Toyota Motor Corp. is looking to bring more style and muscle to the entry level luxury car market with the 2014 Lexus IS. To show off the vehicle’s performance, Lexus set up a test drive at the legendary Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina.

The 2014 Lexus IS is meant to serve as a gateway to the luxury market, and Lexus is using it to target young buyers looking to upgrade to their first luxury vehicle -- or buy their first car: The 2014 Lexus IS may be the first luxury car aimed at general consumers. Toyota hopes that once consumers own their first entry-level Lexus, it won't be the last Lexus they buy.

The exterior of the 2014 Lexus IS is designed to look “aggressive.” The front of the car angles inward, while the “spindle” front grille projects outward, giving the car plenty of curves and stylish contours. But the car is about more than just is looks; it comes with many performance and technology options for young consumers who want a little more from their vehicle than the base model.

The interior of the 2014 Lexus IS aims to bring the driver closer to the tech experience -- and the road. Compared to the 2013 Lexus IS, the new vehicle has the driver sit lower, with a sight line that’s almost level with the road. This change gives the driver more headroom without making him feel like he has to climb into or out of the vehicle. For the F Sport package, drivers are given sport seats that reduce the amount of shifting while in the vehicle. The longer wheelbase, increased by 2.7 inches, provides plenty of leg room.

The seven-inch touchscreen that drivers use to control the various features of the 2014 Lexus IS is easy to read, but may be a bit disappointing. The touchscreen can be customized as a split-screen display or a three-panel display, based on a driver’s preference.

2014 Lexus IS The 2014 Lexus IS at Rockingham Speedway. Photo: IBTimes/Charles Poladian

Lexus provides HD radio with traffic reports and weather as a standard feature, including an 8-speaker system. Upgrades to the tech package include the Navigation system with Lexus’ Enform suite of apps. Other optional features include a back-up camera, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, dynamic radar cruise control and lane departure warning. For those who find the 2014 Lexus IS base model a bit lacking, Lexus has tried to make the option to upgrade more affordable. For example, the company was quick to point out that the dynamic radar cruise control with the pre-collision detection option is priced $500 lower than it was on the 2013 option.

At Rockingham Speedway, the difference between the 2013 Lexus IS and the 2014 Lexus IS was immediately noticeable. The handling of the 2014 Lexus IS lives up to the “fun to drive” motto as the car handled tight corners and the open road with ease. The 2014 Lexus IS has three different driving modes via the Drive Mode Select system. Based on your preference for performance, handling or gas mileage, the Drive Mode Select can be set to Normal, Sport or Eco, with an addition Sport + option as part of the F Sport Package.  

While some of the tech features may not come with the base model, which lists at $35,950 for the 2014 Lexus IS 250 RWD, there is plenty to like about the vehicle. At Rockingham, the 2014 Lexus IS handled well and offered plenty of power when pushed. A ride through North Carolina was equally enjoyable as the car easily transitioned into a trustworthy sedan. But for the young consumer looking to combine fun and style, the 2014 Lexus IS is a car you can show off to friends.