I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit weary of all the news saying that cars are dead and SUVs now rule the road. The fact is, well designed cars that deliver good value still have a strong…

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD Road Test

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
Lexus added more sport to its compact D-segment IS sport sedan last year, and it continues forward into 2018 unchanged, other than some trim name shuffling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit weary of all the news saying that cars are dead and SUVs now rule the road. The fact is, well designed cars that deliver good value still have a strong following in Canada, a point proven by the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf in the mainstream volume compact class and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Acura TLX and Lexus IS in the compact luxury D-segment. 

All of these cars actually grew their year-over-year sales in calendar year 2017, something that can’t be said about the Infiniti Q50 and Cadillac ATS. To be fair to Infiniti, when combining sales of its Q60 Coupe with the Q50, deliveries were actually up last year, which is also true for the IS and Lexus RC coupe, despite the latter being slow to move off dealer lots, while ATS sales numbers include both sedan and coupe models (like Mercedes does with its C-Class sedan, coupe and convertible), and showed a much deeper year-over-year decline. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
New LED taillights and a fresh set of rectangular tailpipes denote the updated 2017/2018 design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Aiding last year’s IS series sales success was a dramatic refresh for the 2017 model year, this being the first significant update since this third-generation model was completely redesigned for 2014. F-Sport trim already boasted a fairly aggressive front fascia as seen in my 2014 and 2016 IS 350 F-Sport reviews, but last year’s update made it more akin to the RC F Sport, which left room to beef up the non-F Sport trimmed IS 200t and IS 300 AWD models. 

The result is a look that might even be more eye-catching than the previous F Sport model, with Lexus’ trademark spindle grille growing in size, the headlamps reshaped to a simpler design and equipped with standard LEDs, and the lower front fascia now much bolder thanks to larger, deeper and considerably more pronounced corner “brake” ducts. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
A larger spindle grille, new standard LED headlamps, and more aggressive corner ducts can be found on non-F Sport trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That these faux vents only look cool is a shame. Rather than forcing cooling air onto those brakes, these aero detractors actually create wind resistance, but it’s possible some increased downforce enhances high-speed handling. 

The checkmark-shaped LED driving lights remain unchanged, as do the car’s swoopy bodyside panels the sweep upward in dramatic fashion before tapering off over the rear wheel cutouts, but the seemingly identical LED taillights receive new lenses and innards. Lastly, a slightly reworked matte black diffuser-like lower bumper cap features new angular tailpipes, doing their part to modernize the rear end design. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
A closer look at the new headlamps show some nice LED lenses shining from within. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As noted in last year’s IS 350 AWD F Sport review, I’m not willing to say that Lexus’ bigger and bolder design departure necessarily translates into better, but some of the changes made are noticeable improvements, particularly inside where gorgeous new light on dark laminated wood inlays decorate the dash front and door switchgear panels. 

The IS has always provided good perceived interior quality, with soft touch composites in all the expected places, nice tastefully applied metallic accents throughout, mostly high quality switchgear, and particularly good digital displays, despite this less expensive model not featuring Lexus’ fully configurable gauge cluster found in last year’s pricier alternative. Audi fans might find the look a bit cluttered, Lexus preferring an origami-inspired multi-angle interior design to match exterior styling, rather than anything organically grown. Consider it the Nakamichi Dragon of instrument panels, with lots of little buttons, knobs and toggles atop a hard-edged black metal and composite structure, the infotainment system’s unique albeit somewhat archaic joystick-style controller also seeming to try and take us back to the days of cassette decks and turntables. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
These gorgeous 18-inch mesh alloy wheels are optional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you used Lexus’ Remote Touch Interface in the past and haven’t tried it in a while, take note that it’s improved a lot. Side buttons for selecting functions were added a few years back, eliminating the frustration of having the joystick slip off course when pressing on top, and the system’s haptic response, which feels as if it’s locking onto a given link as the curser passes over, isn’t quite as grabby. Most people seem to like this setup better than RTI 2.0, which is a lower console-mounted touchpad design laid out in quadrants, this found on some other Lexus models, but I’d much rather have the display screen moved closer and a straightforward touchscreen installed. Toyota, Lexus’ parent company’s namesake brand, does a great job with its touchscreens, plus its new Entune system is fabulous (Lexus Enform, which is basically the same thing, is currently only available on the 2018 NX, RC, RC F, LS, and LC), so I’m looking forward to Lexus saying goodbye to all of these creative controllers and delivering a much simpler RTI 3.0 soon. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
A fabulous new LED taillight design adds some sensational nighttime drama. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As noted the actual display is superb, and was upgraded from the standard 7.0-inch screen to 10.3 inches thanks to the addition of a $4,850 Luxury Package that also added accurate navigation and a single in-dash DVD player (yes, another throwback to yesteryear) to the infotainment system, plus 18-inch alloys on 225/40 front and 255/35 tires (replacing standard 17s that look a bit small on this car), adaptive cornering headlamps, a powered steering column, a heatable steering wheel rim, ventilated front seats, driver’s seat memory, auto-dimming side mirrors with memory, front and rear parking sensors, a powered moonroof, a powered rear sunshade, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
Rectangular tailpipes and a revised diffuser-style bumper cap enhance the changes in back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This was all added to my otherwise base IS 300 AWD, which other than a standard backup camera comes outfitted identically to the rear-wheel drive IS 300 (that strangely doesn’t have one), including the aforementioned LED headlamps that are also auto-leveling, plus proximity keyless access, pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, a windshield wiper de-icer, a great looking analogue clock, filtered dual-zone auto climate control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio, USB and aux ports, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, satellite radio, Siri Eyes-Free, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, heatable eight-way powered front sport seats with vertically powered headrests and powered driver’s lumbar support, NuLuxe (pleather) upholstery, stainless steel scuff plates, and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks expanding on the smallish 306-litre (10.8 cubic-foot) trunk. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
The IS interior is mostly impressive, but there’s still room for improvement. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

All IS trims receive the usual assortment of safety features as well, plus a knee airbag for both front occupants, rear side-thorax airbags, and finally the Lexus Safety System+ suite of advanced driver assistance systems, which adds a Pre-Collision System featuring forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control. The result of Lexus’ focus on safety is IIHS Top Safety Pick status, minus the best-possible “Plus” rating, while the NHTSA gives it a five-star safety rating with extra notes saying that it’s had zero complaints, zero investigations, and zero recalls. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
A snug cockpit provides small to medium sized drivers a sporty seating position. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Another difference between RWD and AWD IS 300 models is the chosen transmission, the RWD model getting a sophisticated eight-speed automatic and this AWD version making do with a less appealing (at least from a marketing perspective) six-speed autobox. The eight-speed unit includes quicker shifting Sport Direct Shift Control too, transmission technology originally designed for the IS F, although the six-speed is a Super Electronically Controlled Transmission (Super ECT), whatever that means. Suffice to say that one is built for comfort and one for speed, with the AWD model getting smooth, linear response to input, but not the fastest shift interval times. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
Lexus offers a fully configurable digital gauge cluster for this car, but the standard setup uses analogue dials and a large multi-info display instead. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This brings us to the real meat of the IS 300 RWD/AWD issue, the former actually being last year’s IS 200t with a new name. Isn’t that sneaky? The only difference between the 2017 IS 200t and the 2018 IS 300 is the badge on the trunk lid, being that both have identical 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines making 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Oddly, while the IS 300 AWD being tested here includes a carryover 3.5-litre V6, output has been bumped by 5 horsepower to 260, with torque remaining the same at 236 lb-ft. And yes you read that right, the little turbo-four makes an additional 22 lb-ft of torque, plus max twist arrives 350 rpm sooner within the rev range at 1,650 instead of 2,000. Both engines get direct injection and Lexus’ Dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), and have a reputation for quality and dependability. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
The multi-tiered centre stack is awash in high quality switchgear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As you can likely imagine the smaller engine is better on fuel, its Transport Canada rating claimed to be 10.6 L/100km in the city, 7.3 on the highway and 9.1 combined, while the V6 gets an estimated 12.3 city, 9.1 highway and 10.9 combined. 

While the base IS 300 seems like the better choice on paper, it will really come down to personal preference and/or price, with the RWD model starting at $41,050 and the AWD version hitting the road at $43,600, plus freight and fees of course, these prices found at CarCostCanada.com, along with important information about possible rebates and even invoice pricing that can save you thousands when purchasing. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
The larger 10.3-inch infotainment display is a split-screen that’s capable of multitasking, but unfortunately it’s not a touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Seat of the pants differences include a sportier, edgier, lighter weight feel from the IS 300 RWD compared to a smoother, more refined, and arguably more premium experience in the IS 300 AWD, with the latter also delivering a more satisfying exhaust growl. Still, while the AWD model comes across as a bit less enthusiastic, it’s nevertheless a sporty sedan that’s plenty of fun to charge down a deserted side road and throw into a fast-paced corner. You’ll be more likely to do that mid-winter in the AWD version as well, which might be reason enough to choose the 70-kilo (154-lb) heavier model—the IS 300 RWD weighs in at 1,625 kg (3,583 lbs) and the as-tested IS 300 AWD hits the scales at 1,695 kg (3,737 lbs). 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
Now that’s one great looking analogue clock. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Another alternative that deserves mention is the IS 350 AWD noted earlier. It remains at the top of this car’s trim echelon, hefting an identical curb weight to the IS 300 AWD and powered by the same 3.5-litre V6, yet making 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It starts at a reasonable $53,100 and comes standard with many of the same features that were optional on my IS 300 AWD tester, so it’s worth a look if you’ve got your eye on an IS. 

Purchasing in mind, Lexus is no longer at the top of some third-party quality indexes, with the most recent 2018 J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) placing Hyundai’s luxury division Genesis in the lead and Toyota’s luxury division improving on last year’s best of the rest score (below average at 15th overall and sixth amongst 14 luxury brands) to eighth overall and fourth amongst luxury brands. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
This is Lexus’ aging Remote Touch Interface, and it’s time to replace the entire system with a touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Keep in mind that J.D. Power “quality” factors are murky at best, being that quality has as much to do with complaints about owners’ difficulties using infotainment system interfaces as cars breaking down at the side of the road, yet an improvement of 11 points, which resulted in Lexus’ sole two-digit (99-point) score, makes it number one overall in the same firm’s 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which also means it’s no longer tied for first place with Porsche. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
A great driver’s seat is nothing new from Lexus. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Consumer Reports annual reliability survey (fortunately renamed “Annual Report on Car Performance, Reliability, Satisfaction & Safety”) rated Lexus number one last year, but like J.D. Power, that lead was trumped by South Korea’s Genesis for 2018, with the Japanese brand actually falling all the way down to fourth behind Audi and BMW. This said the study includes experiential road test analysis from their own team of reviewers, information that is hardly data driven and therefore has nothing to do with reliability. There are other studies that rank Lexus first or close to it, especially when dependability is the core criterion being compared, so suffice to say it’s one of the safer bets when it comes to short and long term reliability. 

2018 Lexus IS 300 AWD
The rear seating area is a bit tighter than the class average, but the outboard positions are comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As for resale values, the IS ranked second in the 2017 Canadian Black Book Best Retained Value Award’s “Entry Luxury Car” category, but it didn’t make the top three for 2018 (the ES ranked third in the same category this year). The Mercedes CLA was first, incidentally, a smaller car that doesn’t directly compete with the IS, while the Volvo XC70 was second, this being a discontinued crossover wagon that really can’t be considered entry-level luxury as it was sized larger and priced higher than the more comparative V60 Cross Country, their true entry crossover wagon. More specific to the IS, there’s no reason to think this 2018 model’s resale value will be any weaker than it was when it placed second last year. 

After all, the 2018 Lexus IS delivers strong performance, impressive comfort, good quality, a wide assortment of features, a fairly long list of advanced safety systems, better than average expected reliability, and reasonable value when comparing it to similarly equipped German competitors. It’s one of the smarter choices in its class.

Why does the Chrysler 300 outsell every mid- and full-size premium-branded luxury sedan as well as all the mainstream volume branded luxury four-doors in the U.S. and Canada? Because it’s been so very…

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
The 300 still has plenty of presence after all these years. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Why does the Chrysler 300 outsell every mid- and full-size premium-branded luxury sedan as well as all the mainstream volume branded luxury four-doors in the U.S. and Canada? Because it’s been so very good for so very long that it’s developed a near cult-like following.

Let’s be honest for a moment. Chrysler hasn’t done much particularly well over the past dozen or so years. In fact, since its 2005 high of 695,546 unit sales, its annual tally in the two northernmost North American countries plunged to just 248,023 models last year, which has as much to do with consumers’ waning interest in mid- to full-size four-door sedans and high-end minivans, as the winged blue ribbon brand’s succession of multinational parents starving it of investment.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
The 300’s upright stance gives it a solid, masculine look that’s remained very appealing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

When I started out as a fledgling car writer at the turn of the millennia, Chrysler was a very hot property with a host of cab-forward designs that were the envy of every domestic brand and a number of imports. These included the compact Neon (it was a Dodge in the U.S.), the mid-size Cirrus sedan, the Sebring Coupe and Convertible, and the full-size Intrepid (also a Dodge in the U.S.), Concorde, 300M (this model’s front-drive predecessor) and LHS (yes, four unique luxury sedans under one brand name), plus the Town and Country minivan.

That already sizeable model lineup grew to include the PT Cruiser (a massive hit) and Prowler (this latter one due to the demise of Plymouth) in 2001, plus the Cirrus was swapped out for the new Sebring Sedan that year as well, while 2004 added the Mercedes SLK-derived Crossfire sports coupe (soon to include a roadster) and Pacifica mid-size crossover SUV. A key reason for Chrysler’s ultra-strong 2005 sales was the introduction of the model shown on this page. The 300 took North American roads by storm, while the Dodge Durango-based Aspen SUV was added in 2007.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
The 300 may be getting on in years, but its standard tech is impressive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To help paint a picture of just how far Chrysler has fallen, back in the day the place to be at a major auto show was the Chrysler stage, with concepts like the 1993 300 four-door coupe (it made me this import fan want to own a Chrysler), 1995 Atlantic coupe, 1996 LHX luxury sedan, 1997 Phaeton four-door convertible, 1998 Chronos four-door coupe (to die for gorgeous), 1999 Java (the small car they should’ve built), 2000 300 Hemi C Convertible (absolutely stunning), 2004 ME Four-Twelve mid-engine supercar (we were all shocked beyond belief at this well-kept secret), 2005 Firepower (possibly my favourite of all), and 2006 Imperial (you can’t win ‘em all, but it showed the premium vision Chrysler’s powers that be had for the brand at the time).

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
Gorgeous primary gauges are filled with a large colour TFT multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

After that it was as if Chrysler lost its ability to dream, with the awkward 2007 Nassau, the boring 2008 EcoVoyager, the pretty albeit too production-ready 200C EV, the Lancia-based “Design Study Concept” (even the name was boring… it’s written up as one of the 25 worst concepts ever created, and actually became the Euro-only 2012 Chrysler Delta), nothing at all for 2011, and the strangely contorted 700C minivan concept for 2012. Sadly, the most exciting Chrysler concepts to come along in years were the 2012 Chrysler Review GT and 2013 Imperial, which were only renderings and not even penned by Chrysler.

Not a single notable Chrysler concept was created from 2013 through 2016, with this year’s Portal being a boxy electric people mover that could’ve just as easily been imported from the wacky Tokyo auto show. If it weren’t for the new Pacifica minivan, I’d say Chrysler has lost its vision as a brand.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
Limited trim adds leather upholstery and much more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This said Chrysler’s entire future is riding on a handsome and very well built minivan, but a minivan just the same. If it were a compact or mid-size crossover SUV, that would be something to really build on in today’s market, but minivan numbers (other than the budget priced Dodge Grand Caravan) are stable at best.

The mid-size 200 family sedan is still available as a 2017 model, but according to FCA it’s being cancelled to make way for more SUVs. A shame as it’s selling fairly well (just below the Nissan Altima and ahead of the Kia Optima, Volkswagen Passat/CC, Subaru Legacy, and Mazda6 in Canada), which means when it gets discontinued later this year its 64,213 collective U.S. and Canadian sales (188,850 in 2015 before they announced the cancellation) will make a significant dent in Chrysler’s total head count.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
How do the rear seats measure up? Check back to find out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

A minivan and well-seasoned full-size luxury sedan won’t make up for those kind of numbers (56,903 last year and probably about 100,000 this year, respectively), which means the brand’s sales could even fall below Mitsubishi in the immediate future (and that would be very low).

I know I paint a bleak picture, but I’m stating nothing new to anyone who follows the auto industry. Chrysler’s been kept alive thanks to Dodge branded models that have, up until now, shared underpinnings, and most often sold in greater numbers. With the Avenger gone the 200 wasn’t able to sustain itself, so we’ll have to wait and see if FCA allows the Pacifica (which no longer shares anything other than the powertrain with the Grand Caravan) to remain solely a Chrysler, or if the automaker finally breaks down and builds a cheaper Dodge version in order to pull up sales volumes.

2017 Chrysler 300 AWD Limited
That’s a Beats Audio boombox on the right side of the trunk. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Charger sedan, which attracted 76 more buyers last year than the 300, and to some extent the Challenger sports coupe that also shares the LX architecture, allows Chrysler’s flagship to exist. The two sedans will probably run mostly unchanged through 2018, at which point we’ll find out if replacements are currently in the works or not.

As it is, the second-generation Chrysler 300 before you is now a seven-year old model, which is pretty ancient for this day and age. The fact that it’s still so very good is testament to how advanced it was when it came out in 2011, not to mention how phenomenal the original 2005 model was when it arrived in 2004. Why does that 13-year old model matter? Because the LX platform architecture the current model rides upon is the same. To the 300’s credit, many of the original car’s components were shared with the 2003–2009 W211 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (Chrysler was previously owned by Daimler), hence why it’s so damn good.

Of course, the new model was massaged significantly for its 2011 update, so much so that it looked, drove and felt like a completely new car. Its refinement was over-the-top back then, and while still fairly good compared to cars of that era, it’s falling behind now.

I’ll go into more detail in my upcoming review, but I’ll also be fair in my judgment as this 2017 300 AWD Limited model packs a lot of value for the money asked. Stay tuned my full report…

There’s a reason Lexus is considered a Tier 1 luxury brand along with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Strong sales numbers have a lot to do with it, but also its almost totally full range of models. For…

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
The F Sport upgrade adds significant style to the already eye-catching RC 300 AWD. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

There’s a reason Lexus is considered a Tier 1 luxury brand along with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Strong sales numbers have a lot to do with it, but also its almost totally full range of models. For a relatively new brand, such a wide assortment of models and body styles means that some don’t sell well enough to make money, but instead provide important branding that trickles down to enhance higher volume cars and SUVs.

The IS series was Lexus Canada’s bestselling car last year with more than 3,000 deliveries. This is a polar opposite result from Lexus’ U.S. division sales that saw the more comfort-oriented ES series as the brand’s premium car populist last year and every year prior, by a long shot, whereas that larger front-wheel drive four-door model only found 2,153 buyers during calendar year 2016 in Canada. This shows that Canadians view Lexus in a sportier light than our friends to the south, but still not enough to snap up RC coupes en masse.

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
Looking good front to back, the RC 300 AWD F Sport stands out in its segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The stylish new two-door hardtop model only managed to pull in 526 luxury buyers last year, which while more positive than the 415 mid-size GS and 95 flagship LS luxury sedans sold during the same 12 months, is still a far cry from the 4,765 BMW 4 Series delivered through 2016.

Lexus’ big money was made on SUVs, the RX leading sales for the Japanese brand as well as Canada’s entire mid-size SUV segment at 8,147 units, whereas the fresher NX is already third in its class with 6,295 deliveries. Even the massive LX SUV outsold the RC at 748 units, while the sizeable GX also outshone RC numbers with 551 units down unpaved roads.

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
F Sport trim means the primary gauges are fully configurable and navigation fills the infotainment display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Just the same, we can’t discount the importance of sports models like the RC when it comes to brand image as noted earlier, and the beautiful Infrared painted 2017 RC 300 AWD F Sport parked in our garage this week pulls eyeballs almost as effectively as the same spec car did in Solar Flare orange last year. That vibrant colour isn’t available for the 2017 model year, although seemingly identical Molten Pearl can be had on the even rarer V8-powered RC F super coupe, this being one of the only changes for the regular RC model’s third year of existence.

Many thought the 2.0-litre RC Turbo, currently available in the U.S., would’ve been added to the Canadian lineup for 2017 in order to drop the price and hopefully attract more buyers, but Lexus appears to want its northernmost coupes fitted with all-wheel drive and that car is only pushed from the rear, so the $49,050 RC 300 AWD is base here in Canada.

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
The F Sport gets a nice set of sport seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s arguably better looking with the $4,700 as-tested F Sport Series 1 package (there is no Series 2 package for this model, in case you were wondering) that adds a new front fascia with a larger, bolder grille and unique lower fascia detailing with integrated fog lamps, as well as other exterior styling upgrades, plus unique 19-inch alloys wrapped in 235/40 performance tires (although my tester is fitted with winters), an adaptive sport suspension, a powered tilt and telescopic sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, front sport seats, NuLuxe pleather upholstery with contrast stitching, memory for the driver’s seat, ventilated front seats, a fully configurable LFA-style TFT instrument cluster, Lexus’ touchpad Remote Touch Interface for the infotainment system, navigation, active sound control, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
Rear seat roominess isn’t best in class, but it’s acceptable for a D-segment coupe. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The only other notable option is a dealer-added F Sport performance exhaust system integrated within a fabulous looking rear bumper diffuser (for about $2,050 and change). Lexus claims the upgraded exhaust reduces backpressure for increased torque, which might be noticeable given the RC 300 AWD’s modest engine output.

Despite its considerable 3.5 litres of displacement, the base V6 makes just 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque for fairly relaxed performance due to the coupe’s considerable 1,765-kilo (3,891-lb) curb weight (it’s actually a bit heavier with the F Sport gear). Making it feel even more comfort-biased is a six-speed autobox in a segment filled with snappier eight-speed auto and dual-clutch alternatives.

So how does it feel? I’ve told you too much already, but don’t worry as I’ve got a lot more to say in the upcoming road test review. Make sure to check back for the full story soon…