IS 300

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2018 Lexus IS 300 Overview

The Lexus IS is a compact luxury sedan with two big names to compare itself to – the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. In most measures, the Lexus is a worthy ride for owners who want a well-appointed sedan but don’t want the maintenance costs of keeping a German car. The bottom of the large IS range starts with the IS 300, which is available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The rear-drive 300 actually used to be called the IS 200t, but now it’s either IS 300 or IS 300 AWD. An F Sport package that livens things up in terms of driving dynamics and styling flair is available for both. Otherwise, there are no updates to report.

The IS 300 still has the 2.0-liter turbo four. The engine has 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and the 8-speed automatic has been criticized for lagging a bit in its shifts. For more nomenclature confusion, the IS 300 AWD not only has all-wheel drive (AWD), it also has a different engine from the regular IS 300. The AWD gets a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 260 hp and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder IS 300 manages 22 mpg city, 32 highway, and 26 combined, while the all-wheel drive V-6 is predictably thirstier at 19, 26, and 22.

IS drivers can switch between Eco, Normal, Snow, and Sport modes, while F Sport models add a Sport+ mode that firms things up even more. F Sport models also get a limited-slip differential. For extra goodies like adaptive dampers, however, drivers will have to step up to the separate IS 350 model.

The quality of the IS’s interior is impressive – as one would expect from Lexus – although the rear seats aren’t exactly cavernous (the IS is shorter than its rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz) and its 10.8 cubic feet of trunk space is about average. Standard equipment includes a sunroof, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless ignition, and a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. Available options include heated and ventilated front seats, power-adjustable steering column, 10.3-inch display screen with navigation, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, upgraded leather seats, wood trim, and a heated steering wheel. F Sport models add handsome aluminum pedals, more heavily bolstered seats, upgraded gauges, and flashier interior trim.

In crash testing, the Lexus IS has gotten five out of five stars overall from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given it mostly top Good scores. Active safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and optional blind-spot monitors.

Updated

Since 2012, Andrew Newton has been writing about cars both old and new. Andrew has been an associate editor at Sport Car Digest as well as a contributor to sites like BoldRide and JamesEdition. He was also the Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA before becoming the Auction Editor at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He currently splits his time behind the wheel between his NA Miata, 1994 Corvette, and Triumph TR6.

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IS 300

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