Summertime fun in the 2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD

Experienced by Adrian McQueen
Photos by Adrenaline Lifestyles

What a pleasure it was to get behind the wheel of the 2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD sedan. Pulling up to my driveway and seeing the Eminent White Pearl Lexus was an electrifying sight. Lexus states that the Eminent White Pearl is inspired by the snow-covered hills in Hokkaido. This is my favorite color that Lexus offers. I couldn’t wait to get out on the road to enjoy it.

The Lexus IS line has been sold by Lexus since 1999 and was originally sold under the Toyota Altezza nameplate in Japan. It was introduced to the market as an entry-level sport model as an inline powered v6, only available with the five-speed automatic transmission with the five-speed manual being made available in the US in 2001. The IS designation stands for Intelligent Sport. The Lexus IS line has come a long way over the years.

Upon first look, my eyes locked in on the Lexus spindle grille that is prominent and nestled between the redesigned headlight design, that comes with standard LEDs. I love the car’s sporty, sleek and sloping look. The new tailpipes help amplify the new rear design as well. The model that I tested sat on 18-inch mesh alloy wheels in 225/40 front and 255/35 rear tires. This replaces the standard 17-inch wheel. Yes, it is only an inch difference, but I feel as if they don’t make the car “pop” as it should.

Lexus is known to have an origami-inspired multi-angle interior design that is unique and shows off the brands appeal. The IS 300 not very spacious inside but I did not feel cramped. It can comfortably seat five people with good legroom. There are eight-way powered front sport seats with vertically powered headrests and powered driver’s lumbar support, a powered moonroof and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. The IS 300 has high-quality materials throughout the car such as the gorgeous new laminated wood inlays, NuLuxe upholstery, stainless steel scuff plates, and applied metallic accents. The car seat connectors were easy to find and reach, as I needed to use them with installing my daughters’ car seat. The trunk space was a bit small and would have proved difficult for a family road trip, but it was great for quick shopping trips and running errands.

I was fortunate enough to receive the model that was upgraded from the standard 7.0-inch screen to the 10.3-inch screen thanks to the addition of a Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package. This package comes with navigation, a 17 speaker Mark Levinson 5.1 surround sound audio system, the Enform Destination Assist and Enform App Suite, enhanced voice activation, Bluetooth and Remote Touch Interface. The infotainment screen is vivid and easy to see. The Remote Touch Controller takes a bit of getting used to, but efficient once you get the hang of it. Treat it like a computer mouse or joystick. Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is not offered in the IS. This is not a deal breaker, but it does raise eyebrows being that most of the competitors do., Enform is offered, which is the Lexus version of Toyota’s Entune. It connects to your smartphone much easier than Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, comes with a lot of apps and functions, but it still has some tweaking to do.

The Premium package came with my tested IS 300, which added heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive cornering headlamps, heatable steering wheel rim and a powered rear sunshade. The Comfort package was added as well and came with rain-sensing wipers, a powered steering column, auto-dimming side mirrors with memory, driver’s seat memory, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

The IS 300 model uses a 3.5-liter V6 – turbo-four, making 260 horsepower at 236 lb-ft. The engine gets direct injection and Lexus’ Dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i). I felt a smooth and premium experience in the IS 300 AWD. It is a sporty sedan that’s fun to zoom around town in, as well as hug tight corners that are outside of the city. The gas mileage on the IS 300 AWD is not that great in comparison to the other cars in its class. The model tested gets 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The Lexus IS has a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The Lexus IS 300 earned five out of five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It comes with safety features such as Air bags throughout the vehicle, plus a knee airbag for both front occupants and rear side-thorax airbags. Also added is the Lexus Safety System+ suite of advanced driver assistance systems, which adds a Pre-Collision System featuring forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

I enjoyed my time with the IS 300, taking it to car shows, social events and my usual daily duties. The 2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD has a quality smooth ride, low cabin noise, delivers strong performance, impressive comfort, good quality, a wide assortment of features, a fairly long list of advanced safety systems, better than average expected reliability and it comes at a reasonable value. My model tested came in at $46,625.00. In the compact luxury sedan segment, the Lexus IS 300 goes up against the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, Jaguar XE, Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW 3 Series and the Tesla Model 3. I definitely feel that it is one of the better choices in its class.


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