Home Automotive AdviceMods, Tuning, and Performance Lexus IS300 2JZ – A Marriage Between Luxury And Power

Lexus IS300 2JZ – A Marriage Between Luxury And Power

by Jordan Harris
Lexus IS300 2JZ

The launch of the Lexus proved that Toyota is more than capable of rolling with the big-time German car companies. While Toyota was known for the reliability offered with their cars, which are also cheap, the company never earned a reputation as a luxury car company. Lexus IS300 2JZ was created to compete with the BMW 3 series.

The launch of LS400 was the first statement that Lexus made, proving that Toyota is more than capable of making luxury cars. The Lexus IS300 is a luxury sports sedan that is very close to par with the BMW 3 series.

While the Lexus isn’t the fastest of all cars but it has a great weight-to-power ratio. Better than most of its competitors. Lexus is also famous for its reliability, it’s made to last for decades it can go through many owners but still look and perform like it’s brand new, as long as it is maintained by the book.

Connection Between Toyota And Lexus

It is often confused that the Lexus is an independent brand that stands alone. But the company is owned by Toyota. Even though Toyota owns Lexus they aren’t the same.

Toyota has complete ownership over the Lexus brand. Toyota has its headquarters in Toyota City, Japan, and even if Lexus is owned by Toyota, Lexus operations are headquartered in Nagoya, Japan. Since the early 2000s, Lexus has been using its own centers for design, engineering, and manufacturing. So, even though Toyota owns Lexus, the company operates independently.

In 1983 Toyota started Project F1 based on a challenge set by chairman Eiji Toyoda. Project F1’s aim was to build the best car. This project lasted several years and involved market researchers doing studies in California of the lifestyles and tastes of wealthy Americans. One of the purposes of this project was to explore the American market. Only by understanding what the people want, can they build a car that will have positive sales.

The project lasted for 6 years and Project F1 was completed in 1989. This resulted in the launch of Lexus. Lexus was the new luxury brand under Toyota that focused on luxury exports for international markets. This comprised of a network of 81 new Lexus dealerships in the United States.

January 1989 marked the launch of Lexus of America. The Lexus LS400 made an iconic entrance into the luxury sedan market at its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Critics cited the quality, performance, aerodynamics, comfortable interior, and more.

As of 2019, Lexus has sold over ten million units, while surviving multiple international recessions.

Evolution Of The Lexus IS300

Lexus first released its first IS300 model, in 1998 in Japan. It was ‘Altezza’ which meant ‘highness’ in Italian. It was an entry-level sports car which was desired by a lot of customers. The first appearance of the IS 200 was in 1999.

It was released the following year in North America under the name the Lexus IS300.

First Generation, 1999-2005

You could choose between a sedan or a wagon, in the first generation of the IS300. These cars were powered with an inline-6 engine which would remain as the standard option until a second generation was introduced in 2005.

These cars were assembled in Kanegasaki, Japan with an exterior design performed by Tomoyasu Nishi, with a later refresh in 2003 by Hiroyuki Tada envisioned in 2002. The IS300 sedan was offered as a 4-d00r, and the wagon-style was offered as a 5-door hatchback.

The first-gen IS300 was equipped with a 2L engine which was paired with a 5-speed A650E in an automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.

Second Generation, 2005-2013

The next generation of IS300s was launched in 2005. But the car was released as the 2006 model and had its production through 2013. These cars were assembled at two plants, namely, the Tahara plant and Miyata plant in Japan under Kengo Matsumoto’s design.

The 2nd generation was when the IS300 really tapped into its sports side. It was offered as a 2-door convertible and a 4-door sedan with a front-engine layout and a rear-wheel drive, and a front-engine four-wheel drive option.

Engine options were 2.2.-liter inline-4, a 2.5-liter V6, a 3.0-liter V6, a 3.5-liter V6, and a 5.0-liter  V8. These were matched with either a 6-speed manual or automatic, or an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Lexus IS300 2JZ Specifications

Some say the Lexus IS300 is a luxuriously built car, with a heart of a Supra. But how powerful is the Lexus in reality? Can it ever compete with a sports car like the  Supra? And how good is the Lexus IS300 2JZ engine?

Performance Of The Lexus IS300 2JZ

The Lexus IS300 2JZ-GE is the engine that propels this machine. Its configuration is a 3.0L six-cylinder. This is pretty much the exact same engine in the Supra. Minus a few turbos and some slight differences, the Supra and the IS300 share the same engine. So, the Lexus is definitely a luxury car with the heart of a Supra.

Without the turbos, the Lexus IS300 2JZ cannot generate the power the Supra does. It only generates 241 hp along with 258 pounds per feet torque. But this is the stock engine. You can easily add the 2 turbos, and get the power output close to the numbers produced by Supra.

The 2JZ is definitely an iconic engine. It is so overbuilt that it is much more powerful than people think. According to Jalopnik, the Skyline GT-R and Autozam AZ-1 were the results of the Lexus IS300 2JZ engine. Further mentioning that with the proper tuning the power output can easily be tripled.

The Lexus IS300 2JZ can sprint from 0 to 60 in just over 6 seconds. For a quarter-mile, it takes less than 15 seconds.  In the 2021 Lexus IS300, there is also a larger 3.5L engine V6 option that spills out 260hp. This can get your Lexus shoot much faster.

This engine is combined with an 8-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters. For an engine this big it can still get 21 miles per gallon in the city and up to 30 miles per gallon on a highway.

Lexus IS300 2JZ Interior And Safety Features

Just like they overdid it with the power of the Lexus IS300 2JZ the same can be seen in the interior. Along with an incredibly spacious cabin, the features that it offers can also be considered extraordinary.

Lexus IS300 interior offers a fully-loaded cabin with advanced technology systems so you can tune into your favorite stations, as well and top of the line safety features to keep you protected on the road. Drivers and passengers will definitely enjoy the luxury interior design and updated amenities.

The standard Lexus IS300 interior and safety features include a 10.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display, Rain-Sensing Wipers, G-force, Lexus Enform App Suite, HomeLink System, Illuminated Entry System, and turbo-boost displays, Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System, Backup Camera with Dynamic Guidelines, Smart Stop Technology, Blind Spot Monitor, Voice Command along with many more.

With all these safety features the Lexus IS300 is a safe place to be. Not to forget the humungous lineup of interior features. These will help to make your car, safe comfortable and a joy to drive.

Lexus IS300 2JZ Problems

Before you consider buying any car, you need to educate yourself about the problems associated with that car. Just like every other car, the Lexus IS300 has its own set of problems. Here are some of the most common problems associated with the IS300.

1. Lexus IS300 2JZ Problem – Hesitant Acceleration

Owners of the are IS300 complaint that there is a hesitation that occurs between throttle application and transmission engagement. However this only seems to happen in automatic transmissions, where the driver will step on the gas pedal and the engine revs, but the car doesn’t accelerate for a few seconds. The problem seems to be more common while driving at low speeds.

Lexus IS300 2JZ

There were a few accounts where the owners have tried to fix this issue by replacing, fixing, or adjusting the throttle cable. However, replacing the throttle cable costs $250 to $350 or more to fix.

2. Lexus IS300 2JZ Problem – Radiator Cracks Around The Neck

Stock IS300s come with Denso radiators, which use plastic tubing. After a while, the neck that connects the hose to the intake will crack. If the radiator cracks while driving, a pressurized hot coolant will spray all over the engine bay. Other than the fact that the engine will be dripping all over the place with the coolant fluid, if you continue to drive without the cooling fluid, you can end up with an overheated engine or worse, a blown engine.

As a solution for this problem, Mishimoto makes a performance radiator that uses metal tubing for $280. It’s a decent price and could protect the engine from severe overheating damage.

3. Lexus IS300 2JZ Problem – Air In The Cooling System

Many IS300 owners complain of a “gurgling” sound from the car. Experienced owners have pointed this out as air trapped in the heater core. There aren’t many ways to solve this issue. The best and most common solution that users take is to bleed the fluid dry.

The IS300 doesn’t have a bleeder screw, so the radiator cap must be removed. You have to leave the engine running until the radiator fan kicks in, then just shut it off and replace the escaped air with more coolant. It is a good idea to replace the radiator cap with a funnel during this process. It’ll help keep the coolant from spewing everywhere.

Keep in mind, after this process, flushing the radiator could become a regular maintenance requirement.

4. Lexus IS300 2JZ Problem – AC Servo Failure

The AC servo failure starts as a clicking sound inside the dash, followed by an unresponsive climate control system. When this happens, it likely means one out of the four servo motors is malfunctioning. The driver servo is under the dash on the driver’s side, and the remaining three are in the same area under the passenger side dash.

Cleaning the servo motor can be done using isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab. Cleaning may be a more viable option than replacement if you’re trying to save money, as a new servo motor will cost around $15o.

Just like every other car, the Lexus IS300 does consist of a few problems here and there. These sorts of problems are expected no matter what car you buy.

Lexus IS300 2JZ

If you look at the abovementioned problems, they are not major issues. Except for the issue with the radiator, there aren’t many other problems that will directly affect a major component of your car. And fixing these issues is also relatively cheap. Unlike an engine or transmission problem that could end up costing you thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Other than the above-mentioned problems, there aren’t many more problems to report about the IS300. Since it is a product of Toyota it is expected to be highly reliable. The IS300 delivers with its reliability, and the reliability is better than most of its competitors.

Why Should You Consider A Lexus IS300?

Even though there are some problems, the IS300 is still an epic car. Even if some of the problems make you think against this car, there are reasons that encourage purchasing a Lexus.

This car is famous for being luxurious and reliable exactly what you want for your daily commute to work or long journeys. And it delivers as promised and there aren’t many cars better than the Lexus IS300 in its class. Here are the pros of owning a Lexus IS300, with or without the 2JZ.

1. Powerful Engine Choices

What’s perhaps most attractive about the 2021 Lexus IS300 is which can’t be seen at first glance. Under the hood of the IS300, there could be one of three engines. The standard IS300 engine is a 2L turbocharged version that can max out at around 241 horsepower.

The range is wider than you’d expect. If you want more power you could choose a 3.5-liter V6, which offers a maximum of 307 hp.

2. Fun To Drive

When sitting behind the wheel of a Lexus IS300, people will notice that the steering wheel is equipped with paddle shifters. These shifters let people manually control when the gears shift, and they can make the drive even thrilling, whether up-shifting or down-shifting. This particular feature further contributes to the idea that the IS is a true sports sedan.

Someone could easily picture the IS300 being perfectly at home on a race track. It is incredible to see this sedan fit so well into the world of sports cars.

3. Technology

The technology that builds the IS300 is so underrated. This marvelous technology that is associated with this car is ofter buried on all the other perks that it offers.

Every trim of the 2021 Lexus IS300 comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto built into it, so drivers can have access to their phones in a safe manner. A 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on every IS300 in case anyone wants to upgrade.

In addition to the above, there is a remote touchpad, Bluetooth along with two USB ports, and SiriusXM. Because the car can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot, it can support people’s ability to keep working online or streaming media content from the road.

With the official, the Lexus app owners can turn their engines on, check on maintenance recommendations, and schedule service. The Lexus Enform Remote, which is standard on the IS300, is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. This makes it easy to find information without having to take your phone out of your pockets.

4. Sound System

Available on every Lexus IS300 is a Mark Levinson sound system. This premier system has 17 speakers, which is an astonishing number. It’s a powerful system with 1,800 watts, which is more than most cars on the road. The system uses, Quantum Logic Surround Technology to enhance the listening experience.

The sound system that Lexus offers is much better than most of the home-based sound systems that you can purchase. If you listen to this car, you might end up spending time in your car, while it is in the driveway, just to hear a few of your favorite tunes.

5. Navigation

The IS300 can come with the Lexus Inform Dynamic Navigation system. This is a cloud-based service that continually stays updated. The navigation program can provide users with multiple routes, and they all take traffic into account.

6. Stunning Look

When looking at the IS300, it almost seems like it’s moving even when it’s not. The front of the car has slim Bi-LED headlamps that curve towards the center of the sporty, front grille, and it has sculptural elements in its frame that make it look more aerodynamic.

In the rear, there are LED taillamps that have a unique, angled design. The F Sport is further improved with special bumpers and a lip spoiler, and its available carbon fiber rear spoiler can be a nice finishing touch

7. Sophisticated Cabin

The 2021 Lexus IS300 consists of an impeccable safety system. The Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 comes with numerous driver-assist technologies. These technologies are designed to watch out for potential issues, alert drivers to those problems, and find a solution for them if deemed necessary.

One example of a driver-assist safety feature is the pre-collision system. It can sense when the IS is about to hit a car, pedestrian, or any other obstruction in front of it. If this is the case, a warning will be given, and the IS300 will automatically apply pressure to the brakes to try to avoid the accident.

Another great example would be the lane departure alert with a steering assist. Because the IS has a monitor that can “read” lane markings, it knows when another vehicle is drifting out of a lane. If so, the driver will be alerted to the issue, and the car could steer itself back into the proper position.

8. Off-Road Capability

Even though the Lexus IS300 is considered a luxury sedan, the car is still capable of handling itself if the conditions get tough.

All-wheel drive is an option to consider with the new 2021 Lexus IS. The IS300 and the IS300 F Sport both offer all-wheel drive. When engaged, this feature sends power to the front and rear wheels. The automatic sensors make sure that the exact ratio of power delivery will depend on the situation.

These reasons should be enough to make anyone fall in love with the IS300 2JZ, and convince someone to get this onto their wishlist.


It doesn’t make sense to dump money on a car if there is a better option out there. So before you settled on buying an IS300 you need to consider other options in front of you. So, here’s how the IS300 compares with a couple of its competitors.

2021 Lexus IS300 Vs 2021 Audi A4

Audi’s A4 has a similar feel to the Lexus IS300. But the A4 cannot match the sporty flair provided by the IS. Importantly, the Audi A4 doesn’t have the same capabilities as seen in the Lexus. One of its engines can generate 201 horsepower, and the other option achieves 261 horsepower.  The standard Audi engine is much less stimulating than the standard Lexus engine is.

2021 Lexus IS300 Vs 2021 BMW 3-Series

Unlike the Audi A4, the BMW 3-Series runs a close fight with the Lexus IS300. One of the key advantages that the IS300 holds over BMW is that it is a lot cheaper.

The infotainment system on the BMW is solid, but many people may find Lexus’s system to be more user-friendly. Lexus IS300 has slightly higher horsepower than the BMW but The BMW does have the higher torque. And the cars are relatively similar except that the BMW has superior mileage.

Lexus IS300 Facts:

  • The Lexus IS300 was introduced in 2001 as Toyota’s answer to BMW’s 3-Series.
  • The IS300 is a sports sedan with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine known as the 2JZ-GE, which is similar to the engine found in the Toyota Supra.
  • The IS300 has a stock output of 215 hp and 218 lb-ft of torque, but it’s possible to triple the output with the proper tuning.
  • The IS300 is rear-wheel drive, and a 5-speed manual and a wagon, the SportCross, became available in 2002.
  • The TRD-tuned Lexus IS300 L-Tuned models come in Stage I and Stage II with body kits, fog lamps, a stainless-steel exhaust, new springs, larger anti-roll bars, cast-aluminum wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport tires.
  • The IS300’s chief engineer, Nobuaki Katayama, who also developed the AE86 Corolla and helped design World Rally Championship and Le Mans race cars, made sure the car delivered outstanding handling.
  • The IS300 has a 0-60 time of around 6.6 seconds, which is slower than the BMW 330i and 330i ZHP.
  • The IS300 has a reliable 2JZ engine, but finding clean stock ones can be tricky due to modifications over the years.
  • The 2001-2005 Lexus IS300 is not particularly problematic, except for the melting dashboard issue.
  • The average cost of the IS300 is around $11,000, but clean ones can go for almost $16,000 on Bring a Trailer, and SportCross models tend to go for $14,000-$16,000.

Verdict – Lexus IS300 2JZ

The 2JZ is a pretty solid motor and a great fit for IS300. Other than the rare instances where the timing belt snaps, there is not a lot to complain about.

The Lexus IS300 2JZ is a really good car and for the price tag attached to it. If you are looking to buy a sports sedan the IS300 is among the leaders of the pack and worth considering.

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