We’ve driven many flavors of the IS over the past few years. Always surprised and delighted with the chassis, it was time for us to check out the middle of the line IS300 and its 3.5L V6. Coming off of a most recent test of a rear drive IS350, it had a lot to live up to.
The aforementioned V6 is not nearly as potent as its siblings, and even has less torque than the base IS200t. Rated at 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, the IS300 felt sluggish. With the naturally aspirated power up high in the rev range, you had to work for it. Sure, that’s fun in a sportscar, but not everyday traffic. The different tune on this 3.5L V6 has dulled the experience in the power department. This AWD model means the engine is solely mated to a six-speed automatic and that lacks refinement and quick shifting programming, even in F Sport guise.
For 2017 the IS received a facelift with revised front end styling. The F Sport gained the additional wide jowls seen on our tester. Inside, not much has changed. The infotainment is still frustrating to use, clunky, and difficult to navigate, despite the larger screen. The seats are extremely comfortable, and the steering wheel and materials are all of high quality. The Mark Levinson audio is always a welcome addition as well.
The sole bright spot is the bright spot of the entire IS model line. The chassis and feel are fantastic. The steering is direct, the suspension is communicative of applicable road surfaces, and the car just handles predictably as a result. It is a true joy to hustle through turns and could easily outperform almost everything in the segment save perhaps the Alfa Romeo Giulia or Cadillac ATS.
For us, the brilliant drive was not enough to save the aging IS in our eyes. The IS350 is definitely the one to go for if you’re looking for a fun experience. The IS300 stuck in the middle of the enjoyable IS350 and a competently efficient IS250, and it is worse off for it. Lacking the luster required for the middle child to succeed, the IS300 fades into ambiguity.
|2017 Lexus IS300 AWD
|F Sport Package||$3,145|
|Navigation System/Mark Levinson Audio System||$2,835|
|Blind Spot Monitor w/ Rear Cross-Traffic Alert||$600|
|F Sport Perforated Leather Heated Steering Wheel||$150|
|Illuminated Door Sills||$425|
|All Weather Floor Mats||$110|
|Trunk Mat/Cargo Net/Wheel Locks/Key Gloves||$255|
|Rear Lip Spoiler||$389|
|As Tested MSRP||$49,084|
Just Right: 2014 Lexus IS350
Even Better: 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport
Categories: Driven, Lexus, Scott Villeneuve
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