Anthony’s Analytics: 2022 Lexus IS300 AWD

2022 Lexus IS300 AWD

by Anthony Fongaro  - Photos via Lexus - 09/28/2022 

Look at Lexus’ portfolio, and you’ll notice something interesting. Some of their vehicles are still quite old. Their almost ancient Lexus GX460 has been around longer than Lexus would like to admit, and they only recently redesigned the LX into a handsome and modern SUV. Most of Lexus’ sedans have been redesigned, but the one that stands out is their IS. Now in its seventh year, I had a 2022 IS300 AWD, the entry-level IS with AWD. When I drove this, my main concern is this: can this compete with the likes of the Genesis G70? I can say that after my week with the IS300 AWD, my thoughts on this sporty sedan changed a bit.

When you look at the Lexus IS300 AWD, you see an angular and sleek sedan. The front has Lexus’ signature gigantic grille followed by angular headlights. This particular IS was wearing Grecian Water blue paint along with 19-inch wheels. At the rear, there is an optional spoiler along with Lexus and IS badging. The exterior is a slight evolution of the original design from seven years ago, but it still works. There aren’t a lot of sedans that still look fresh and modern many years into the future. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? That’s a slightly loaded statement because the interior is where I have my major complaints.

Remember when I said this is a seven-year-old car? You can tell that this is an aged interior with some modern flair. Looking at the steering wheel, Lexus’ design for the audio controls doesn’t make sense. The buttons are up and down rather than side to side. There is a little stalk for the adaptive cruise control,  and the steering wheel is power-operated. Since this is the base Lexus, you have analog dials along with a little digital display. The dials are clear, but Lexus’ digital dials are far more advanced and look more expensive. Interior design-wise, this IS was equipped with what Lexus calls “Glazed Caramel Nuluxe® and black open-pore wood trim.” The seats are brown. Although I liked the color, mostly all of my passengers didn’t. There were two surprises. First, the seats weren’t what I’d call “Lexus comfortable.” Second, although the cabin has high levels of build quality, the materials didn’t feel as nice as in a much less-expensive Mazda.

2022 Lexus IS300 AWD

I’ll start this section with what I like about the infotainment system and center stack. A large 10.3-inch touchscreen is your navigation system which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Since this is an older car, the IS still has separate buttons for the climate control and large buttons for the heated and ventilated seats, along with the heated steering wheel. There’s even an analog clock. How about that for luxury? Here’s what I didn't like. The interior cabin feels dated. You get a CD changer! How the 2000s is that!? The shifter is rather large and the infotainment system is Lexus’ old and terrible system. Although this is a touchscreen, there still is a frustrating mousepad that you have to use to bring up the menu. Some may not mind these dislikes, but the cabin doesn’t feel like it’s from 2022.

I’m still confused about the engine differences between the regular RWD version of the IS300 and the AWD version. RWD versions have a turbocharged inline-four engine, while the AWD uses a detuned V6 from the IS350. This naturally-aspirated V6 makes just 260 horsepower/194 kW and 236 lb-ft/320 Nm. Another odd thing is that this uses a six-speed automatic, while other IS models come with an eight-speed. With everything combined, the IS300 AWD gets from 0-60 MPH in around six seconds. An optional sports exhaust sounded great with the V6 engine, especially in the higher rev range. There are paddle shifters and a manual-shift mode, but those shifts aren’t very smooth. A large rotary drives select houses eco, normal, and sport modes. I mostly kept the IS in normal mode, while using sport mode under more heavy acceleration. With this being a V6, I averaged around 22 mpg. It may ride a tad bit rougher than a standard Lexus, but the IS is competent over bumps.

There are a few other things to mention. If you buy a Lexus, always option the Mark Levinson sound system. The one in the IS300 AWD was fantastic and the car's highlight. With no options, the IS300 AWD starts at around $41,000, but this car had about $13,000 worth of options. These options included a sound system, upgraded seats with heat and ventilated seats, a 360-degree parking camera, a spoiler, an exhaust, a rear sunshade, and a power-operated steering wheel. All in, you’re looking at around $54,000. This pricing is competitive with vehicles such as the Genesis G70, Acura TL, and the Volkswagen Arteon. 

2022 Lexus IS300 AWD

The big question of “should you buy the IS300 AWD” has an interesting answer. First off, I wouldn’t. Instead, I’d go for the IS350 AWD, which has the full 311-horsepower V6. Sticking with the IS 300 AWD: if you’re like me and like modern interiors and engines, you won’t like the IS. On the flip side, this is a sedan that will probably outlast the majority of its competitors. It’s a more simple vehicle that is durable. The luxury is there, plus the V6 with optional performance exhaust sounds great. I still think this is one of the sharper-designed sports sedans. Although I may not place the IS300 AWD high on the sports sedan totem pole, some want a good-looking sedan that will be reliable.