Sporty and sleek, the Lexus IS300 is an entry-level luxury car that broke the quiet and refined qualities typical on the Japanese luxury car. Introduced in 2000 as the 2001 model, the IS300 is among the three variants of the XE10 series that offer optimum performance over the previous Lexus models. A part of the Intelligent Series, the IS300's hip styling catered more to the younger and more active drivers, packing an engine that's built to race and a strong frame that's built to last.
2001-2002: Engine power for the first placer
Powered by a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, the Lexus IS300 made its name in the street racing scene, proving that this luxury car was different from its kind. Its 220-horsepower engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission was first tested on the 2001 Motorola Cup North American Street Stock Championship touring car series. In the same year, three IS300s braved the Grand-Am Cup in Phoenix, Arizona. But it was at the Virginia International Raceway where the Lexus IS300 reached the checkered flag first, earning Team Lexus its first IS300 win.
The following year, the IS300 sped up against other race cars in the Grand-Am Cup Street Tuner class and won the Drivers' Championship as well as the Team's. Also, the Lexus IS300 extended its podium finish at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant held in Quebec, Canada.
2001-2005: Top-quality build recognized by many
Although its overall volume would easily pass the standards of a compact vehicle, the Environmental Protection Agency listed the Lexus IS300 as a subcompact car for its subcompact-dimensioned backseat room. But this luxury sedan wasn't just an ordinary subcompact car--it was a safe, impact-withstanding subcompact car as reviewed by the government and independent bodies. In 2001, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Lexus IS300 high safety ratings of five stars for the side-driver and side-rear passenger categories while four stars for the frontal-driver and frontal-passenger categories. During the same year, the IS300 was also given the Best-to-Hold Award by the Kelley Blue Book, the largest automotive vehicle valuation company in the US.
Four years later, the well-recognized Lexus IS300 aced the seven Insurance Institute for Highway Safety front-impact tests, proving the IS300's strong and effective build. A great crash-test record is one factor to gauge a car's worth in the market, another is customer satisfaction. The Lexus IS300, together with the IS300 SportCross, did just that after being named the best entry-level luxury vehicle by the J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information services firm in the US.