Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wagon Nation: 2002 Lexus IS300 SportCross

The first generation IS300 was built in Japan from 1998 through 2005 on what was called Toyota's N-platform, which shared many parts in its double wishbone front, multi-link rear, and front-engine rear-drive setup with the Lexus GS, SC, and JDM Chaser, Mark II and Crown.  The IS300 was the sportier of the small Lexus sedans and was available in a cool wagon shape called the SportCross.  Find this 2002 Lexus IS 300 SportCross offered for $7,997 via, located in St Charles, IL. Tip from Tinyfrogs.

While the Lexus may lack the dynamic response of the BMW, the status of the Benz or the road-hugging Quattro from Audi- it beats all of them in reliability and cost of ownership.  While Audi owners are at the dealer getting coil packs replaced, BMW owners are dealing with cooling issues (again...) and Mercedes owners are waiting to know the latest electrical diagnosis - Lexus owners are sipping lattes at Starbucks.

Powering the IS300 is a 2JZ-GE 3.0 inline 6 with variable value timing putting out 215 horsepower and 218 ft-lbs of torque.  The 2JZ-GE isn't a monster like the 2JZ-GTE, but it features the same cast iron block, dual overhead cam 24-valve head and robust accessories as the GTE version, just without the added boost and a few little things like oil squirters. 

The regular IS300 sedan was available with a 5-speed DIY gearbox, but the SportCross version was only available with an autobox -- bad if you like rowing your own gears, but good if you need to do things like swat your children while you are driving...not that I'd condone that kind of behavior. 

See another turkey leg shifter equipped wagon with identity crisis floormats?


  1. What is it with automakers who fail to understand that there's wagons, there's hatchbacks, but anything in between is just comedy gold?

    Please guys, it's one thing, or the other, or it's Caitlyn.

  2. Wasnt the jdm version an altezza? The car that started the horrid clear taillight trend of the early 00's?

    1. Yes, a Toyota Altezza. Yeah, the clear-lights thing sucks whether rice or sauerkraut.

      The sedans were very pretty. This just doesn't quite get there.

      Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. I always forget they made these, as well as the tsx wagon and the Jag x wagon.

    Yes, the tail lights make me hurl. I would red spray them or do a red film wrap on them asap.

    1. The X-type wagon was surprisingly attractive, and it was a 'real' wagon. Even moreso than the E46 BMW, the excessively 'busy' detailing of the X-type was somewhat subdued by the longroof body and came out better for it.

      The Japanese lost the plot regarding wagons sometime back in the '80s, they used to do nice ones (see that 510, or the 610 that followed) but then they drifted into high-roofed paleo-crossovers, and weird androgynous sorts of swollen hatchbacks like this.

      It's a shame that Cadillac followed that pattern with the CTS wagon, it coulda been great. I would give most - maybe all - of the contents of my driveway for one of these.

  4. Not quite as awkward as a VehiCross, in appearance or syntax. Still, the wagon-esque shape pulls at me heartstrings (sniff). Remember how the promo materials for this whip alluded to the gauges as "chronograph influenced"? Like the tail lights, a look that really tried too hard to be cool. But damn if they didn't sell a whole crap-ton of them on eBay that made their way onto every other Civic, Integra and Sentra on the road for a half decade.

    I always dug the look of these (after the hypothetical tail tint film job-thank you, Scott) but-and I may be mixed up here-I think it was Mrkwong who pointed out some significant ergonomic issues with these in a previous feature..?

    1. I'm a big fan of the Sportcross wagon and would love to own one, eventually LS1T56 swapping it. They are rare birds and have been getting hard to find at a fair price. RWD wagons with no difficult to hack electrical systems are tough to find and the IS300 Sportcross is a very small car with a nimble driving feel, almost too small but it works.

  5. Kinda looks like a scaled up Mazda 3 Sport from around the same era.



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