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Ownership and Daily Driver Comparison: IS 350 F-Sport AWD vs IS 350 F-Sport RWD

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Old 02-19-14, 01:28 PM   #1
carderoni
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Default Ownership and Daily Driver Comparison: IS 350 F-Sport AWD vs IS 350 F-Sport RWD

Due to some unfortunate circumstances (chronicled here) it seems I might be the first person to own both versions of the 2014 IS 350 F-Sport: the all wheel drive rendition with the proven, familiar 6 speed and its rear wheel drive sibling touting the new, IS-F derived 8 speed.

Some have suggested that I use this opportunity to put together a real world, regular Joe comparison - so here it is! I had the pleasure of driving just over 5,000 miles in my Ultra White all wheel drive model and, as of last night, I've started all over again with a rear wheel drive version dressed in Silver Lining Metallic.

I'm hoping that this thread will grow to be like an interactive version of Motortrend's long term reviews, with periodic updates and anecdotes. If you have any questions or ideas on how to make this more informative to everybody please let me know. For now I'm going to start things off by making individual posts dedicated to specific comparisons - this should make it easier to use this thread as a handy reference.


Exterior Color

The Front
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The Rear
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2014 IS 350 F-Sport RWD - Silver Lining Metallic/Black
2014 IS 350 F-Sport AWD - Ultra White/Black - R.I.P.
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Old 02-19-14, 01:29 PM   #2
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Stickers and Specs
These two cars are about as identical as they come, save the obvious color and drivetrain layouts. For my second IS I wanted the exact same options as the first - no need for Mark Levinson or the kinda-sorta-funky VGRS system. NAV, Blind Spot, and an accessories package work for me.

Ultra White/Black AWD
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Silver Lining Metallic/Black RWD
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The Differences
  • $1,526.00
  • Tire sizes are identical, but the AWD model rides on all seasons while the RWD version gets summers
  • Door edge guards on the RWD model (an option I was not aware of until just now)
  • $1,526.00 total
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Old 02-19-14, 01:33 PM   #3
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Transmission and Gearing
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The Differences
The 8 speed has much shorter gearing up and down the line. I'm still breaking the car in, so I'm being pretty gentle with the throttle but I can say that, from a stop in normal mode under normal driving conditions, the throttle does feel much more responsive in the rear wheel drive model.

In addition to that, the 8 speed transmission appears to make full use of its extra two gears, shifting into 4th and 5th gears at lower speeds than the 6 speed box in the AWD model.

Once I've got about 1,000 miles or so on it I'll start letting things fly and detail how the transmissions compare in Sport and Sport+ modes and how they react to manual shifting.
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Old 02-19-14, 01:38 PM   #4
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One thing some people have complained about is the odd hump in the driver's foot well on the AWD model. This is, I assume, due to the center differential in the all wheel drive system. It's missing in the rear wheel drive version, of course, but I can't say it ever got in my way. Sitting in both cars feels the same to me.

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Old 02-19-14, 03:24 PM   #5
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Thank you! The Silver Lining Metallic/Black looks great.
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Old 02-19-14, 04:12 PM   #6
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Yay, I'm so glad that you decided to start this thread carderoni This should provide a great comparison of the two models and I'm sure it may help those who are indecisive about whether to go with the AWD or RWD.

I'm greatly interested in hearing more about the transmission (once you get more mileage on the RWD) and also if you could dwell into turning, road grip (over various terrain), tire differences (traction/noise/vibration to the steering wheel if any/etc).

Not sure if you had a chance to use paddle shifters much on the AWD, but did that car rev match as you shifted into lower gears? If the rev matching any smoother on the RWD? Just curious about general things such as this.

Subscribed to this topic, so I hope that you update it in the future! All the best. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts & opinions on these beautiful vehicles.

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Old 02-19-14, 05:44 PM   #7
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Interesting. That silver makes the IS look quite vicious although I was always a big fan of the ultra white.
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Old 02-20-14, 06:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Im2bz2p345 View Post
Not sure if you had a chance to use paddle shifters much on the AWD, but did that car rev match as you shifted into lower gears? If the rev matching any smoother on the RWD? Just curious about general things such as this.
~ Im2bz2p345
Yes, from what I understand about rev matching in automatic transmissions, the 6 speed did rev match when shifting manually. I won't be able to really compare it to the 8 speed until I've put a few hundred miles on this car, but there are some clear differences in shift points and shift behavior that I'll detail in a later post.
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Old 02-20-14, 08:40 AM   #9
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Interested to follow this.

However, tire sizes shouldn't be identical. As far as I know, RWD models have a wider rear set than front whereas AWD models have the same size all around. Or did you work something with the dealership to change them out?
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Old 02-20-14, 08:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGard18 View Post
Interested to follow this.

However, tire sizes shouldn't be identical. As far as I know, RWD models have a wider rear set than front whereas AWD models have the same size all around. Or did you work something with the dealership to change them out?
AWD and RWD do indeed have the same size tires. I have 225/40R18 (front), 255/35R18 (rear) on my AWD.
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Old 02-20-14, 08:54 AM   #11
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Oh, very cool. Thanks. I could have sworn AWD was same size all around. Not that it matters to me, but I've learned something. heh
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Old 02-20-14, 01:09 PM   #12
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Just went outside and confirmed the tire sizes are indeed the same.
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Old 02-20-14, 01:56 PM   #13
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i recall the bump near the accelerator being in the RWD as well. i'll take a look when i get off of work in an hour or two.
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Old 02-20-14, 02:47 PM   #14
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i recall the bump near the accelerator being in the RWD as well. i'll take a look when i get off of work in an hour or two.
Good point - confirmed, there is a mild (less than half inch) hump right in front of the accelerator pedal. Pretty certain this is NOT there on the AWD model. I drive without a right shoe on so it's probably more noticeable to me than others.

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Old 02-21-14, 08:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carderoni View Post
Good point - confirmed, there is a mild (less than half inch) hump right in front of the accelerator pedal. Pretty certain this is NOT there on the AWD model. I drive without a right shoe on so it's probably more noticeable to me than others.
If you are talking about the black plastic piece immediately in front of the gas pedal, it is also on the AWD models.
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