Let's cite one good thing about the economic shakeup of the past five years: It chased the me-toos out of the luxury SUV game. Manufacturers who had no business blinging up enclosed trucks and selling them for inflated prices found the well running dry fast. The action in luxury sport-utes returned to those who could play the game without breaking a sweat...the buyers who had significant bank, and the manufacturers who could deliver a high-quality product that justifies the price.
The very best cars are works of art. It is visual interest, after all, that is the first connection most people make with an automobile. Even those who do not consider themselves to be "car people" will usually admit that the car they are driving was chosen mostly because of how it looks. In fact, that may be more important to them than it is to enthusiasts, who may be willing to overlook aesthetics in favor of the driving experience. Take BMW, which certainly has an identifiable look, but hardly an exciting one in recent years. Yet they sell because of performance.
A car that can provide visual interest and excitement before it is even driven, and then back that up once in motion is a powerful combination. And after years of building strength upon strength--first handling, then engine power, now styling--the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport appears to have reached that balance.
Hard to believe that it's been four model years (2011, 2012, 2013 and now 2014) since the introduction of the current-generation Kia Optima. Long a blandly-styled staple of rental fleets, the sleek, slick and super-sized new Optima knocked a lot of peoples' socks off and turned up the volume of the increasingly common question "No, seriously...that's a Kia?"