2018 Lexus IS 300 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth and comfortable ride on bumpy roads
  • Cabin is well isolated from noise
  • Offers more features for the money than German rivals
  • Handling capabilities do little to create driver excitement
  • V6 power compares to smaller turbo engines, but isn't as efficient
  • Optional Remote Touch infotainment system is distracting to use
List Price Range
$25,199 - $37,961

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Which IS 300 does Edmunds recommend?

The IS 300 now offers a punchy turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It's the one we'd take. The turbo-four makes less horsepower than the V6, but its additional torque makes for better acceleration off the line. It also gets better gas mileage. To that we'd add the Comfort package for its, well, additional comfort and safety features. We'd skip the Navigation package since it comes with the frustrating Remote Touch interface; unfortunately for music fans, that package is the only way to get the Mark Levinson premium audio system.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

7.2 / 10

Seeing a 2018 Lexus IS 300 at rest, you might take its aggressive style — the pinched grille, prominent air intakes and sweeping body lines to the back — as the sign of an uncompromising performance car. But don't let its looks fool you. The IS 300 is foremost a cruise and comfort machine, with a well-honed ride, hushed cabin and generous feature set.

For 2018, the IS 300 lineup gains a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with rear-wheel drive. This isn't entirely a new development, however; Lexus has simply renamed last year's rear-wheel-drive IS 200t as a 300. The rear-wheel-drive IS 300 uses an eight-speed transmission while the all-drive-wheel model retains the smooth, if outdated, V6 engine and six-speed automatic.

The V6 puts out 260 horsepower this year, although this still pales in comparison to the IS' European six-cylinder rivals. The IS 300's overall handling capabilities also fail to deliver the robust driving excitement of some other sport luxury sedans. But overall we think you'll like the IS 300. The interior stands out in both design and quality, the standard features included on the base level trim are generous by any measure, and the convenience and safety tech is top-notch.

2018 Lexus IS 300 models

The 2018 Lexus IS 300 is a five-passenger small luxury sedan that slots below the more powerful IS 350. The IS 300 is available with a four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive or a V6 engine with all-wheel drive. There are no actual trim levels, only stand-alone options and trim packages, although the F Sport package adds exterior elements and hardware that improve the IS 300's performance.

The IS 300 rear-wheel-drive model starts with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (241 hp, 258 pound-feet of torque) and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Standard features include 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof, heated side mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, premium vinyl upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth, a 7-inch color display, and a 10-speaker sound system with dual USB ports and an auxiliary audio input.

Standard tech and safety features include a rearview camera, automatic high beams, lane departure warning and intervention, adaptive cruise control, and a forward collision warning system with pedestrian detection and automatic braking.

The IS 300 all-wheel-drive model substitutes a 3.5-liter V6 engine (260 hp, 236 lb-ft of torque) and a six-speed automatic transmission. Heated front seats also come standard.

The IS 300 offers a few options packages, among them the Comfort package, which adds automatic wipers, a power-adjustable steering wheel, driver-seat memory settings, and blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. A Premium package includes heated and ventilated front seats.

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 is also available, but only when bundled with the navigation system. 

For those who want to dial up the sporting factor, the F Sport package adds 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 and a special sport-oriented gauge cluster.

Other stand-alone options include 18-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, a power rear sunshade, and front and rear parking sensors.

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 F Sport (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | RWD). Note that the IS 200t has since been renamed the IS 300. The 2018 Lexus IS 300 V6 model produces slightly more power and has all-wheel drive, but our findings remain applicable.

Driving

7.0
The highlight of the IS 300 is the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which is better than the V6. 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

7.0
This IS is not as quick as the class equivalents, but the turbo four-cylinder makes good power and sounds more refined than BMW's 2.0-liter engine. The 0-60 mph sprint is achieved in 6.8 seconds.

Braking

7.0
Brake pedal travel is surprisingly short and stiff for a Lexus and lacks a sense of stopping power. In our emergency panic-braking test, the IS stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet, which is longer than average for a car on summer tires.

Steering

6.5
The steering feels natural and direct when you turn the wheel but lacks road feel, which is important if your front tires ever lose grip. The IS 300 fails to provide confidence in this area, and that's critical for spirited driving.

Handling

6.5
Even with the stickier optional 18-inch summer tires, the IS 300's grip and balance around turns don't really impress. Quick directional changes are more to its liking than long, sustained corners.

Drivability

7.0
Power is more than sufficient, but the eight-speed automatic transmission's shifting can feel languid at times. It takes about a second to select the right gear if you mat the gas for a big downshift, which is too slow if you're trying to get out of the way.

Comfort

8.0
Excellent ride comfort and the serene quietness of the 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

6.0
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

8.5
The IS delivers 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 tuning. Very good.

Noise & vibration

8.5
Great attention went into the IS cabin's 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

8.0
Lexus managed to make the climate controls easy to use while adding cool touch sliders that adjust the temperature flawlessly. The system had no problems maintaining a comfortable cabin temperature, and the optional heated and ventilated seats are stellar.

Interior

6.5
The IS struggles with finding a balance between innovation and complication. The infotainment system interface lacks user-friendly qualities, and basic cupholder ergonomics seem like afterthoughts. This is a cabin with mediocre usability.

Ease of use

8.0
Lexus' haptic joystick interface for the infotainment system is cumbersome to use, and it snags smartphone charger cords with ease. The touch sliders for the climate control — which look cool and work well — are the best cabin features.

Getting in/getting out

6.5
Even with the easy-entry retracting steering wheel, it's not difficult to graze a knee against the column while climbing into the driver's seat. The rear door openings are on the smaller side and could prove difficult for less flexible passengers.

Roominess

5.5
Cabin space is not abundant. For an average-size driver, the center tunnel console seems needlessly wide, and the armrests can feel intrusive. The rear bench offers less legroom than you'll find in some competitors, and the center seat has marginal headroom.

Visibility

7.0
Forward visibility is great. Rear headrests don't impede the view directly rearward, but the huge rear pillars and a high body slope create blind spots when reversing. The optional parking sensors and rearview camera are recommended.

Quality

8.0
Other than the steering-wheel leather that looks and feels like wrinkled skin by the thumb holds, this interior is done well, with tight panel fit and solid door seals. The seats have quality stitching, and all contact surfaces are soft.

Utility

7.5
The smallish trunk (10.8 cubic feet) doesn't fold flat. The unevenness limits what you can carry with the seats down. Small-item storage up front is limited to the armrest bin, the door pockets and the glovebox.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall7.2 / 10
Driving7.0
Comfort8.0
Interior6.5
Utility7.5
Technology6.5

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2018 Lexus IS 300.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Fun 2 drive, poor technology
Jason burgos,08/08/2018
4dr Sedan AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Only 3,000 miles in but the navigation and Lexus Enform is terribly unreliable. I wasted money upgrading to this option. Seat cooling and heating has a mind of its own.
IS 300Fsport FUN FUN
John Eversole,07/13/2018
4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
There are only a few nagging issues but in the big scheme of things, they may be minor to many. First, the car is very nimble, quick steering, brakes and acceleration. I could get better than 19.5 mpg but I drive it very fast and hard. A little hard to get in, but once in, very comfortable. But a car at this level should have memory seats! Very little storage in the large (on the outside) console. I did not order, or want, the navigation. One of the reasons I bought this model was the fold down rear seats, and most Lexus models do not and I did not want another SUV. It is a fun car that feels very solid and safe and would be close to perfect if these few areas were corrected.
Lady in hot Blue Lexus
Kathy,08/07/2018
4dr Sedan AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
First Lexus, fun to drive, great handling on curves, brakes excellent. Comfortable seats, lacks storage next to driver. Love it!
THE BEST CAR EVER
JAY,08/08/2018
4dr Sedan AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
This tesla is so great I think you should buy it because you will get to experience the world and its radio in the car you can bump all night also the autopilot amazing thank you elon

Safety

Our experts like the IS 300 models:

Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
Monitors lane markings, warns if you are drifting, and can even actively help steer the vehicle back into the lane of travel.
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
Helps drivers maintain a preset distance by adjusting the vehicle's speed in relation to the vehicle directly ahead.
Intelligent High Beam
Switches between high and low beams automatically by using cues from a camera that helps detect when other vehicles are present.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover9.5%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2018 Lexus IS 300

Used 2018 Lexus IS 300 Overview

The Used 2018 Lexus IS 300 is offered in the following submodels: IS 300 Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A), and 4dr Sedan AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Lexus IS 300?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Lexus IS 300 trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Lexus IS 300 Base is priced between $25,199 and$37,961 with odometer readings between 3374 and58430 miles.

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Which used 2018 Lexus IS 300s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Lexus IS 300 for sale near. There are currently 25 used and CPO 2018 IS 300s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $25,199 and mileage as low as 3374 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Lexus IS 300.

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Find a used Lexus IS 300 for sale - 6 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $21,611.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus IS 300 for sale - 6 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $11,896.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus for sale - 3 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $25,206.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 Lexus IS 300?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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