. The bluetooth system has been reworked and now features a two part microphone rather than the single in the 2IS. The phone also now accepts 2500 contacts with 4 numbers in each as opposed to 1000 contacts with 3 each!! There is also a transmit volume button that can be controlled by the driver for how loud/soft the person on the other line can hear. The standard audio system is now an 8-speaker system whereas the 2IS was 13 speakers. The big news is the ML which goes from a 14 speaker 300 watt surround to 15 speakers with 835 watt surround. There is now two USB devices in the 3IS vs one, but there is now only 1 12V outlet vs 2 in the 2IS. Reason being is the both USB can charge. The navigation system is no longer HDD but Micro SD. The voice commands are one of the biggest improvements IMO, and they include over 100,000 phrases. You can simply say "Play Pandora" or "Launch Bing" (assuming Enform is running on your phone). The best thing though is the One-shot address entry. Yup all you say is "Enter an address" followed by "ex. 17 Daisy Court, Danville, California" and there it is. No more "After the beep say the state name" "After the beep say the city name etc.." I was disappointed at the Multi-media display. It is 7" but there is also about two inches of black on each side of it. The screen could have been much bigger :/. For 2014 Lexus dropped SiriusXM's services in favor of something better. For all 2013 models, SiriusXM provided radio, sports, stocks, fuel prices, live time traffic and weather. Now SiriusXM only gives us the radio. Sports, stocks and fuel prices are now found in the Enform App Suite with the likes of Bing, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Yelp, Open Table, Movietickets.com and Facebook. The Real-Time Traffic and Weather is subscription free and provided by HD Radio. If your 3IS is not equipped with Navigation don't fret, Digital Traffic and Weather info is still available. Traffic maps of local metro areas show green, yellow and red colors and are updated every 10 minutes, and weather gives current conditions as well as a forecast. Weather is updated every hour. Now those with navigation benefit even more. Same colors for traffic patters apply, but incident reports, Predictive Traffic for 15, 30 and 45 minutes out can help reroute you and use an algorithm based on local speed limits as well as past history of road traffic. Updates are every two minutes. A big reason for the switch from SiriusXM to HD was the number of markets reached and the road network. SiriusXM offers 36K miles of road but that pales in comparison to the 225K miles that HD covers. Coming back to the Navigation, there are three modes for the map. Your standard North up, and car up like the 2IS, but are you ready for this?! 3D buildings!! Yes there is a 3D mode and the screen resolution is better. Thank you Lexus. I managed to set a location and zoomed right onto dodger stadium (I should note they are NOT like google satellite imagery). Another cool thing is about the Remote Touch and the Multi Media display screen. So on other Lexus vehicles remote touch has Menu on the Left a zoom button in the middle and Map (Voice) button on the right. Well the 3IS lost the Map (Voice) and gained Home. This home button is cool. On the screen you can customize the view layout so every time you select home you see Navigation, Climate, Audio etc.. here's the kicker, you can have not two but three organized on the screen! If you have two or three you simply hover your Remote Touch over say Navigation, click on it and it expands to the Navigation screen, or Audio or Climate whatever you clicked on. Again lost of customization in the 3IS. The radio also as a host of new features and tech. If anyone has sampled any 2013 Lexus vehicle other than the GX they have seen the new radio layout. Well the 3IS has your 36 presets however you can customize it to show 6, 12, 18, 24, 30 or 36. A problem with the 13 system is you cannot delete ones stored from the factory you can only override a station with another. This alleviates the problem and also show's "Add new" if an empty slot is available. Even cooler is the Cache Radio. What is that you ask? Well let me tell you. You can now pause Live radio (AM, FM, Satellite) for up to 20 minutes, fast forward, rewind, pause and play. Hence the term "Cache". Also a host of new tech is offered including Lane Departure Alert, Intelligent High Beams, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and finally the latest Pre-Collision System. Oh and the Tire Pressure Monitor system now shows each separate wheel!
I wish I could give my full impression, but without driving it, a key ingredient is missing. Body wise, an Obsidian Black F-Sport 350 would be my choice. And from a technology standpoint I'd be willing to trade my car in for it. The car is not perfect however, things like the lack of a leather option in the F-Sport, power folding mirrors, the cupholder location, and the hard plastics on the door and glove box irk me. Overall, the advancements are great, the only thing lacking a bit more refinement with the materials. The IS won't be for everyone, but from a static view it is very competitive and competent in it's segment. I also learned that the IS currently has the youngest buying age of 3-Series, C-Class, A4 etc. The 3IS is definitely now aimed at a target market willing to give up a few luxury items for an engaging drive full of tech.
New features and recap:
- HID's are now standard (no more halogen)
- LED taillights and DRLs (LED headlight option)
- Smart access no longer has black button, but rather indentation
- More aero
- Spindle grill
- Push to open fuel filler door
- Wheel arches are hemmed (aka rolled/folded)
- Standard 17 inch wheels are 225/45 FRONT AND REAR NON STAGGERED
- Overall length increase 3.6 inches, width by 0.4 inches
- NuLuxe standard, leather optional (not on F-Sport)
- New 60/40 split rear seats
- Rear seat ISO-FIX latch bars
- Customizable home
- Subscription free Real time traffic and weather
- Dual USB
- 835 watt ML audio system
- Improved voice commands
- Driver Mode Select
- F-Sport LFA inspired instrumentation
- Curb weight has increased 26lbs on the IS250 and 66lbs on the IS350
- 8-Speed Auto for all 350's san AWD
- Rear seat side impact airbags brings total to 10
- Adaptive Variable Suspension AVS
- Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS)
- Lane Departure Alert
- Intelligent High Beams
- Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
- Pre Collision System
- New Tire pressure monitoring system
- 3D buildings / map display
- Cache Radio
- One shot address entry
- 2500 phone contacts 4 per
- Predictive traffic
- Realistic Traffic signs
- Visual and Audible traffic detour preview
That's all I can think of for now. Hopefully I've answered some questions about the 3IS and what to look forward too. If I didn't cover it let me know. Below are some of your specific questions
How do the Colors look inside and out:
There was a Matador red on black F-Sport 350 and a Starfire Pearl on parchment/ecru. Both were nice color combinations. We know what SFP and MRM look like, but the black Nuluxe had a nice black sheen to it, and the parchment/ecru gave the cabin a nice airy feel
None. It's gone. Reason was the relocation of the SOS button. I cried fowl and rammed them on a survey. Explaining that the use of sunglasses is a daily thing whereas the use of the SOS pales in comparison
Optional remote start or RES+:
At this time neither is offered. They did not know if it would be available either
Close windows/sunroof with remote:
This feature is not enabled from the factory, but take it to your local Lexus and they can enable the feature via Techstream
Although we didn't get to drive them, we got to turn them on and rev them. At idle you can hear the direct injection or ticking just like the 2IS. In fact I thought it was louder due to the fact that the side cover panels are not offered on the 3IS, just the 2IS
There was a bit of vibration with the rearview mirror with the base turned up. Literally the same mirror from all Lexus models. Granted this was a prototype so the mirror may or may not have been represented as finished
Are not an option at this time. Go to Europe, Japan or somewhere else if you want them :/
F-Sport and power tilt and telescoping steering wheel:
The load in is easier and slightly more spacious. Yes a golf bag will fit
IS-F and IS-C:
Both carry over for the 2014 model year. There was no information, but hints were that they would be 2015 models based off the new chassis at least for the F. The IS-C may be the RC coupe/vert