Saturday Road Test – Lexus IS300 AWD


Sorry To See This One Go

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – John Denver once sang, “Gee, it’s good to be back home again.”

But not this time. I was disappointed that a day long drive was over because the IS300 just spent several hours spoiling me.
The 10-way adjustable leather clad heated and cooled bucket style driver’s seat coddled me with only a couple of adjustments of the lumbar support. (The front passenger seat is 8-ways adjustable).

And oh my, the Mark Levinson audio system was spectacular in its sound reproduction. Seventeen speakers and 835 watts of power will do that.

It is offered only in the Navigation package, ($2,835), and is well worth the money. Treat your ears and plug in your favorite music!
That package also adds a 10.3 inch infotainment screen with voice command, up from the standard 7 inch offering.

You might have to explain to younger passengers that the round thing in the center dash is an analog clock. A rather nice touch I would say.

Two adults should find comfort in the 60-40 rear seats that also fold for additional cargo space, not a bad addition considering the smallish 10.8 cubic foot trunk.

Flexibility is the word for entering and exiting the IS with its rather low roof. The interior was nicely trimmed and materials were in line with the asking price, yet the hard black plastic topping the center console looked out of place.

The Lexus mouse like controller for operating the infotainment system was hyperactive. It was easy to sail right past the selection you wanted on the screen, even if those selections were being made while the car was parked.

Adding to the joy of the drive was the smooth as silk V6. A 3.5-liter with 260 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 236 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm. The redline came at 6,600 rpm. Lexus claims a 0-60 in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 130 for the AWD model. It feels faster than that.

Matched to a fast acting 6-speed automatic with paddle shifts the IS always delivered plenty of power for highway merging, passing and topping our test mountains.
Premium fuel is recommended with an EPA rating of 19 mpg city, 26 highway for a combined 22. I came in at 23.7 mpg.

Looking ahead to the winter, (after all there are only five months of shopping days until Christmas), the all-wheel drive system can vary front to rear torque distribution from 50/50 to as much as 30/70.

All IS sedans feature ECO, NORMAL, SNOW and SPORT modes. Since it is July, I selected SPORT the most.

Weather sealing, something not normally mentioned here, got quite a work out during the test week with the greater Washington, D.C. area receiving record amounts of rainfall, most of it coming in monsoon like short lived downpours. The IS remained bone dry.

A sign at a nearby church is offering “ark building” classes!

Bottom line.

The IS300 is a nice blend of power, handling and luxury that made for a delightful week of driving. It boasts a long list of standard equipment, and allow me to recommend the Comfort Package and the aforementioned Navi Package.
Prices start at $38,210 for the rear wheel drive 4-cylinder model, and $40,660 for an IS with all-wheel drive and the six.

The test car came with $5,270 worth of options and with transportation figured in the bottom line price came to $46,625.
Factoid:

You might wonder how to select the intermittent windshield wipers. You push the “Auto” button at the end of the right side of the steering wheel stalk as opposed to moving the lever up and down.

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