2005 IS 300 New Car Test Drive
The Lexus IS 300 stuffs snappy performance and superior quality into a sassy compact four-door sedan. It's the enthusiast's choice among the more affordable cars in the Lexus stable and, inside and out, it looks like nothing else in the lineup.
The Lexus IS 300 is comparably priced with the more conservative Lexus ES 330, but is targeted toward a younger audience. While the ES 330 uses a V6 and front-wheel drive, the IS 300 uses an inline-6 and rear-wheel drive. The ES is smooth and sophisticated; the IS is hip and aggressive. With 215-horsepower, rear-wheel drive and road-hugging handling, the IS 300 is an alternative to the benchmark BMW 3 Series and Nissan G35. The SportCross sport wagon brings practicality to the mix.
The Lexus IS 300 comes in two body styles. The sedan offers a choice of five-speed manual ($29,435) or five-speed E-shift automatic ($30,805). The SportCross ($30,805) is only available with the automatic.
All come standard with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD), side-curtain air bags, halogen foglamps, high-intensity discharge headlights, five-spoke alloy wheels, traction control, a premium eight-speaker (nine in SportCross) audio system with cassette and in-dash six-disc CD player, plus all the power-oriented paraphernalia of a luxury car: automatic climate control, cruise control, power windows and door locks, auto-dimming rearview and driver's sideview mirrors, heated external mirrors, remote entry, security system and more. SportCross also gets a sturdy rear window washer/wiper.
The sedan with the manual gearbox comes with a sport-tuned suspension. All models come standard with five-spoke 17-inch wheels and 215/45ZR17 tires. Eleven-spoke wheels are optional. The SportCross features slightly wider rear tires (225/45R17) on half-inch wider rims. All-season tires are available as a no-cost option (17 inches on sedans; 16 inches on SportCross, good for adding slightly taller snow tires). Graphite-polished wheels are optional ($400).
A Leather Package ($2,465 for the sedan, $2,505 for the SportCross) includes leather trim, eight-way driver and passenger power seats, driver's-seat memory, and a programmable garage door opener. A similar package is available trimmed in leather and alcantara ($2,065 and $2,105). Heated front seats ($440) can be added to either package. We recommend Vehicle Stability Control ($350) for models with automatics. A navigation system ($2,000) is also available.