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Near Perfect Sports Sedan by An MSN Autos Consumer on 01/28/2014. Trim: 2004 Lexus IS 300 E-Shift Sedan, Owned 4 years.
Pros: Love the looks, inside and out. Love the automatic trans. Love the heated seats, leather, and overall size of car. Great daily driver. Love the engine; from the quick acceleration to worry free maintenance. I've used Pennzoil Platinum 5W30 full synthetic from purchase of ~46K miles and no issues with oil leaks, burning, power loss, smells, nothing. Car just rolled ~129K and runs like it did when I bought it. Had my mechanic do the timing belt/water pump maintenance at ~120K (over due the recommended 90K). Asked him about the spark plugs/timing belt, said plugs were like new and belt could run another few months. The pump did need replacement as it was beginning to leak. Car is a 9/10.
Cons: Only thing is lacking AWD. In snowy conditions the RWD slips frequently. With "snow mode" turned on, the car handles better. The "mode" makes it feel heavier, but found its telling the car to accelerate slower, top off at 40mph, and brakes more gently. Regardless, the "snow mode" has saved me from running off the road on several occasions. If the IS300 was equipped with AWD, snow tires, and "snow mode" it would be unstoppable in snowy conditions. Other than that, I enjoy everything. Even the gas mileage isnt bad. In town; average 19-20mpg, on the highway average 27-28mpg. For a Straight Six, over 200hp, and fairly heavy Sports Sedan it does just fine.
Overall review: Overall, the Lexus IS300 is a dependable everyday driver with the bells and whistles to entertain drivers of all ages. Looks are classic and sporty, engine maintenance is minimal, interior and leather heated seats are bonus, automatic transmission is responsive, and the vehicle is fun to drive on a summer day with sunroof pulled back and all windows down. The sound system is great, just wish the IS300 came with wheel radio controls. Considering a used IS300 with ~100K miles runs under $9K, it would be a fun and safe car for any student. With minimal maintenance and low insurance costs, it would be a perfect fit for someone learning to drive.
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