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Lexus IS 300 SportCross



  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    35moparman... The fact they are so rare and hard to find is both a blessing (since it is likely yours would be the only SportCross for a zillion mile radius) and a curse (how can you test drive what no dealer has).

    Think the SportCross my wife bought earlier this year is the only one my local dealer had for the entire MY2004. In the past year, believe I've seen one other SportCross and I drive about 25,000 miles a year.

    The SportCross has some interesting characteristics compared to the IS300 sedan. It actually has a slightly better weight distribution. Believe the sedan is 54/46 and the SportCross is 53/47. Plus the SportCross uses a slightly wider rear tire (a staggered tire set up). (My wife's car came with the summer high performance tires.) So it is a most competent handler!
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    If you find one on a local lot, I'll be surprised. I looked around for five months or so (casually) stopping at various Lex shops from time to time to see one. No luck.

    When my dealer went to locate one for me, he found 11 of them in a 100-mile radius.

    If I had to to it over again, I'd order one. I'd order one exactly to my spec and wait the darned ten weeks for delivery. I didn't have that option on the last one. :(
  • saz1861saz1861 Posts: 26
    I don't think you are going to find a new SportCross on the lot. When I bought my '04 in January, I special ordered it. It was worth the wait. I am in SE PA and NONE of the dealers in the area had one when I was shopping. A couple told me they did not make them anymore. I drove to Baltimore to test drive a used one. However, if you like the IS sedan, you will love the Sport X. A couple of NJ dealers will special order one for you. I bought mine at Lexus of Cherry Hill. Lawrenceville also would order. I had to put $1000 down at the time of ordering. Good Luck.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Just put on a set of Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50 tires on the SportCross. 205/55R16 91Q. Bought 'em thru the Tire Rack. Part of the IS300 package: $800 for tires ($105/t) & alloy wheels ($95/w) plus $77.40 for freight and then a final $20 at installation. Grand total of $899.40.

    Had the four tires/wheels shipped directly to one of the participating Tire Rack installers (used TO Haas). Very easy to order. No problems with installation. Worked like a charm.
  • Bought a 2002 SX to replace a 93 Regal. I'm 65, wife 66, so what is all this stuff about the car being designed for the 30-40 year olds? She complained about no airbags in Buick, too much bulk for parking, bad visibility around outside rear view mirrors; and I was fed up with American reliability (although they've become better). Saw this distinctive car on a dealer's used lot, checked all the big red dots in every category for Lexus' in Consumer's Reports, and went for it. Well everything is really cool now, except we traded lots of rear end glass in Regal for a poorer rear view in SX, but that's only minus so far. Had to give it 60k service at $1,000+ from local dealer,(ouch) and paid $1,400 for 3 year/30k extended warranty ("Vehicle One"), but $18.5K "low dealer price" seems to balance it out. Ex. warranty moves mileage coverage out to 2007 and/or almost 100,000 mi. in this case. Considering the cost of genuine Lexus parts and repair charges, does anyone out there think it is fair? or unfair? I've had extensive "racing experience", all with my wife at my side, telling me constantly to stay on my side of the yellow line. Well, this car begs me to choose a turn in point, hit the apex, and track out on the far shoullder. Can it get any better than this? She's getting hoarse reprimanding me. Guess I'll have to settle down a bit. We live near Laguna Seca, but she hits me upside the head whenever we pass the entrance to the track. That's OK, when the IS300 Sportcross becomes a classic, (I hope) then I'll slap a number on the side, but some racing decals on it, and BS the race people with a story about winning my class at Le Mans, Sebring, or someplace.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    polenta... Sounds like you are enjoying your great car. The IS300 SportCross is a joy to drive and drive hard. Just be prepared for tire wear.

    Does yours have LSD? The summer higher performance tires? My wife's has both. Blast to drive.
  • jmessjmess Posts: 677
    Since I am kidfree I removed the rear headrests the first week I had the car. It helps with the rear vis.
  • jmessjmess Posts: 677
    Somebody on the OdyClub mentioned that Lexus is going to do up a Sienna mini van for 06 and will call it the SportCross? That should make it pretty interesting in the future when you tell people what kind of car you drive?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    We were hit with about 12 inches of snow this week. My wife raved about how her IS300 SportCross performed with snow tires (Blizzak WS50s). She said it handled better than any other car she'd had, which included other RWD and FWD cars. (We've never had an AWD or 4WD vehicle.)


    Snow tires, VSC, ABS/TC, and winter AT mode all help make the IS300 decent in the white stuff.


    I'm still amazed at how beautiful her car is. Love the look and color, bright red. And you never ever see another one so people ask about it. Great car with exclusivity.
  • jmessjmess Posts: 677
    Seems like I am now in a SportX zone. There are two other cars that now frequent the office mall area that I hang out in. I regularly see a black and grey one. It is pretty strange because I never see one anywhere else except when I go to work.


    My Sportx days are probably numbered at this point. I am sorta of in love with the new C6 Vette. I am working towards acquiring an 06 version next fall.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    jmess... You want to go from a 5-seat $30,000 wagon to a 2-seat $45,000 sports car? Hope you have a 2nd car. [If I was gonna buy something like an '06 Corvette, I'd much rather buy an M3. Same performance but with 4 seats and a trunk.]
  • jmessjmess Posts: 677
    Not to worry we have an Ody van and Accord. I am kid less so losing a backseat isn't a big issue for me. I had a couple of CRXs so I have lived with 2 seaters before.


    I have never owned a V8 muscle car before and I really like what GM has done with the C6. I have been so anti GM in the past that I almost can't believe that I said that though


    I think a loaded M3 with the SMG (which I would want) would cost more than a C6 configured to my specs. I also think the C6 would be cheaper to own and operate than the M3 over the long run. The C6 isn't as high tech as the M3. Just a big old reliable push rod V8. The LS2 is more of a torque monster(400 of them) than the M3. I also think the C6 might be a better cruiser than the M3 on a long trip.


    The wife just gave me her blessing today for this project. My current plan is to wait until August and order an 06. This gives the General a year to work out a few C6 bugs. So that leaves me lots of time to kick the tires on the competition.
  • I am looking into picking up a CPO Sportcross. I was wondering if someone has a list of the model year changes?

    Also, what is the advantage of having the LSD and the VSC? Doesn't the car already have the traction control?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    duckman748... The SportCross came out as a MY2002. There really haven't been too many changes over time. You might ask the dealer or look at Edumunds material here. The SportCross has always only come with an automatic tranmsission.


    Anti-lock brakes prevent the brakes from locking up so you don't skid and can still have some steering capability.


    Limited-slip differential is an acceleration enhancer. It ensures power goes to that wheel with the most traction. An open differential sends power to the wheel with the least traction (e.g., a wheel spinning on ice).


    Most traction control systems use the ABS system and sensors (and sometimes will reduce engine output) to reduce wheel spin in order to maintain traction. BUT TC is NOT an acceleration enhancer.


    Stability control systems use the ABS/TC systems and additional sensors to compare where the computer thought you wanted to go to where you are going such that if it appears that you are about to fishtail it will brake whatever wheel is needed to ensure you maintain the appropriate course.


    NHTSA has extolled the safety virtues of stability control systems. They prevent things like rolling your car.


    GET ALL THESE SYSTEMS ON THE SPORTCROSS. ABS and TC are standard. LSD and VSC are options.
  • Riez,


    Thanks. Yah it seems like to get the most out of the sportcross, I will want to get everything on it, and since the VSD and the LSC are not very much (compared to the other options), might as well get them.


    How do people like the GPS form lexus? Boss just go the Acura RL and it is amazing. Have not seen the GPS that comes on the IS300 in 2004. Is it worth the money?


    Also, Does anybody know of a tow hitch for the sportcross? I have a Ducati motorcycle and I need to be able to trailer it to the track. Total weight of the trailer and the bike is undre 1000 lbs.
  • jmessjmess Posts: 677
    I don't know anyone who has done a hitch but I saved this link at one point.

  • chasmanchasman Posts: 16
    Hi brydymond,


    You wrote:

    "Even with TRAC, VSC, LSD and snows its still a wee bit scary every now and again."


    I would appreciate if you could elaborate about your 16" snow tire SC winter driving experiences. Also, which snow tire has worked best for you?



  • chasmanchasman Posts: 16
    How well does the RWD SC w/LSD & VSC handle long snow-covered hills?

  • chasmanchasman Posts: 16
    Obviously, 16" 55-series tires are better suited for winter tires. What about the rest of the year?


    17" wheels & tires will provide better handling. How much will they impact ride quality and increase the risk of pothole damage? Are 16" tires better suited for the rain-prone Mid-Atlantic? Are there any other considerations?


  • chasmanchasman Posts: 16
    While there isn't a TSX hatchback or WGN, the TSX does have a fold-down rear seat, rear side-curtains, 2 more cubic feet of passenger space, and better MPG.


    Any thoughts?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    chasman... I have yet to read a test report of a TSX with automatic transmission. I'm betting it is a dog. Remember, it is a 4-cyl car. The SC/IS uses the larger I6 that also has more torque. The SC only comes with AT.
  • chasmanchasman Posts: 16
    Hi riez,


    Thanks for the reply.

    "I have yet to read a test report of a TSX with automatic transmission."

    CR has reported on the AT TSX.


    "I'm betting it is a dog. Remember, it is a 4-cyl car."

    Yes, it does have less torque.


    Please see revised question:


    While there isn't a TSX hatchback or WGN, the TSX does have a fold-down rear seat, rear side-curtains, 2 more cubic feet of passenger space, better MPG, FWD (better for winter traction than SC?) and a choice of AT or 6-spd MT. Any other thoughts why the SC may be a better choice?
  • jmessjmess Posts: 677
    Go into a tight 2nd gear corner and get on the gas hard with both cars. Notice TSX increases understeer, has torque steer, and the inside tire spins because it doesn't have a limited slip. Go the same in the LSD equipped SC. Notice you can get on the gas a lot sooner and harder. Notice the lack of torque steer, notice the car rotates the rear end with the throttle. Notice how all this happens with very little drama. For fun try the same comparison with a TSX automatic.


    Now drive around for a day and notice how many SCs you see vs TSXs. Nobody even notices the TSX because they see one just like it every where. Nothing wrong with that but it gets kind of boring going to Costco and seeing 5 TSXs in the lot along with a million other Honda products.


    As far as winter traction goes both cars need winter tires to be safe. I find that most of my winter worries are caused by other drivers more than traction. Unless you have a helicopter you aren't going to get very far between traffic accidents when it get really slick.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Found the one you are referencing. November 2004 issue of CR.


    Out of their overall list of 21 "Sporty Sedans", CR has the IS300 in 4th ("Excellent") and the TSX in 8th ("Very Good"). As they put it, "If sporty performance is most important..." then they top rank the IS300. For a good balance of sportiness and comfort", they have the TSX ranked 6th.


    CR recommends both. IS300 has the best predicted reliability of all 21 cars!


    As I suspected, the AT TSX is an absolute dog. 0-60 mph in 9.2 seconds!!! The AT SC is about 1.5 seconds or more better according to published test results (around 7.4-7.7 seconds).
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986


    I'm so happy I'm in the State of Permanent Summer Tires (CA)! ;) BTW, the F1s have been exemplary in the wet, great in the dry, and are holding up well at 10K. I think I may get to 14K this time before I re-up. Good recommendation, jmess. Only downside I've noticed is a pretty fair dB difference as the tread has eroded. But ride, handling and traction have way more than made up.


    The SC is now at 20K and remains the joy to drive it has been since day one. People still ask me what it is and why haven't they heard of it.


    I understand your C6 lust with regard to muscle for fun. I myself am still casting longing looks in the direction of an S4 Avant. But when the SC lease is up in 15 months, unless Lexus shows me something dynamite in a compact wagon (not bloody likely), I'm really leaning toward the A3 Sportback 3.2 DSG.


    The A4, 3-series and IS are all getting up-sized, and frankly that doesn't interest me. I don't care to give up the RWD, but after having spent some time in a new TL, I realized that day in and day out I hate a car larger than the SC, even a really competent one. That's hate!


    Still, before it's all over, I may just fall to that V8 lust. Just the thought of stripping off the S4 badges and playing around town...
  • jmessjmess Posts: 677
    Wale, am still happy with the F1s also. I have a slight hearing problem already so I pretty much always drive any distance with ear plugs in. Really helps on a long trip when the wife is ranting about something; often provoked by me though.


    I really like the specs on the S4 Avant. I spent sometime in the previous twin turbo S4 and found it to be a fun car. The A3 look interesting also. I wouldn't hold your breath for Lexus to come out with something as interesting as the Avant.


    I have yet to drive a new C6 due to the limited number in my area. The supply is just starting to exceed the demand a bit so that might change pretty soon. I am really nervous about the legacy GM has with quality and customer sat.
  • chasmanchasman Posts: 16
    Can anyone recommend an independent Lexus mechanic in Grand Rapids, MI?

  • jmessjmess Posts: 677
    Well folks I sold my SportCross back to the original selling dealer today. I wanted a quick sale without having to spend a lot of time preping the car or dealing with the public. So they gave me average trade in which was fair considering my desire for a quick sale.

    I had a talk with my original sales guy and he said it was kind of funny that back in 02-03 they had a hard time selling these cars. Now that they hardly ever get one they have people ask for them. So they see the rarity of the SportCross as a good addition to their current used car mix which had 3 sedans.

    Another note is they struggled a bit about buying the car due to the Intensa Blue Pearl color. The comment was a few years ago the IBP color sold really fast. Lately they haven't been selling well. So color choice can have an impact on the value of cars over time.

    Anyway it was a great car that only something like a C6 could really replace. I highly recommend these cars and I was also impressed with Lexus in general. So now I have to wait for my C6 to be delivered and drive a Honda van every day. So it goes.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    You pulled the trigger on the C6?

    Weh-hell, congrats big guy! Oh I'll bet you're going to have a blast!

    Sorry to hear that your SC is gone, as there's one less person to talk to, but I'm happy you took the plunge.

    In a way, it's like peer pressure. I may just have to give much more serious consideration to the S4 Avant and give up the notion of the A3 3.2!

This discussion has been closed.