Artistic design inside and out does not extend to the driving experience. Cliff Leppke – CleanMPG – Dec. 17, 2020 The Lexus’ IS 300 wants to cure any-weather car sickness. One dose improves your mood. Alas, it won’t completely treat your automotive ennui. Why? This fun-size sports sedan, like some candy bars, it isn’t particularly nutritious. It doesn’t deliver this genre’s RDA, although a step-up model might un-curb your enthusiasm. Let’s begin with its wrapper—a low-slung Italianate body. It’s easy on the eyes. And there’s sharp lamp work as if the designer mastered marker rendering. Lexus kept its dimensions tidy. It fits most driveways and weaves through urban environs. Inside, the form-fitting leather-clad heated and chilled front buckets let you enjoy the 3.5-liter premium-fuel required 260-hp V-6 engine. It mates to a prompt-shifting unobtrusive six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a sport mode. While this doesn’t seem fast, it’s a lot like Joe Biden on Super Tuesday; they produce an impressive finish. Thus, you can skip the sports mode and paddles shifters and experience a smartly tuned drive train. Curiously, a rear-wheel-drive IS 300 has a smaller four-cylinder engine, whereas the AWD gets the V-6. The car’s number, therefore, doesn’t correspond with engine displacement. Some versions have an eight-speed automatic. The left front zone isn’t ideal for taller drivers. First, the AWD version’s center tunnel bulges inward massaging your right calf like a house cat. If you like cats, you’ll make friends with it. Otherwise, it hems you in. Second, there’s hardware atop the tall pedal. A protuberance thwarts a long-foot driver’s ability to press the go control. One must twist their foot sideways in order to compensate. Likewise, the copilot’s toe space is short. Its thick leather-clad steering wheel seems somnambulant and doesn’t promptly center at low speeds. It’s also a tad inert. Wind, engine and road noise are well hushed. You carve through a slalom with little body roll. Smart describes the decor. It’s padded and pampered with textured plastic panels aping brushed metal. The headliner is suede like. Plus, every pillar from front to back is swathed in this soft stuff. Those in back require cooperative front occupants; legroom is tight. The front seat backs are scooped out for more knee room. An upholstered panel hides brat-bucket attachment points. An assortment of airbags extends from front knees to rear sides. You get drive aids too: forward radar for the cruise control, blind-spot warning and lane keep assist. The latter is adjustable. It will vibrate the steering wheel or chime. But turning it off, when you’re attacking a roadway with brio, isn’t pushbutton simple. You’ve got to pull up an info-screen menu. Speaking of buttons, this Lexus offers good and lousy controls. Press to talk worked perfectly as a navigation aid. Neither my tricky words nor less-known locations tripped it. But Lexus’ computer mouse-like infotainment screen interface vexes. It’s a hot mess. You move a toggle pad, which sticks corresponding to on-screen selection points. Some quick-trip menu buttons are difficult to read. In addition, the sun visors don’t extend when swiveled to block side-window light. 2020 Lexus IS 300 Interior This Lexus’ trunk is nicely dressed—even upper regions, under the parcel shelf, are neatly carpeted. Despite its polish, driving the IS is about as engaging as getting a prescription refilled. Feedback through the controls is muted. It gets the job done; seemly routine in its execution. So, this IS is a capable sporty sedan--neither alert nor playful. Ride quality is neither plush nor punishing. The longitudinally mounted front engine hooks up to 17-inch Dunlops. Brakes feel effective and smart LED lighting aids nighttime vision. The trip computer said 24 mpg overall. The feds estimate 19 mpg city, 26 highway and 21 combined. At $47,125, Lexus tosses in a premium sound system, 10.5-inch infotainment screen and even slides the left front seat back for easy entrance. It isn’t, however, peppered with the legendary IS magic. Therefore, it’s not an automotive selective serotonin update inhibitor.