2017 Lexus IS 300

2017 Lexus IS 300 Review

A smooth ride, quiet cabin and sharp styling are key attributes of the 2017 Lexus IS 300.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Jonathan Elfalan
Edmunds Editor

The 2017 Lexus IS 300 is one of the more aggressively styled luxury compacts, even if performance isn't a primary focus. But considering its all-wheel drive, well-honed ride, ample features and low noise levels, it's got enough going for it to be a convincing choice.

The IS 300 is the midgrade model introduced just last year, slotting in between the turbocharged IS 200t and range-topping IS 350. The IS 300 gets a slightly detuned version of the 350 model's 3.5-liter V6 engine and comes solely with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. There are some drawbacks, such as lackluster performance and a lack of storage and rear legroom. But overall we think the IS 300 will appeal to many shoppers looking for a small luxury sedan.



what's new

On the outside, the 2017 IS 300 sports a revised front bumper, grille, rear taillights and exhaust diffusers. LED headlights are standard this year. Inside, there are minor style and control revisions and a larger display screen for the optional navigation system. The IS 300's formerly optional package of advanced driver aids (Lexus Safety System+) is also now standard.

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There is only one engine for the IS 300, and it's the only IS variant that comes standard with all-wheel drive. You might also want to check out the more powerful IS 350, which can be had with all-wheel drive, too. As for the IS 300, it's all about the packages. We'd get the Luxury package, which bundles a lot of great features, though you can also get many of these features a la carte. We aren't fans of Lexus' Remote Touch infotainment interface, so we'd pass on the Navigation package. For music fans, unfortunately, there is no way to upgrade to the Mark Levinson premium audio system without the navigation system.




trim levels & features

The 2017 Lexus IS 300 is the midlevel model in the IS lineup, between the turbocharged IS 200t and top trim IS 350. There are no actual trim levels, only packages, though the F Sport package adds exterior design elements and more performance-tuned hardware that would certainly alter the character of the IS 300. The IS 300 comes with a detuned version of the 3.5-liter V6 engine (255 horsepower, 236 pound-feet of torque) in the IS 350, plus standard all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. 

Standard equipment highlights for the IS 300 includes 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, premium vinyl upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth, an 8-inch color display, voice commands and an eight-speaker sound system. Lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning system with automatic braking are also standard this year.

A number of packages are available for the IS 300. The smaller ones are the Premium and Premium Plus packages. The former includes heated and ventilated front seats and a rearview camera, and the latter adds automatic wipers, a power-adjustable steering wheel and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Luxury package, which is one we recommend for this IS model, includes all of the above items plus auto-dimming exterior mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel rim and driver-seat memory functions.

The Navigation package replaces the standard infotainment control dial with Lexus' Remote Touch mouse-type controller and adds a navigation system with a larger 10.3-inch display. A 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system can be specified, but it must include the Navigation package.

Finally, there's the F Sport package for those who want to up the sporting factor of their car. It includes a full-mesh front grille, a revised front bumper, twin-projector LED headlights, staggered-width 18-inch wheels (with either summer or all-season tires), a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brake pads, an intake sound generator that amplifies engine noise during acceleration, heated and ventilated front sport seats with enhanced bolstering, perforated leather trim and a special sport-oriented gauge cluster. Because the IS 300's primary focus isn't performance, the F Sport package seems a little misplaced here.

A few other stand-alone options, in addition to some of the above items, include a power rear sunshade, and remote vehicle control function (door locking and unlocking, cabin ventilation, vehicle finder, etc.) via a smartphone app through the Lexus Enform system.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Lexus IS 200t with the F Sport package (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | RWD). The 2017 Lexus IS 300 produces slightly more power and is all-wheel-drive, but our finds remain broadly applicable.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.0 / 5.0

Braking2.5 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort2.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort5.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0
Climate control4.5 / 5.0

Interior

2.5 / 5.0

Ease of use2.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Roominess2.5 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

Utility

2.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage2.5 / 5.0
Cargo space2.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The highlight of the IS 200t is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which is better in every way than the small V6 it replaces. Handling dynamics aren't this car's strongest suit, though you can still have fun whipping this luxury compact around a bend or two.

Acceleration

This IS is generally not as quick as the class equivalents. Lexus says to expect a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds for the IS 300. That's decent, but many rival sedans with six-cylinder upgrade engines are quicker still.

Braking

edmunds rating
The brake pedal travel is surprisingly short and stiff for a Lexus and lacks a sense of stopping power. In our emergency panic-braking test, an IS 200t with the F Sport package stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet, which is below average for a car on summer-rated tires.

Steering

edmunds rating
The electric steering builds effort that provides a natural and direct response, but it lacks road feel, which is important if your front tires ever lose grip. The IS fails to provide confidence in this area, which is critical for spirited driving or low-grip situations.

Handling

edmunds rating
Even with the stickier optional 18-inch summer tires and sport suspension from the F Sport package, the IS has a tendency to push over the limits of front tire grip. Quick directional changes are more to its liking than long, sustained corners, so choose your back roads accordingly.

Comfort

edmunds rating
Excellent ride comfort and the serene quietness of the 2017 IS 300's cabin are the big standouts in this area. We are also happy with the seats, though sitting in the saddle for a few hours can take a small toll on your lower back due to some mismatched lumbar ergonomics.

Seat comfort

edmunds rating
There's adequate lateral seat support, and the optional ventilation and heating work well. The amount of lumbar support is adjustable, but the position is fixed and sits too high to provide long-distance comfort for an average-size driver.

Ride comfort

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The IS delivers combines solid body control with smooth compliance at all the right times. Bumps and impacts are absorbed without issue, yet there's no hint of a marshmallowy ride or overly soft suspension tune. Very good.

Noise & vibration

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Great attention went into the IS 300's cabin soundproofing. Road and wind noise is sufficiently silenced, and you don't hear much of the engine. Quiet cabins are more comfortable and can promote calmer reactions in emergencies.

Climate control

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Lexus managed to make the climate controls easy to use while adding cool touch sliders for the temperature adjustment that function flawlessly. The system had no problems maintaining a comfortable cabin temperature, and the optional heated and ventilated seats are stellar.

Interior

edmunds rating
The IS 300 struggles with finding a balance between innovation and complication. The infotainment system interface lacks user-friendly qualities, and basic cupholder ergonomics were an afterthought to laying out a visually appealing interior. This is a cabin with mediocre functional efficiency.

Ease of use

edmunds rating
Lexus' haptic joystick interface for the infotainment system is still cumbersome to use and manages to snag USB phone cords with ease. We'd stick to the base system if possible.

Getting in/getting out

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Even with the easy-entry retracting steering wheel, it's not difficult to graze a knee against the column climbing into the driver seat. The rear door openings are on the smaller side and could prove difficult for less flexible passengers.

Roominess

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The cabin space is not abundant in the IS 300. For an average-sized driver, the center tunnel console is needlessly wide and the armrests can feel intrusive. The rear seats have less legroom than in some competitors, and the center seat has marginal headroom.

Visibility

edmunds rating
Forward visibility is great, and the rear headrests don't impede the view directly rearward. But huge rear roof pillars and a high body slope create blind spots when reversing. Parking sensors and a rearview camera are optional and recommended.

Quality

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Other than the steering-wheel leather that looks and feels like wrinkled skin by the thumb holds, this interior is done well. The seats have quality stitching, and all contact surfaces are soft with tight panel fit and solid door seals.

Utility

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The smallish trunk that doesn't fold flat and limited interior storage conspire against the IS 200t's utility.

Small-item storage

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Storage up front is limited to the armrest bin, the door pockets and the glovebox.

Cargo space

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At 10.8 cubic feet, cargo space is on the small side for the class. The rear seatbacks fold forward, but hardly flat. The unevenness limits what you can carry with the seats down.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.