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I doubt there is any tuning solution that is NOT going to require time/effort/experience to sort out discrepancies - even the so-called "plug and play" units. This is speculation on my part, I've no direct experience with PnP units for IS300. Other PnP stuff I've messed with in other applications always had issues and anomalies to work out - which have always been time consuming.
I have extremely high expectations for how well my cars run/drive. 15 years ago, I was pretty satisfied as long as the car started, generally idled, and ran strong at WOT without blowing up. Not anymore. Now I demand the car start perfect hot or cold, idle correctly regardless of fans on/off, AC on/off, battery voltage, coolant temperature, inlet air temp, etc etc etc. The throttle response must be crisp, it must rev cleanly, I must be able to achieve my desired AFR at all times. Etc, etc, etc.
...which is not achievable with a piggyback. They simply do not have enough inputs or adjustments in the software to achieve it. It's kind of like a carburetor; you can get it set up to run the engine and make good power, but the calibration will always be a compromise in some regard and the "drivability" will never be as good as a properly configured ecu.
A quality, fully-featured ecu will allow the calibration to be as good as factory-stock, if (and ONLY if) the schmuck doing the calibration work has the knowledge and puts in the time. Which implies that you'll need to shop around for the right person to do the tuning, and be prepared to pay them for their time. Which also implies that you should be strongly considering their opinion on what tuning solution you get.
Obviously cost is a big factor in all this. My advice is to spend some time writing down very specific goals and outcomes you are trying to achieve - and then shop around getting "quotes" on what it will take to achieve those outcomes.
It's been said many times but bears repeating:
Choose any 2: Fast, Cheap, Quality
I think most of us that have been here for some time agree on that. We can also agree that it probably takes some age to achieve that mentality. Not ragging on you OP, just calling it like I see it (for all I know you could be my age).
I remember I too went through that phase of having tha legendary 2jz and not having the money for a supra but calling it *cringe* a 4dr soopra.
The fact is that the car can be had for pennies but making it fast and reliable is not cheap or economical in any way. Taking into account your local tuners preference is a good recommendation...you could then try to source a used unit if money is an issue.
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