It feels great to touch this soft pad. It responds to small, gentle movements, so it demands far less physical effort to use this joystick than to use a dial (which is the standard issue on the car), let alone touch a screen. The joystick interface still demands that the driver remove a hand from the steering wheel and glance at the display to navigate the cursor, however, so the setup is no less distracting than other designs.
Complimentary real-time traffic and weather
One of the downsides of car tech is that the connectivity can cost you-either by co-opting your phone's data plan or getting a dedicated plan for the car. Lexus has been kind enough to provide a complimentary subscription for real-time traffic and weather. The Navigation Package also comes with the Lexus Enform system, which includes emergency and safety assistance features, but it's free only for the first year.
Remember that supercar-inspired instrument cluster mentioned earlier? Here it is: a TFT display behind your steering wheel, with a center ring that can move to show different kinds of data onscreen. Below is the view when it's slid to the right, to show mileage and fuel data, as well as infotainment icons.
Push a button, and the ring slides back to the center, changing to more standard driving information.
Yes, it's a small thing, but as electronic displays become more common, the moveable ring is a fun detail that makes this electronic display unique.
As we headed back north to San Francisco, it was my turn to drive. We stopped at one of the many nurseries along Highway 92, because who can resist a greenhouse that advertises 'Carnivorous Plants' with a big, dripping-red-lettered sign?
It was raw and ruthless, completely unlike this carefully conceived and comfortable car, designed for treating rather than eating. From the luxurious leather-topped joystick to the sliding instrument-cluster display, the tech in the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport is a subtle, seamless part of the car's overall experience.
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