Few things can beat driving around in the late spring and early summer in a hot new convertible. When it’s also luxurious and fun to drive, those are bonuses. This describes the 2014 Lexus IS350 Convertible. It’s hot, fun, and luxurious. The F-Sport moniker is just the a la mode.

2014 Lexus IS350 Convertible - top down 1 - AOA1200px

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Lexus
  • Year, Model: 2014 IS350 F-Sport Convertible
  • Class: 2-door sport convertible (hard top)
  • Powertrain: 3.5L V6, 6spd auto
  • Base Price: $46,990
  • MSRP as tested: $54,535
  • Availability: Now

Overview

Convertibles are usually reserved for those who live in warm climates and for those who are overly-optimistic about their actual climate. For those less optimistic and perhaps a bit more practical minded, there’s the hardtop option. “Practical” is a relative term, of course. We are talking about a convertible sports coupe here.

Despite what the television tells us, the vast majority of people do not actually live in Southern California. Most convertibles sold in this country are not actually sold there either. Heck, the world’s largest convertible car buyer’s market is actually England, which we all know has weather similar to that found in Seattle, but without the coffee or Bill Gates.

Living in Wyoming, I can attest to the power of optimism when it comes to weather. People joke about the wind here. A lot. We chuckle about sudden winter storms decimating the landscape. One of my neighbors has an old tire on a post with “Nude Beach” painted on it. Apparently, being able to selectively remember weather patterns and realities is a survival instinct that many humans have honed over the generations.

So imagine my delight when I received a 2014 Lexus IS350 F-Sport Convertible as a press loan vehicle for a week just before the dawn of summer. I’m getting another sunburn right now just remembering the feeling.

2014 Lexus IS350 F-Sport Convertible - top up 1 - AOA1200px

Exterior Look of the 2014 IS350 Convertible

From the outside looking in, the 2014 IS350 F-Sport Convertible is only disappointing in one way: you aren’t in the car. It is a great-looking convertible with the top up or down, thanks to a simple 1:1:1 balance of proportion.

The rounded nose slopes into a fast-paced hood that comes to a short and rakish windscreen. The fenders have only the smallest amount of flair coming up from the large but well-tapered headlamps. Beautiful wheels ride inside the fenders and the small F-Sport badge finishes before the door.

The passenger’s compartment is small, thanks to the 2+2 layout, and with the roof up, has a very rounded, finished look. When the top is down, the compartment looks larger thanks to the rear roll bars behind the back seat headrests and a black wind/water cap that folds out when the roof is under the deck.

The rear deck is large in order to accommodate the roof folding into it, but the rear axle being pushed back under it softens that appearance of length and the lines created for the dual-opening trunk (forward for access to luggage, backward for the roof to fold in) give a more dynamic feel to the rear end.

It’s a great-looking car when seen as one piece rather than individual components.

IS350 C F-Sport Interior

Inside, the 2014 Lexus IS350 Convertible is exactly what you’d expect from Lexus. Toyota’s premium brand knows how to make a comfortable, well-configured interior space with quality components. Seating is excellent, the colors are subtle and nicely toned, and driver’s controls are well-positioned.

My interior video should give a better idea of what it’s like in the IS350 Convertible.

There are a handful of things that differ in this IS350 F-Sport from the sedan version, which you’ll see in the above video. These are largely changes in function, since the convertible does not have a drive mode selector and adds buttons to control the roof’s operation as well as show how far along the top opening and closing is going. You’ll see that operation in the beginning of the above video.

The roof, for reference, takes about ten seconds to open or close.

Most of the package options for upgrade are for the interior of the IS350 C. The Luxury package adds bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, genuine (and beautiful) wood trim, and more. The Navigation package adds what you expect it to add given the name while the F-Sport package adds 18-inch alloy wheels (17 is standard), shift paddles, aluminum scuff plates, a modified sport grille, heated and ventilated front seats, leather, and more.

2014 Lexus IS350 Convertible -interior - AOA1200px

Under the the hood of the

2014 Lexus IS350 Convertible

The 2014 IS350 model line utilizes a 3.5-liter V6 that performs very well in both the sedan and convertible. It produces 306 horsepower, 277 pound-feet of torque and, in the convertible, sends all of that through a six-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. Fuel economy in the convertible is 22 mpg combined (19 city, 27 highway) per the EPA. We saw close to that in our week-long test despite poor accelerator habits on our part.

Some automotive outlets are giving the 2014 IS350 F-Sport Convertible a 0-60 time of about six seconds. We were slightly above that, closer to 6.5 and 7 in our tests, but our “freeway on-ramp merge” test gave it a solid 100-102 mph (slower with automatic trans, faster manually shifting). That test, of course, involves a not-quite-quarter-mile run on a 3-percent grade with one slight curve at its center, starting the car from 0 RPM and 0 MPH.

On the road with the top up and down

This being a convertible, driving around with the top down seems to be the preference. We certainly found it to be so. Even at freeway speeds, with the windows up, the cabin is much quieter than expected and far less turbulent than many would expect. With the top up, it’s very quiet thanks to that hard-top with its solid anchoring.

The road handling and feel in the IS350 F-Sport is very good. Suspension is stiff, as befits a sports car, but soft enough that it remains comfortable to drive both in town and on the highway. Die-hard sports car fans may think the suspension is too “cushy,” but they are not the IS350 C’s intended market.

Compared to the sedan version of the IS350 F-Sport (review coming soon), though, the convertible is not as road-hugging or speedy. The weight difference between the two is negligible (about 180 pounds, the convertible being heavier), so it’s likely the lack of drive mode control that is creating the change. It’s an interesting difference that, frankly, probably only matters to journalists who’ve driven both vehicles. Most buyer swill decide based mostly on practicality versus fun rather than small differences in handling and performance.

Around town, the IS350 Convertible is a great little goer and eye-catching ride. On a bright spring day, the jealousy from other drivers is often palpable as you cruise with the top down and hair in the wind. The versatility of having the hard top for inclement weather is a big plus as well.

2014 Lexus IS350 F-Sport Convertible - top down 2 - AOA1200px

Competition

The 2014 Lexus IS350 Convertible competes with several entry-level luxury sports coupes and convertibles like the BMW 4-Series and the Infiniti Q60 (reviewed here). Perhaps the Audi A5 is also a competitor, though with just four cylinders and only a soft-top option, it’s a stretch. The 4-Series is likely the only real contender facing off squarely with the IS350 F-Sport Convertible and the match is close, with most likely choosing based on nameplate and price tag.

Strong Points

A very likable car with plenty of fun and just enough practicality to make it a great choice for the convertible buyer.

Far more affordable than expected, at about $55.4k after delivery as we drove it.

Weaknesses

Slow top opening and closing process and it can only be done when the car is stopped and in Park. We’d like to see a low-speed option so the roof can be closed as you pull into the driveway or parking space. A one-touch button would also be convenient.

Not as sporty in speed and handling as some competition, which may or may not be a weak point depending on what you expect out of a luxury sports convertible like this.

Conclusions

No matter how you slice it, owning a convertible in good weather is a great thing and one of life’s joys. When the weather turns sour, that’s not always the case, but with the 2014 IS350 Convertible, the hard top makes up for most of that down-side. This is a fun, sporty, luxurious little sport coupe convertible that is priced right.

Test Period Length and Limitations
We test drove the IS350 C for about a week as a press loan from the manufacturer. A total of 335 miles were put on the car in both sunshine and rain on both highways and freeways as well as in the city and in town.

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.

6 thoughts on “2014 Lexus IS350 Convertible – summertime hotness”

  1. Top notch review. As an owner of this model I can say you are spot-on. Mine is a 2010 and does have a “Snow” mode and also a “Sport Mode.” Though they are not as elaborate as the drive mode selections on the new sedan. In Sport it changed the car’s character mainly by changing the transmission’s settings to aggressive. One thing I think would be super cool is a button on the remote that would open the top remotely. Valet drives up, hit the button, date impressed, drive home topless.

  2. Ya, they nixed the mode selection somewhere between 2013 and 2014 apparently. It’s in all the interior videos for the 2013 model, I noted, and may still be there in the IS250. I won’t talk about topless dates. 🙂

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