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We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Lexus has taken a warning shot over the bow of the BMW 3-Series with the IS line.

  • 2016 Lexus IS300 AWD
  • MSRP: $39,700 (Before adding packages and accessories.)
  • Tested Price: $47,315 (includes $940 destination fee)
  • Engine/Transmission: 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Power: 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. of torque
  • City\Highway\Combined MPG: 19/26/21

Our IS300 AWD tester came with the Luxury Package ($3,945), which includes LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, heated and ventilated seats, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors, backup monitor, and power tilt/telescopic steering wheel. It also came with the $1,505 navigation system, $150 heated steering wheel, $65 cargo net, and $75 wheel locks.

Reviewer’s Notes

  • The big news with the IS line this year is all about the new 3.5-liter V6 direct-injected engine. It's mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters) that lays the power down via standard all-wheel drive (no two-wheel drive option is available on the IS300 model).
  • The 3.5-litre V6 is arguably the perfect engine in the IS line when trying to match performance with fuel economy (a less aggressive four cylinder is available in the 200t model, as well as a more potent turbocharged version of the 3.5-liter V6 in the IS350 model).
  • Mash the accelerator and you are met with the symphonic thrum of that glorious V6. More fun is had when the vehicle is put in Sport Mode (increased throttle response and lengthened shift points in the tachometer).
  • Manual paddle shifters can also be used during any of the four drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Winter).
  • Unfortunately, when in manual mode, the car's transmission computer takes over when the rev limiter is reached or the engine slows below a usable gear ratio. The result? The transmission changes gears for you.
  • Just like other IS models in the lineup, steering is tight, sporty and responsive with decent road feel.
  • Sporty seats are supportive and deliver comfort.
  • Seating surfaces are wrapped in leather with contrast stitching. The dashboard utilizes imitation leather and soft touch materials well.
  • Controls are intuitive, but the infotainment controller lacks the finesse of German luxury systems (a gripe we've mentioned in all Lexus reviews).
  • The staggered tire setup means this car performs turn-in well. In the wet, a 90-degree right turn was taken at about 15 MPH above normal speed. The car broke traction in a very predictable and slow way, essentially rotating from the center of the car into the turn. The behavior is exactly how sports sedans should behave.

Misses

  • Like all of the paddle shift enabled vehicles in the IS line, the transmission doesn't change gears quickly enough in manual mode.
  • Infotainment system is plagued with the same complaints as previous models: ridiculously touchy joystick and low resolution graphics.
  • While available with a moonroof, there is no panoramic sunroof option on any IS sedans.

Value Retention

In regards to value retention, three-year-old Lexus IS models to-date (2013 model year) have retained 52.6% of their original value. Lexus outperforms its segment value retention score of 46.1%.