For December 18, 2023, our used car find is this 2002 Lexus IS 300 with a relatively low 124k miles and just a single Pacific Northwest owner. It’s offered by a private seller on Autotrader in the Seattle area for $11,000 or best offer.
Here’s what makes this one special.
Lexus successfully took on luxury stalwart Mercedes-Benz in the 1990s with its superb new flagship, the LS. In the next decade, it set its sights on BMW, the preeminent builder of sports sedans. Its all-new IS 300, launched (in the U.S.) for the 2001 model year, matched the E46-generation BMW 3 Series in both size and setup, boasting a lithe chassis, a potent inline-six, and rear-wheel drive.
Journalists of the day lauded the effort. In Car and Driver’s 2001 Sports Sedan Shootout, Patrick Bedard said, “Of the six contestants, this spunky Lexus is the one that keeps digging us in the ribs and saying, ‘Let’s play.’ There’s an irrepressible spirit here, with a switchblade quickness that’s the essence of motoring sport.”
That’s a remarkable accomplishment for an automaker that was known up to that point for delivering sedate luxury. Though the IS 300 fell a bit short of the 3 Series in that particular matchup (primarily due to not having a manual gearbox for 2001), it did promise Lexus levels of reliability. And that’s a big part of what makes the first-generation IS a more desirable car today.
This particular 2002 IS 300 has a lot going for it. First and foremost, it’s being sold by its original owner, who seems to have looked after it quite well since picking it up at Lexus of Bellevue in August 2001. Its original Absolutely Red factory paint — a fairly rare choice — still looks glossy and deep, thanks no doubt to the mild Pacific Northwest climate the car has enjoyed for the last two decades. Things looks equally sharp on the inside with no discernable fading or wear on the tan leather upholstery nor any of the dreaded “sticky dash” issue that’s plagued several Lexus models of the era.
In the words of the seller:
Always parked in a garage, never winter driven. Located in the Seattle area where there is little snow and no salt. This car has been lightly driven and well maintain. Oil changed last month using synthetic oil. No smoker driver. Single owner. Have a question about past service or need specific photos, let me know. This car is a joy to drive and very low mileage. Newer cars have lots of technology, but this car is simple and fun. Added more pictures. Car has paint chip guard (thin plastic protector on exposed surfaces). Applied by dealer before delivery. Paddle manual shifters on steering wheel. (fully automatic or manual with paddle shifters). No kids and children seats in the back, hence no seat wear or stains. Snow chains included.
The seller also has uploaded a walk-around video to YouTube HERE.
The closest comparable example on Bring a Trailer from the last few months sold for $8,700 in June 2023. But that car had 137k miles, three owners, and some underbody corrosion due to life in the Rust Belt. Without any of those issues, this Seattle-area specimen should be worth more. Perhaps not quite as much as the full $11,000 ask, but we think that’s the right neighborhood.
Find it on Autotrader HERE while you still can.
Details & Specs
- 2002 Lexus IS 300 (XE10)
- 124,340 miles
- 3.0-liter DOHC inline-six (2JZ-GE)
- 215 horsepower
- 218 lb-ft of torque
- five-speed automatic transmission
- rear-wheel drive
- 3,285 lbs
- Absolutely Red exterior
- Ivory (tan) leather interior