Tuesday, April 16, 2019

2003 Lexus IS300 Sportcross - A Rare, Cool Lexus

When was the last time you saw one of these? Have you ever seen one of these? This is not a common car.

The Sportcross was a station wagon version of Lexus' IS300 sedan. If you loved the driving experience of a BMW 3 Series, but wanted the reliability of a Lexus, the IS300 was your answer.

The Sportcross has a 3 liter inline six. It's the same engine found in the Toyota Supra. It moved the car to 60MPH in 7.5 seconds. That's about the same time as a 2003 325iT with an automatic. (Lexus did not offer a manual transmission on the IS300 in North America.)

I've always thought that Lexus' from this era were somewhat bland looking. That's not the case with the Sportcross. It's practical but sporty looking.

The interior is where the IS300 really shined. Other cars from Lexus had interiors that looked more Buick than European. The IS300's interior has has a sporty look that is all its own.

About that interior... Lexus has a well earned reputation for making incredibly well built, reliable cars. The IS300 is no different, but it has one, somewhat odd, issue. The dashboards melted. This was also a problem on other Toyota models built from 2003 through 2010. Toyotaproblems.com describes it like this:

"Dashboards in Toyota vehicles dating back to 2003 are melting under the heat of the sun. The melted plastic cracks, warps, and oozes a strange, gooey substance that is oddly shiny and sticky; like something you’d find in a toddler’s coat pocket. The problem is at its worst in areas of high heat and humidity, but reports of melting dashboards have come from all over. The issue isn’t just cosmetic. The sticky surface reflects a strong glare that can temporarily blind drivers and create dangerous driving situations, and owners have voiced concern that melted areas, particularly around the airbags, can prevent a deployment in a crash."
Toyota eventually issued a recall, but took their sweet time doing it. The pre-recall common fix was to replace the dashboard with one from an earlier model (which looked similar, but didn't melt). That's what the owner of this car did.

This car looks to be in very nice condition. The seller says the timing belt has been done and the tires are new. The body has a few minor blemishes, but nothing serious.

The main competition for the IS300 were the the BMW 325iT, Audi A4 Avant and the Saab 9-5 SportCombi. All are good to great cars in their own right. But, if you're looking for something unique with Japanese reliability, the IS300 Sportcross is the way to go.

This car is located in "North San Diego County." Click here to see the Craigslist ad.

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