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 The rear-wheel-drive IS 300 uses an eight-speed transmission while the all-drive-wheel model retains the smooth, if outdated, V6 engine and six-speed automatic.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.
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.