Last week, I had the chance to try out the new generation of Lexus IS sedans.
I was impressed by the look of the cars and their overall performance, but two things really struck me: One feature that is glorious, and another that’s just terrible.
First, the good.
In all three cars I tested — the IS250, IS350, and the powerful F Sport version of each — the seats were the most comfortable ones I’ve ever felt. Just what sets them apart is hard to pinpoint, but Car and Driver managed to put it into words in its recent Comparo issue, in which it tested the IS350 F Sport:
Its front seats are an ergonomic feat, perfectly cupped and padded with no tangible break between back and bottom cushions, just one immaculate sweep of support from shoulders to thighs.
The seat may seem unimportant compared to the engine or the car’s exterior, but it’s not: It’s where the driver must sit every time he gets behind the wheel, and if it’s uncomfortable, it really stinks.
And now, the bad.
Just as the seat is wonderful, the infotainment system is abominable. It has all the capability expected in a luxury car (satellite radio, navigation, traffic alerts, etc.), but it’s nearly impossible to navigate.
Instead of a scroll wheel or a touch screen, the Lexus IS sedans have a device that’s somewhere between a mouse and a joystick. That seems like a reasonable idea. We use computer mice on a regular basis, without issue.
But this one just doesn’t work well. It feels unnatural, and it’s hard to get it to point exactly where you want.
While it can be avoided using buttons on the steering wheel, the centre console is a core part of the car’s user experience. It should be much, much better than this.
Another oversight by Lexus in this area: There’s no handy place to put your phone while driving.
Here’s the seat in the 2014 IS250:
The centre console:
And a closer look at the mouse:
Disclosure: Lexus paid for our travel and lodging expenses to drive the IS
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