Sorin

IS 300h E-CVT Gearbox Question

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Hi all,

I am new here and I have a question for the IS300h owners. Currently I have a 2011 BMW 3 series with a 3.0L engine and 250hp. The car offers great performance and I like it a lot but the car is really fragile and even though I bought it at under 60k miles, in 2.5 years and 20k miles I invested around 3k £ in repairs (excluding the normal maintenance and wear and tear parts), mostly things that should never go out at this age and miles in any car, things like valve cover, injectors, some sensors etc. I was thinking about buying a newer BMW or another German car but asking around my friends who have BMW, Audi and Mercedes they all experience the same kind of issues and every little thing that goes wrong with these cars is super expensive to fix and they happen all the time even if the car is well under 100k miles, so the age of the car is not the reason.

I used to have a Mazda 3 car a few years back and that car was solid as a rock, sold it for almost nothing to a good friend and it has 100k miles now on it and it never ever went wrong. So I looked a little into Japanese cars and the only one I like is the Lexus. I know the IS is really reliable and it looks good too but I've read some reviews where they said that CVT gearboxes are mostly really annoying and that they can be sluggish and noisy. All the cars I've owned had manual transmissions but when going on holiday I had 4 different auto gearboxes and I was thinking I could live with one if it is decent but I am a little worried by the CVT reviews I've seen online. I think I drove a CVT once in a Toyota C-HR which was OK but it couldnt really handle any type of spirited driving but then again that one didn't have a sport setting or anything. The ZF I drove once in a BMW 2 series was absolutely superb.

So I guess the question here is what are your experiences with the CVT in the Lexus IS 300h? Was there a shock coming from another cars or is it not that bad? When the time comes to get rid of the BMW I will probably look for a IS 300H around 2016, probably the F-Sport model and under 50k miles as I plan to keep the car for a while.

Any help from owners would be appreciated.

 

Many thanks

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Car is well built, reliable, looks good and very easy to drive.

CVT gearbox is not an issue.

I have the 2016 Advance model, love the style and comfort and reliability. Normal driving is very relaxed. For something more sporty, use the S mode. This gives the benefit of the 2.5ltr engine plus the hybrid and is certainly no slouch.

Perhaps you should test drive one to see what you think

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I have previously owned a 2014 f sport. 

Make sure you have a long test drive to ensure that seats suit you. They are germanically firm. 

CVT gearbox is great in my opinion. You soon get used to it. Watch the Lexus YouTube video on driving a hybrid . Others here have mentioned corrosion on a front chassis leg. Please read the thread. I came from a 2012 Mercedes E250 cabriolet and a Normal Auto gearbox. I've never looked back. Don't forget the f sport runs different size wheels front and rear. 

If it is on Yokahomas there is a tyre model specific for Lexus. 

Find a car that suits you and enjoy 😊

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As said above, take a really long test with it and make your own mind up about the CVT. Try to ignore all the “professional” reviewers who can’t accept that Lexus is not following the pack.

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In my opinion the E-CVT is an amazing bit of engineering design and the best drivetrain for a relaxed drive. What you have to remember is the engine is not directly connected to the wheels so there is no correlation to engine revs (noise) and road speed. This makes it very quiet when cruising at high speeds as well as at lower speeds round town. It is very refined and easy to drive when you get used to it. There is always power when you want it but most of the time you just waft along.

 

However if your daily commute includes three laps of the Nuremburg ring then you will be disappointed. The IS300h is not a sports car for enthusiastic drivers.  Under harsh acceleration it can get noisy but with a 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds it will not be long before you are at legal speed limits and back off the revs making it quieter again. Sport mode is useful for overtaking as it gives extra power from the Battery.

 

Make your own mind up don’t take any notice of the reviews; motoring journalists don’t have the cars long enough to understand how to drive the E-CVT properly.  95% of the time it’s just great for getting from A to B in a relaxed way, and the cabin is a nice place to be. However if you want a quick blast on a quiet country road (if you can find one) you may find it disappointing.

 

The F Sport has the same drive train as the other models it’s just a cosmetic difference.

 

Dare to be different.

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Thank you guys. This is really helpful. Yeah, I was thinking of actually going for a different trim level than the f-Sport as I've noticed that the big nav screen is less common on the sports trim. I will use the car mostly for normal driving around town but mostly weekend drives and road trips as I live in London and I definitely won't commute to work in it. But is nice to know that the car is not a slug on country roads.

 

Thank you

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I concur with all the above - I came to a Lexus IS 300h from a line of BMWs my latest being the E90 330i. I was looking for something a bit "different" but which had to be very reliable - I loved the BMWs I had but had got bored of the sameness of the cars year to year and didn't fancy a Merc or Audi. I read all the reviews etc. which gave a mixed picture and so booked a 24 hour test drive in the IS 300h and then wondered what all the all the journos were talking about! I found the car very impressive and the e-cvt incredibly well suited to modern day roads and traffic. In fact I went straight to the dealer the next day and purchased a 2 year old 40K miles IS 300h Executive trim which I have had for nearly 3 years now (its now done 75K miles). In that time I have been deeply impressed with the cars ability as a long distance tourer and the smoothness and fuel economy, especially in traffic - it's a very serene experience. The car's handling is not too far away from the BMW as some might make out. Performance wise, yes it's not as fast as my BMW 330i but in normal day-to-day driving it's perfectly fine and I don't miss the extra horses in my last BMW. I tend to drive in Eco mode most of the time as I seem to be either in heavy traffic or cruising on a motorway and so don't see any sense in paying more than I need to in petrol. If I need more instantaneous power then pop it into Sport mode and for making swifter progress on an empty road or for overtaking I'm happy. I will say that although I made a quick decision based on my test drive that it does take a couple of months of normal driving to really appreciate the e-cvt and the car as a whole. If you use a test drive as if you are on race track you will be disappointed - it's not what the car is designed to do - you really do need to test the car on your normal commute or decent length sensible journey to appreciate whether it's right for you. By the way I had a Merc C200 (8 speed autobox and petrol) for a few weeks whilst my IS 300h was in for some body damage (not my fault) and really hated it. The autobox was never in the right gear and was jerky and slow. Progress was hampered waiting for the autobox to change down gears (usually a few of them) followed by acceleration some time after I wanted it. Given the negative press leveled by some journos at the IS 300h e-cvt and yet not at the Merc I have now concluded that they really don't have a clue what they are talking about! After getting my IS 300h back again it really underlined that I made the right decision.

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I went from a 2011 E90 318i manual to an IS 300h. Luxury model. BMW was sharper to drive and  the IS 220bhp did not feel much quicker than the 143bhp petrol BMW.  Very different cars. Lexus way more comfortable and better built though. Also it was around 200kg heavier. You will feel that in the handling.

If you drive gently, the IS will wow you, but if you drive hard or blast the B roads, you will need to use the fake manual mode on the CVT to hold the car in gear and maintain composure and balance. 

 

I'd echo Wharfhouse on the merc gearbox. Had a GLA 200 petrol auto as a rental and it was utter garbage generally and the gearbox was useless.

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5 hours ago, Sorin said:

I've read some reviews where they said that CVT gearboxes are mostly really annoying and that they can be sluggish and noisy

It's bizarre that almost no car reviewers understand the strengths of the hybrid transmission. The elegance and simplicity of the engineering was one of the things that attracted me - so few things to go wrong, compared with a complex modern conventional automatic gearbox. (I like reliability more than constant repairs.)

In daily use I like

  • the silence of the car - at 70mph the engine will be turning at around 1200-1500 rpm.
  • the lack of jolting between gears that you normally get on automatics and, of course, on manuals
  • the silence when the car stops and the instant response to get started again - on a conventional stop/start system there's always a pause before the engine starts running again
  • (a small and perhaps trivial point is that the air conditioning keeps going when the car has stopped - that's more a function of the hybrid system than the eCVT but the one depends on the other - conventional cars mostly need the engine to be running to drive the air conditioning)

You may be wondering what reviewers are talking about when they say the car is noisy. So think about it this way.  If you've ever been on a plane that aborted a landing as it was about to touch down, and went to full power to perform a go-around, you'll know how alarming that can be when you aren't expecting it. The hybrid system is more like a jet plane or a power boat under hard acceleration. The engine revs hard and the plane or boat (or e-cvt car) builds up speed until the power can be cut back. 

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I came to my IS300h after 26 years of Jaguar ownership (an XJ6 4.0 manual followed by an XJ8 3.2 auto). I slightly miss the V8 twin exhaust note and the cushioned ride of 60 profile tyres but otherwise I'm very happy with the Lexus. Acceleration from rest really only requires 2000 rpm or if you're feeling keen then 3000 rpm  and under those conditions the cvt is undetectable. My wife and I find the seats ( ours is the Sport model ) very comfortable and the whole car gives an impression of quality and solidity. The motoring journalists, by concentrating on full throttle behaviour, are missing the point of the Lexus.

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21 hours ago, Sorin said:

Currently I have a 2011 BMW 3 series with a 3.0L engine and 250hp. The car offers great performance and I like it a lot but the car is really fragile

 

Quite a few of us on here have had the same mispleasure of BMW reliability, mine was a E90 335i, to this day still the only car that has broken down and left me stranded by the side of the road.

Amazing driving machines, but fragile is a kind word to use to describe awful build quality and inherent design flaws, which BMW never than take responsibility for.

We've had our IS300H 4.5 years now, we haven't done many miles, sub 26k, but its simply the most reliable, cheap to own car we've had.

You wouldn't find the IS300H lacking in actual speed, or handling. Its surprisingly quick especially when moving and had top class body control on a B road. None of this 'skipping' across the road when the road surface is bad your find with any 'M sport' badged BMW.

As a daily commuter car/Mway machine its really hard to fault the IS300H, ours returns 45mpg all weather, I did 300 miles non stop in it once in awful weather and the car behaved perfectly.

HOWEVER the power delivery is awful, if that aspect of the car is important to you. As you have experienced the ZF auto boxes are amazing, the IS300H is nothing close, add in about 0.5-1 second delay between going full throttle and the engine responding and your getting close to how the IS300H feels when 'pressing on'. Its not as bad as the autobox in a CX60/90 but nothing close to the old 6 speed ZF autobox let alone the current 8 speed box.

The noise actually is fine, as most of the time the car is very quiet, and in day to day driving the drive train is fine, its only when you going full throttle the powertrain delays are noticable.

My wife loves our IS, she has no idea why I find driving it so frustrating, its like having a Michelin star level plate of food put on your table with how good the overall car is, but than asked to eat it with plastic knife and fork......

The IS is a really good car, and we'll be keeling ours for a good while yet, overall all its an fantastic car, but the power train has flaws if that kind of thing is important to you.

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I have owned my car for over 2 years and consider the E CVT to be one of the best things about the car. It's a joy to drive.

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I owned a BMW while the IS300h is my wife's car. Participated in a customer clinic where I gave feedback that compared to my then IS250 that I would buy the next model IS if it were a hybrid, had better ride, less road noise, folding rear seat backs and more rear leg room. Well 3 years after the clinic they delivered so we bought. The ownership experience has been generally good, except for its powertrain.

I agree that the power delivery is awful for keen driving and no different to a Prius really, but fine for sedate and normal traffic. Actually I find the latest Prius's are more responsive. So a fun winding road is best enjoyed in another car. Shame Lexus did not make the hybrid system more reactive to the keen driver. You can have some control in manual mode so long as you don’t hit the kick down button but the slippage feel still exists. A real disappointment considering the real ability in handling it has, partly due also to its 50/50 weight distribution.

I recently drove the new 320d G30 BMW. If anyone wanted a quieter car that does the benchmark acceleration around 6 seconds (vs 8.5 secs and it does feel that much more responsive) and has a fuel range that surpasses the Lexus this is it. It joins the autobahn and accelerates up to speed with the torque feeling of a V8 where the Lexus would be screaming in revs. I never really heard much sound from the diesel at all. Of course, can’t be sure of its durability as yet. But my wife's IS300h did require a replacement hybrid Battery at 90,000kms.

I would be keen to see if Lexus will finally modernise the hybrid system. In the meantime,  try the Camry hybrid, which at least is quite a lot more peppy than the IS.

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I came to Lexus from a Mazda 3, 125,000 miles, 9 years of ownership and only had to change 1 shock absorber....

I wanted an auto, but do quite high mileage so a CVT made sense for me. My opinion is:

It's perfect 90% of the time. Then the 10% when you want to have fun... Not so good... I think it does make you chill out a bit more behind the wheel because of it.  

The only real annoyance is, there can be a little bit of a lag if you punch the throttle (a little worse than a standard slushbox auto), but if your progressive it's fine and much better than the audi CVT (had an A5 hire car for a few weeks, that was so laggy it was dangerous).  

I think if you love spirited driving then it probably won't be for you, if you want a child relaxing drive them it's better than a standard auto.

Ps 50,000+ miles on mine, no real issues (rear brakes seized, but my car was only used Monday's and Thursday's and kept out in the rain, plus the journey was all mway, so wasn't really using the brakes.  Other than a few rattles it's a good work horse.

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fine for sedate and normal traffic??

Sedate driving is more likely to be responsible driving. The IS300H is not a boy racer. It is a grown ups car with more than adequate "performance" for todays motoring conditions.

If you want a car that is a performance car go for something different. Probably also best to go on a race track so that you can enjoy the experience without accumulating penalty points.

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14 hours ago, ikeja said:

fine for sedate and normal traffic??

Sedate driving is more likely to be responsible driving. The IS300H is not a boy racer. It is a grown ups car with more than adequate "performance" for todays motoring conditions.

If you want a car that is a performance car go for something different. Probably also best to go on a race track so that you can enjoy the experience without accumulating penalty points.

 

Wow, and there endeth the sermon :whistling1:

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On 7/15/2019 at 9:24 AM, ikeja said:

fine for sedate and normal traffic??

Sedate driving is more likely to be responsible driving. The IS300H is not a boy racer. It is a grown ups car with more than adequate "performance" for todays motoring conditions.

If you want a car that is a performance car go for something different. Probably also best to go on a race track so that you can enjoy the experience without accumulating penalty points.

 

Disagree.

For me the only negative with my IS300H is the laggy transmission. And I would not consider the type of driving I'm doing when I observe this as dangerous. My last car was a naturally aspirated petrol car with manual transmission and the difference in this area in comparison with the Lexus is huge. Even after almost 2 years of otherwise very enjoyable ownership, this annoys me regularly.

I drove the new Toyota Corolla at the weekend and was impressed with its "next Gen" hybrid transmission. From what I understand, the new ES is also more responsive.

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1 hour ago, route66 said:

Disagree.

For me the only negative with my IS300H is the laggy transmission. And I would not consider the type of driving I'm doing when I observe this as dangerous. My last car was a naturally aspirated petrol car with manual transmission and the difference in this area in comparison with the Lexus is huge. Even after almost 2 years of otherwise very enjoyable ownership, this annoys me regularly.

I drove the new Toyota Corolla at the weekend and was impressed with its "next Gen" hybrid transmission. From what I understand, the new ES is also more responsive.

The UX also has the same new 2 litre hybrid as the Corolla and there is virtually no 'lag'. We still have the IS and it's great for wafting but the UX is way better cutting through traffic.

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