Test Drive: 2019 Lexus IS300 AWDJul 10th, 2019
Entry Price: $40,760
Price as tested: $49,295
This week, we drive the 2019 Lexus IS300 Sedan, a potent sedan that competes with the best in the business. Delivered with a $2,795 “F-Sport” option, our Lexus all-wheel-drive (AWD) tester was a pleasure to drive and provided spirited performance when called on. Notable is that even in performance F Sport trim, our IS300 still adheres to the comfort inspired luxury DNA found in every Lexus built.
Listed as a compact sport luxury sedan by EPA standards, the F Sport trim equips a standard IS300 with both amenity and performance upgrades, including a color coordinated front bumper, sport mesh grille, 18-inch Bridgestone all-season tires on F Sport specific split five-spoke alloy wheels, special instrument cluster, high-tech suspension system, aluminum pedals, heated and cooled seats, leather trim and more. Your dealer will review all aspects of F Sport if performance is on your wish list.
For those who buy Lexus models strictly for comfort and convenience, fret not. Take $2,795 off the IS300 price and you still have an amazing full-time AWD vehicle. IS300′s line of standard equipment includes power moonroof, SiriusXM, 17-inch tires and alloy wheels, heated mirrors, LED headlights, carpeted floor mats, dual-zone air, tilt-and-telescoping, seven-inch display, 10-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, USB, iPod, Smart key with push button start, dual chrome exhaust and much more.
Our tester upgrades the stereo/navigation to a top line Mark Levinson, 835 watt, 5.1 Dolby 15-speaker unit for $2,845 more. In addition to the great sounds, you receive the Lexus “Enform Destinations” with one year free subscription. Yes it’s expensive, but it will engulf you in a cocoon of remarkable sounds as I enjoyed listening to the Beach Boys with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and it truly was awesome. Consumers will also receive an Electochromic auto-dim rear view mirror with this option.
Safety equipment? Both the Lexus Safety System+ and Enform Safety Connect are standard fare, ensuring driver and passengers are riding in a Five Star government crash rated vehicle. Included are all of the best safety, from emergency collision avoidance, lane departure with steering assist, and smart cruise control. Your dealer awaits your visit to explain everything.
Another notable, albeit expensive, safety/convenience option is the $1,160 Triple Beam Headlights package. This option offers a modern aero headlight package that provides outstanding added visibility thanks to automatic intelligent high-beams that switches on when the road ahead is clear. When an oncoming vehicle appears, it will temporarily switch to low-beams. An intuitive park assist for $500 and a power rear sunshade for $210 bought the final retail to $49,295 with $1,025 delivery included.
Under the hood, IS300 F Sport receives a 3.5-liter V6 developing 260 horses and 236 torque. The engine couples to a six-speed automatic which is standard on both the Lexus F Sport 300 and 350 trims with AWD. The IS 350 ups horsepower to 311 if you need even more acceleration.
The F Sport transmission paddle shifters make driving more fun and are desirable for helping find correct gear RPM in downshift and upshift situations. Thus, if you enjoy spirited driving when the times and conditions are right, F Sport is for you. EPA numbers are decent but not great at 19 city and 26 highway. Notable is F Sport’s more aggressive engine sound when RPM’s rise. The AWD Lexus moves well for a six-cylinder as owners can expect zero to 60 in 6.1 seconds.
Inside, F Sport’s two-tone cabin is striking with performance oriented, side support, seating that complement the built-in Lexus sophistication consumers expect. The dashboard is well-done and all switches and dials are in easy reach. The aforementioned performance inspired instrument cluster is digital, although I didn’t care much for the “touch” temperature slider for in-cabin temperatures on the full color display.
On the road, expect a firmer F Sport ride thanks to the sporty suspension and my preference on the suspension selection dial. To explain, the F Sport selection dial affects shock absorber settings at each wheel that are either toughened or softened up. Drivers can manually input their ride desire thanks to the Drive Mode Select dial that offers Economy (ECO), Normal or Sport settings.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 110.2 inches, 3,737 lb. curb weight, 10.8 cu. ft. of trunk space and a 17.4 gallon fuel tank.
Check with your area dealership for any current incentives and remember that the rear-drive IS300 starts at just $38,560 if you don’t need AWD traction. The only difference other than price is the rear-drive comes with an eight-speed automatic instead of the AWD’s heavy duty six-speed automatic.
In summary, Lexus IS300 is a great car, and in F Sport dress competes with some of the very best sport luxury sedans in the world, ala BMW, Audi, Infiniti, Acura, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and Lincoln.
Be it rear drive or AWD, the IS300 is a worthy competitor.