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2004 Lexus IS300 or newer compact

I need a car for the summer, so, after some research, I decided to start looking for Lexus IS300s (2001-2005). I have pretty good knowledge about cars, and I know they tend to be quite reliable. The ones I am looking for are around the $3-4k range with about 130k miles on them. My mom suggests that a newer car (2010 and up) will be far better, however, the used cars are usually $7k+ and already have 75-125k miles on them. Common ones I’ve seen are elantra, sentra, altimas, focus, dart, and basically every other compact other than corollas or civics. I obviously don’t want to spend the extra money if I don’t have to. Will one of the newer cars be so much better in terms of reliability vs cost as my mom believes, or am I better off with a decent example of the Lexus. Priorities are reliability, purchase cost, and repairability, and for my sake, driving experience.

Edit: I want to find out if the $3k price difference is really worth the upgrade in overall reliability in the case of two cars that are decent examples. I’d like to see some stories to back it up, not just statements.

So why do you need help ? Any used vehicle no matter age or miles can’t be said to be reliable . You just have a shop look at what ever you want for a fee . That will not guarantee it won’t die the next day but it will improve your chances.

A buddy of mine owned an IS300 and declared it the least reliable car he’s ever owned… and that includes 2 PT Cruisers and a Daytona. Just food for thought.

If you just need it for 3 months, rent 1 or 2 year old car from a car rental agency.

Not sure where you are, but Seattle area I can rent a Ford Fiesta for $500 a month,
or up to a Chevrolet Impala $800 a month

I intend to keep the car afterward.

Stories , you want stories . There are thousands on this forum site . Some that had a relative new vehicle having catastrophic malfunctions , some older ones that gave a good amount of service time and since you are looking all over the board each vehicle you look at has to be treated as an individual item.

I’m going by what the Lexus IS forums are saying , it could be a reliable car but it all depends on how it was maintained.

The same as with the Focus or other compacts that Mom want’s you to look at. Some years ago a buddy of mine was looking at used Focus’s for his kid but all the ones in their price range at dealers had obvious oil leaks and other red flags.

As long as you get it inspected by someone you trust I’d consider the IS300 but as an option is the Mazda3 of the same vintage or newer out of the question? I know in certain parts of the country they tend to rust but here you can find ones with over 200,000 miles and going strong. The buddy i mentioned earlier has a 2004 Mazda3 that he bought with around 40,000 miles on it (via craigslist) and now has somwhere north of 215,000 miles and had to buy a new starter for christmas but otherwise it’s been dirt cheap to run.

For up to date reliability ratings, and overall ratings of used cars, see the April 2020 Consumer Reports magazine, or their on-line articles.

I will definitely look into that. Thank you.

Find one in excellent condition and test drive it. Look under the car, under the hood, and inside the trunk. Pull up the carpets in the trunk and see if there is any rust. When you find that great car, spend about $100 for a pre-purchase inspection from a mechanic you trust. If it still looks good, then think about buying it. Be patient and wait for the right car.

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I could tell you a story about being cut off by a Lexus it that will help.

You could save a grand if you switch to a Honda Accord EX V6. I had a 2005, and it was a great car. You could also use the price advantage to buy a newer car for the same $3600 or so you want to spend on the IS300. The EX V6 is a luxury car, with leather seating, power heated seats, and dual zone climate control. I just set the interior temperature and let it do its thing. The only time I adjusted it was after Mrs JT set the temperature up on her side. I preferred synced temperatures when I commuted, which I did for 12 years and 180,000 miles. You might see similar price advantages with a Camry XLE V6.

You don’t need the V6 engine. The 4 cylinder has plenty of power for daily use and will end up costing you less at the pump.

The OP is considering the sporty/pretty fast IS300. So I bet they’d prefer a V6 in the Camry or Accord.

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I wonder what the OP’s age is since they mentioned their Mother. If they are to be on the parents insurance then the parent has the last word.

It’s hard to imagine that an IS300 is a car the boy racers would be interested in.

It was Lexus’ competition for the BMW 330i: straight 6, rwd, handling suspension, etc. So it’s a sports sedan, unlike most other Lexus cars. Acquaintance mistakenly bought one, found out how rough the ride was, traded it right away for an ES300.