2018 Lexus IS 300
The Lexus IS 200t is now the IS 300, but it doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s a fun, sporty sedan with a first-class cabin and a big heart. Along with its sibling – the IS 350 – the IS 300 is one of the most fun vehicles in the Lexus lineup.
The IS family was first introduced way back in 2001, offering remarkable quickness and strong performance. Buyers can choose from three strong engines in the IS lineup. The rear-drive IS 300 features a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that develops 241 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The IS 300 AWD model has a 3.5-liter V6 that cranks out 260 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.
The granddaddy is in the in the IS 350, a 3.5-liter V6 with 311 horses and 280 lb.-ft. of twisting torque.
My test car had the turbo-4, and it delivered a tight, fun driving experience. I didn’t miss the bigger power from the V6s; this little turbo gets the job done!
A drive mode selector made it easy to match the car to driving conditions: ECO, Normal, Snow and Sport. While Texas doesn’t have much need for the snow mode this time of year, I made good use of the other three driving modes.
Lexus ups the ante with a $3,195 F SPORT package, which adds a special bumper and grille, 18-inch wheels, heated and ventilated seats, silver performance trim, aluminum pedals and a specially tuned F SPORT suspension.
I love the new look of the IS 300, which was redesigned in 2017. The standard LED headlamps are super cool, and there are large air intakes in the front bumper.
I put the IS through its paces on crowded Dallas streets, and the sedan did not disappoint. It stayed firm and flat in hard corners and had precise, linear steering.
Inside the cabin were 10-way adjustable power front sport seats trimmed in NuLuxe, high-efficiency air conditioning (which IS needed in Dallas this time of year), a power moonroof and SmartAcess with pushbutton start. The cabin is roomy enough in front for two, but the rear seats can get cramped.
The 2018 model now has adaptive front lighting and a standard backup camera. Also standard is Lexus’ Enform Safety Connect and Enform Service Connect, both complimentary for 10 years.
With 10 standard airbags, the IS 300 is a super safe car, earning five out of five stars in the government’s crash tests. The insurance industry also likes the IS 300 safety performance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2018 IS 300 a “Top Safety Pick” award with top scores of “good” in every category except headlights, where the IS scores “acceptable.”
Two multimedia systems are offered in the IS: a standard high-resolution Lexus Display Audio with a 7-inch screen and 8-speakers, or the optional navigation system, which features a new 10.3-inch screen. This screen offers a larger and clearer image of the various functions of the multimedia and Enform systems. Available in conjunction with the navigation system, a Mark Levinson Premium Surround System delivers amazing sound with 835 watts powering 15 speakers.
The navigation system is governed via the second-generation Lexus Remote Touch Interface control device. The RTI is the go-to control for audio, driver’s phone and more. “Enter” buttons on either side of the RTI on the center console help make the system easier to use, as does a larger leather-wrapped palm rest.
So how much does all this Lexus luxuriousness cost? The MSRP on my test car was $38,210, but with options like the F SPORT package, navigation, Mark Levinson sound, adaptive front lighting, a power rear sunshade and more, the bottom line was $45,400 plus freight.
About Tabatha Chovanetz
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