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June 24, 2013

Driving the 2014 Lexus IS from The Speedway to a Farm-To-Table Dinner

Lexus IS at Rockingham North CarolinaLexus launched its 2014 IS sports sedan at the notorious “Rock” (Rockingham Speedway) outside of Raleigh/ Durham, North Carolina. The track opened as a flat, one-mile oval in 1965. It has since changed its length, shape, and altitude and has hosted two NASCAR Cup Series races, last known as the Subway 400 (1966–2004) and a significant list of other races.  Used as the spot for movies and TV filming, the track is currently home to Fast Track High Performance Driving School and is utilized extensively for NASCAR testing. 

The Lexus event was fashioned by We Came In Peace, a creative studio based in Manhattan.
“Our goal is to create unforgettable experiences that bring the imagined to life,” noted Andrew Stevens, one of the company’s founders.

Notably, a hip direction for Lexus to take. As Owen Peacock, Lexus National Product Marketing Manager, explained, “At Lexus we've become obsessed with design.”

It’s all in the details. We Came in Peace developed a narrative that embodied Lexus’ core values—luxury, glamour, speed, superb craftsmanship and a sense of history.

Appropriately, we stayed at the charming Pinehurst Resort and Golf Course, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, architect of New York's Central Park. The 2,000-acre resort, established in 1895, is known as the seat of American golf. Pinehurst has hosted more single golf championships than any other site in America, including the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

To bring home the idea of laid-back Southern comfort, we enjoyed a family style dinner at Shady Wagon Farm and were entertained by Deep Chatham, a young local band spinning out melodies old and new.

After our farm-to-table dinner, we sat outside on leather couches crafted by Jerry Strickland, owner of COCOCO, the Comfortable Couch Company, and enjoyed hearing about local Carolina crafts given by Strickland along with Roy Underhill, Master Woodworker and star of Woodwright’s Shop on PBS and Ben Owen III from Pottery Live! with Ben Owen lll also on PBS.

Oh, and even the treats were curated. Our gift basket was blooming with indigenous fare including: Chapel Hill Toffee, Roots and Branches Artisan Crackers, and Cheerwine Soft Drinks (around since 1917) along with wine from Francis Ford Coppola.


photo by Raymond Goodman
Deep Chatham

What: The third-generation 2014 IS sport sedan.

On the surface: The front face of the IS is punctuated by a new spindle grille (3-D design with chrome-plated frame and darker gray insert) and separated LED daytime running lights. The result is a vehicle that embodies a strong sense of sophistication. The wheelbase of the 2014 IS has been increased by nearly three inches and width has been augmented by almost half an inch to give it a more grounded, aggressive look.

Inside story: The new driver-centric cockpit was inspired by Lexus’ super car, the LFA. On the practical side, rear seat room has been enhanced by 1.6 inches and luggage capacity has also been improved. The interior is padded with soft touch finishes. The dual-zone climate control system uses touch-sensitive temperature switches and the IS comes standard with a high-resolution Lexus Display Audio. The navigation system is operated by remote touch interface, which allows control of the climate, audio, phone and more.

And Lexus goes one step further with five interior colors: Black, Light Gray, Parchment, Flaxen and Rioja Red (exclusive to F SPORT).

The available Mark Levinson Premium Surround System comes with 15 speakers and 835 watts.

photo by Raymond Goodman
Pottery Live! at Lexus IS event

The cruise:  Of course, you can’t go wrong when you test the IS on a track. Bottom line, we fell in love with the vehicle and spent hours trying out every variation of the IS. Of course, the SPORT model received best in show. And put to the test, this year’s IS showed significant improvement compared to the 2013 model.

Two IS models are available for 2014. The IS 250 is powered by a 2.5- liter V6 providing 204 hp and 185 lb.-ft. torque matched to a six-speed electronically controlled transmission.

The IS 350 gets a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 306 hp and 277 lb.-ft. torque and an eight-speed, sport direct shift automatic transmission. This transmission features paddle shifters and the G-force Artificial Intelligence system, which automatically selects the optimum gear and downshift pattern in response to G-force.

The IS 250 and IS 350 feature ECO, NORMAL and SPORT modes. The IS 350 F SPORT adds in SPORT S+. In addition, AWD models also feature a SNOW mode.

0-60: IS 250 7.7 seconds, IS 250 AWD 8.3 seconds, IS 350 5.6 seconds, IS 350 AWD 5.7 seconds.



photo by Raymond Goodman
The Pinehurst Resort in NC

Price:  IS 250: starting MSRP of $35,950 for RWD and $38,485 for AWD.   IS 350: starting MSRP of $39,465 for RWD and $41,700 for AWD. 

To note: The base price for the 2014 IS 350 is 2.1% lower than the model it replaces. In all, over $1,400 in previously optional equipment has been made standard for the 2014 IS. 
The 2014 IS will be equipped with standard features such as HID headlamps, L-shaped LED daytime running lights, Drive Mode Select, paddle shifters, a dual zone climate control system, a next-generation Remote Touch Interface, Display Audio, a color 4.2 inch multi-information display and 10 airbags.  The new multimedia system delivers real-time traffic and weather information without a subscription.



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