2002 Lexus IS 300 Reviews

2002 IS 300 New Car Test Drive


When the Lexus IS 300 sedan was introduced as a 2001 model, it became the first real sports sedan in the Lexus fleet. Targeted toward a younger audience, this sporty car with slick skin and high-tech appointments carries the Lexus badge that's normally associated with a luxurious ride, but it behaves like a road-hugging German touring car. With rear-wheel drive, best-in-class horsepower, and five-speed automatic with manual shifting, it offers a compelling alternative to the benchmark BMW 3 Series. 

For 2002, the IS 300 SportCross has been added to the line. It's a five-door hatchback, intended for that same young audience but broadening to include jocks in addition to well-heeled geeks and gearheads. Lexus says the SportCross appeals to a 'much younger' crowd, and the company jumps through hoops to avoid the words 'five-door' or 'hatchback' because those words suggest entry level. So the SportCross is officially a 4+1-door. Fortunately, the car isn't as awkward as its tag. In fact, it is anything but awkward. 

The IS 300 uses Lexus's sophisticated, 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine, renowned for its smoothness. It produces 215 horsepower on recommended 91-octane fuel. Like the IS 300 sedan, the SportCross uses a five-speed manual automatic transmission with racy shifting via buttons on the steering wheel in the manual mode. 

Also new for 2002, is a five-speed manual gearbox for the sedan. 


For 2002, the IS 300 sedan with the five-speed E-shift automatic retails for $30,805, with front side-curtain airbags added as standard equipment. 

The SportCross starts at $32,305 for that same level of standard equipment, and features slightly wider rear tires on half-inch wider rims, and a sturdy rear window washer/wiper. 

Major options for all IS 300 models include black or ivory leather seats with full power in the front ($2145), a leather/Escaine (suede-like) version for $1845, DVD GPS voice navigation system ($2000), power moonroof ($500), heated front seats ($440), Vehicle Skid Control ($350), and a limited slip differential ($390). 

The IS 300 sedan with the five-speed is a sports model that includes a sport-tuned suspension, and sells for $29,435 with all the same standard stuff. Drivers, you're in luck: more sport for less money. Driver jocks are not so lucky, however, since the five-speed doesn't come in the SportCross body style. So much for sport, at least for 2002. 

Standard equipment includes four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD), halogen foglamps, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, five-spoke alloy wheels, traction control, a premium eight-speaker (nine in SportCross) audio system with cassette and in-dash six-disc CD, and all the power-oriented paraphernalia of a luxury car: automatic climate system, cruise control, power windows and door locks, auto-dimming rearview and driver's sideview mirrors, heated external mirrors, remote entry, security system and more. 

Active and passive safety measures in the IS 300 include an energy-absorbing structure surrounding the passenger compartment, three-point safety restraints with locking retractors for five seat positions, a collapsible steering column, frontal and side-impact airbags for the front seats, plus the new front side-curtain airbags. 

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