#4 1998 – 2005 Lexus IS300 18/25 mpg
Readily available between $6,000 and $10,000, with a large range of mileage and condition.
2JZ. For car people, is there anything else that needs to be said? For the uninitiated, the venerable and ever popular 2JZ is the powerplant found in the ’90s Toyota Supra, Lexus SC300 and a couple other models. When equipped with a large turbo and supporting mods, these engines are known to make 800+ hp, and have become a thing of legend.
The IS300 is powered by a naturally aspirated version of this very engine, so no turbocharging in factory form. But, even so the Lexus product produces a respectable 215hp. Not a lot by today’s standards, but the tuning ability and performance upgrades available more than make up for the lack of out of the box performance. The stock trim does have an EPA estimated economy of 18 / 25 mpg, which is perfectly on par with most of this list. Available primarily with an automatic transmission, bear in mind that there are manual transmission equipped models out there, as well as a hatchback version called the Sportcross.
In my opinion, this is the best looking of the five options and it is a comfortable drive. Available only in rear wheel drive, the IS300 is a fun summer car, but unfortunately is not a great option for the winter months. If high power numbers are not your cup of tea, rest assured that the 2JZ is also an incredibly durable engine, often seen with 250K miles or better. This is a comfortable car that will last you for a very long time and also provide a bit of fun, which is why it made it on this list of my favorite daily drivers.