2003 Lexus IS 300 Consumer Review: Understand what you're buying

2003 Lexus IS 300 - Consumer Review

Average Consumer Rating

127 Total Reviews

Base Sedan (3.0L 6-cyl. 5-speed Manual)

Build Quality
Reliability Value
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
Understand what you're buying
By 03is300 on


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


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

Best 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.

Worst Features

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.
Recommend (19) (0)

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By 03is300
on 01/18/13 08:06 AM (PST)

03is300 - Follow up almost 2 years later (I wish more people did this so I'm taking the time). I put about a grand into it when I bought it with 73k miles, nothing serious but wanted to do the preventative stuff - serp belt, water pump, plugs, new battery, new pads, resurfaced rotors, oil change, and a few other things I can't remember. Turns out there was some coolant drips on the water pump weep hole so it was on its way out at 8 years old, everything else was for peace of mind. I've put about 25k+- miles since, hasn't required service beyond maintenance. A few things have popped up though which I'd like to bring to light. 1) For reasons unknown to me and the several mechanics at my disposal, between 1200 and 2500 rpms the vehicle will on rare occasions hesitate. Its only for an instant, its not throwing any codes; however, there is a service bulletin about this and reports the cause as 'faulty battery connections.' I just bought another battery for the car (like a boob I left an interior light on when running home late at night in the pouring rain, killed the batt.) and the batt. terminal posts are cone-shaped, but the interior walls of the terminals are cylindrical, i.e. its not a clean connection. It happens so rarely I'm not going battery shopping again, but that's supposedly the fix. 2) this is topical, but I believe bears repeating - the back seats don't fold down. Audi/BMW/Infiniti/essentially every other luxury car manufacturer provides this option, but not the 03 is300. Not a deal breaker by any means (it has the ski pass/thru bag), but honestly its a option I miss. 3) On a positive note, I am getting waaaay better gas mileage than the 16/23 quoted. I'm about 65/35 hw/city, but I've gotten at least 24 mpg on nearly every tank (with the exception of the few where I have some fun with it (what? its good for it every once in a while, knocks the carbon off :)). Bottom line - very, very pleased with my purchase. She will be 10 years old in feb of this year per toyota's stamp, runs like a top, always turns over (knock on wood), and still has her classic looks. Good luck with your hunt, still a lot of great ones out there.

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