Monday, May 2, 2016

Bland Loyalty: 2000 Lexus ES300

The third generation Lexus ES300 was yet another notch on the bedpost in Toyota's march toward global domination.  With a base price of $30k in 1997 the ES was positioned above the most expensive $27k Toyota Avalon, which also used the same Camry chassis.  You might wonder why Toyota would sell two cars with such similar size/cost/MSRP -- but the product planners at corporate figured that they could sell the ES300 to people who wanted the Lexus snob badge but didn't have money and the Avalon to people who had money but didn't want the Lexus snob badge -- and it worked with both cars selling well.  Find this 2000 Lexus ES300 here on eBay bidding for $2,325 with one day to go, located in Ft Lauderdale, FL.

At first glance the ES looks like any other late 90s/early 2000s Camry/Avalon, but the ES300 was probably the nicest appliance grade front driver you could get from any OEM back around Y2K.  That's right, this was the time when Lexus/Toyota beat Buick/Cadillac/Oldsmobile at the front drive luxury car market, and no small part was played by the ES.

Powering this snoozemobile is a 3.0 liter Toyota 1MZ-FE V6 with VVT-i that is rated at 210 horsepower and 222 ft-lbs of torque.  Is it exciting?  No, certainly not.  But it is reliable and offers plenty of  thrust for the beige box it pulls around.

On the inside you get leather, power everything, and a completely numb driving experience -- which is totally fine if you need something for a freeway commute or your kid.

See another way to drive beige?


  1. A Camry with 3in less headroom. No one over 5'9" fits in these things.

    1. Don't get me wrong, I know several folks who own these and they'll go almost literally forever.

      But, still...none are over 5'9", and it's painful for me to ride in the damn things.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. 2345678909876543May 2, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    After owning one, it is a really smooth (so smooth it can make a driver carsick), and nice driving car that can take abuse. The engine is quite peppy, I could pass just about anybody without any problems, and in the rain, if you floor it from a stop, it can spin the tires quite nicely.

    But I agree with mrkwong, I had to sell it because I could not fit in it. I don't know what Toyota was thinking...Quite a shame really, the sound system was fantastic, it got decent mpg considering the weight/year/engine, and was built very solidly and felt like a safe car. (I found out after I sold it, it was in a major front end collision, but the car drove like it was on rails, I've never had a car steer so straight in my life.)

    All in all, I lost thousands of dollars, but my comfort was worth it. Great car for a teenager daughter or the elderly (anybody short!).

    1. I forgot to mention the A/C in these cars is phenomenal, the best I have ever experienced in a car.

  3. I know the XV10 Camry (91-96) was pretty much the pinnacle of Camry engineering and build quality, before the decontenting efforts began with the XV20. Were there similar concessions made to costs in the XV20 ES? In thinking about it, it seems like I still see more of the 91-96 variants on the road than 96-01 versions.

  4. This was nowhere near the only Lexus product incapable of accommodating males over 90th percentile in height. The first- and third-generation Lexus GS were also horrible. The first-gen just didn't fit at all, like the ES. The third-gen would let you into the car, but your forehead was three inches from the visor.

    Odd, because the second-gen car (the one my wife thought was too 'bubbly', but which drove well, and she might have actually bought instead of the 540i had the salesman not been a total irredeemable prick) fit fine.


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