2003 Lexus IS 300 Base Sedan Consumer Reviews | Edmunds
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2003 Lexus Is-300 - Consumer Reviews

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2003 IS 300 Consumer Reviews

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Bought it used, but it still had zero problems!
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By gpokhare
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan E-Shift 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)


Review

Bought it w/ 120,000 KMs and as a rebuilt title. Amazingly fun car to drive in the summer, and is extremely reliable. In 2 years owning it, outside of having to change the brake pad and battery, I only had to come in to the shop for oil changes and tire changes. However, the car is not good for heavy winter driving. Because its RWD and fairly light, you have to be extremely careful when driving it in heavy snow roads as it tends to slide. The stock stereo is unbelievable. I tried a 2014 BMW this year, and the stereo on that didn't even match the 03 Lexus IS stereo. Also, this car's safety features protected me very well when I was t-boned by another car. I would highly recommend this car.


Favorite Features

- Stereo - RWD acceleration picks up quickly - Safety - Reliable and rarely had any issues outside of maintenance (despite me driving a rebuilt title) - The handling is amazing - very tight turns - Its a looker, especially from the back


Suggested Improvements

- Winter driving is not that good - the car tends to slide, even with heavy winter tires on, so you'll have to drive carefully - Takes premium gas - cost me about $60-70 to fill up a tank (in Toronto, Canada) - Really bad at going up inclines - engine would audibly strain, and it drove much slower than other cars in that same setting - At least in my car, heating up the engine during the Canadian winter took about 6-10 minutes. If I did not heat up the engine and tried to drive, the engine would sometimes stall


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Home-Run
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By 03is
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan E-Shift 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)


Review

Ready? Love the car, but since I just recently bought it, I've had to do some work getting it up to par as the prior owner didn't take great care. However, it's a Lexus, so a blind monkey could drive it into a lake and it'd be better than anything on the road. A few cosmetic issues inside and out, and 90k service hadn't been done. When something breaks on this car, it's costly. But if you take care of it, it'll take care of you. I wish they had that mentality! That said, It's a joy to drive. Slightly heavy and a bit sluggish, but with 200+hp, you don't lack for power. Finding low-mileage units is just about impossible, and when you purchase yours, you'll see why.


Favorite Features

Good sounds system, great looks, wonderful power (especially w/ PWR ECU button). No problems w/ snow despite being RWD. Plenty of classy upgrades one can install to contribute to personality without it being one of those dumb looking cars younger folks try to make it into.


Suggested Improvements

More engine noise! I love the driving experience, and this car does a great job to keep everything quite. Let me hear the horses in the stable at work!


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Understand what you're buying
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By 03is300
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)


Review

Note: I am a car guy, I'm not even 30 and this is my seventh car (not an idiot, just an enthusiast with a few extra nickels to burn on car payments), this is not a worthless review where I talk about how I don't like the cupholders or the color..... Aside from a few minor issues, this vehicle is a great choice, especially now that the prices have dropped dramatically. This is not your grandfather's lexus, it does not ride like its on rails and a lot of the 'luxury' options are simply not included with this model. Previous vehicle: 2005 Audi A4 with every option imaginable, the two are not comparable on any level beyond purchase price. Overall a fantastic car, just understand what ur buying


Favorite Features

This vehicle moves- I bought the 5 speed man trans, 1st is sluggish but you'll get to 80 by the time you're near the end of 3rd gear. One of my friends runs his own shop and another is a master mechanic at a lexus dealership and I have mechanical knowledge myself, anyone who knows cars will tell you Toyotas are bulletproof if maintained, especially this I-6 engine. Again, the term is 'bulletproof.' If the car has been maintained, you will get sick of it long before it dies. Keep with the maintainence schedule and you'll get 175k-200k easy out of it. That is not an exageration; if you don't beat it to death, it will literally run forever. I saw one online for sale w 224k mi.


Suggested Improvements

Things to mindful of: 1) this is not a family car, the back seat is very tight and really only seats 2. 2)there is CONSIDERABLE oversteer, especially at highway speeds. It will take time to get used to, trust me. You move the wheel an inch and you'll be in a guard rail. No joke. 3) road noise is nearly comparable to a jeep wrangler. This vehicle was lexus's attempt to appeal to the younger masses, I'm 26 and I wish it was quieter. 4) if you're in a cold climate (im in the northeast), be ready to deal with a less-than-agreeable gearbox when she's warming up (manual trans). Shifting is notchy and somewhat difficult for the first few minutes, but once its warm, you're good to go.


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Sold my IS 300 after Seven good years
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Aja1
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan E-Shift 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)


Review

I just traded in my '03 IS after seven years and 161,000 miles (purchased new). During my ownership, I never replaced a light bulb, only replaced the brakes once and the tires twice. The car was a joy to drive and I would have kept it for another 100,000 if I didn't need a bigger car for a growing family. I wish I liked the new IS series as much, but I thought the styling dropped off and the inline-6 was special.


Favorite Features

Styling, reliability, performance.


Suggested Improvements

A 6th speed would have been nice and would have probably improved fuel economy.


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2003 Lexus IS300 Sport Design
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Justin
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)


Review

I bought my 2003 black on black Lexus sport design in 2009 with 86k miles on it. The car drove and performed awesome the whole time i owned it. The interior is classy/sporty and stylish. Every girl I've taken on a drive loved the car. The car's chrome shift ball is F1 inspired i love the look. The door stiles have silver step plates. Car never fail me but the previous owner never changed the factory battery and it died on me twice. That's the only problem i had but the battery was 6 years old so go figure. Love the car had to sell it because i need money. The sport design is 300 is a great car. Get you one!


Favorite Features

Exterior, Wheels, Interior, 2jz engine. Great for tuning.


Suggested Improvements

More Power, IS300 would be insane with twin turbo supra engine if it came like that from factory.


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Love this car
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By bosco
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)


Review

Bought this car with 29,000 miles on it. Love the styling inside and out. Seats are very comfortable with high quality leather. Dash and instruments have a great design and cool orange color at night. Also love the 6-disc in-dash CD changer. Low profile tires look awesome, but the stock tires rode rough, so I switched to similar tires with lower speed rating which ride much smoother. I get compliments on this car all the time. Other than oil, tires, and brakes have had absolutely no issues. I did get a disc stuck in the changer - think I jammed it in there, my fault - but the dealer replaced the whole unit under warranty in 2 days. Engine rocks, especially around 3-4k RPM.


Favorite Features

Styling, great engine, 6-disc changer, wheels, integrated tool kit, comfy seats, full size spare.


Suggested Improvements

None - love this car!! 86,000 miles and going strong!


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Reliable
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Reliable
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)


Review

Love the car. Bought it with 15K on it and it's got just over 80K now. Sporty, handles great, looks great but most of all it's reliable. In 65K miles of driving, I have had to do squat to the car other than oil and change the tires. Obvious normal maintenance but still haven't needed brakes, belts are getting ready but no mechanical problems at all. Especially the A/C - works like a champ and still freezes me out.


Favorite Features

Love the turning radius.


Suggested Improvements

Change the camber on the tires. Stock angle wears the inside of all 4 quickly. Obviously it helps with handling but I don't race it, so no need.


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A Different Breed of Lexus
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Modder
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)


Review

I buy cars for their performance and moddability (and this car is very moddable having the Supra's 2jz and all), but I'll rate this car from a consumers point of view, since you are probably interested in buying this car. This is not your average type of Lexus. Lexus' are usually known for their comfort and amenities, but this car is different. The IS 300 was designed to compete with the 3 series, and that it does. This is a SPORT sedan, so it drives like one, do not buy this car expecting the usual laid back handling of the other cars in the Lexus fleet. This is definitely the car to buy, if you are looking for a RELIABLE car that will add some excitement to your daily commute to work.


Favorite Features

Moddability. The 6 disc in-dash CD changer is nice. But my favorite feature of the car is definitely the handling. It drives like a true sports car should... fun. And of course there is the fact that is a Lexus, the definition of reliability.


Suggested Improvements

Being a "sport" sedan the car could have had more power, but it's decent enough. The dash is made of some extremely cheap plastic, that not only scratches very easily, but has a talent for showing dust unlike any other material.


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Best car I have ever owned
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By Dabrt
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)


Review

I have had my Lexus for a year and a half and its been wonderful. No problems at all. Driving it is so much fun and it handles great. The only downside about owning a Lexus is the upkeep is very expensive if you get it done at the dealership.


Favorite Features

Headlights, 6 disc in dash CD player/cassette, power everything, auto dimming mirror.


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A Great Replacement
Performance
Comfort
Fuel Economy
Fun To Drive
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Build Quality
Reliability
By astro403
on

Vehicle

2003 Lexus IS 300 Sedan 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)


Review

Decided it was time to upgrade from my 1999 Honda Prelude but was a little skeptical at first. I loved that car. Great handling, good power, unbelieveable reliability, the list goes on. After I bought the IS, all my skepticism was put to rest. Love the handling (although I had to get used to RWD again) performance, sexy styling and yes, even gas mileage. My IS gets about the same as my prelude. And we're talking about a 3.0L V6 compared to a 2.2L 4 banger. I was impressed. Traction is OK in the snow. Living up in Canada you need winter tires, but even with them and with both trac. control and snow mode on, the wheels still slip quite easily, but if you pay attention like you should, you'll be fine.


Favorite Features

Love the styling the best. Best stock rims out there. Good combination of luxury and performance. The dash is great. Unique and functional. If you want solid performance with some luxury then the IS is for you.


Suggested Improvements

The transmission with the MT needs work (when you shift from 1st-2nd-3rd you hear a "clunking" sound). It's the only flaw I notice, but talking to dealers and other IS owners, it doesn't have impact on reliability or performance. You just have to learn to shift a little differently and it goes away.


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