"My 2001 ES300 is hands-down the best vehicle I have owned. I've owned almost every make, and can easily say that the Lexus is in a league of its own. I purchased mine with 79,000, and am about to eclipse 110,000 now.
As a car enthusiast, I will try to provide the most useful review.
Powertrain: The VVT-i motor provides ample power. Not a race car, but by no means sluggish. Great midrange power band that provides even power at all speeds. If you want performance, look at an IS or a GS. My only complaint is that the 2001 still had the 4-speed OD transmission. It is smooth as silk and bulletproof, but tends to downshift in to first around corners. No oil burning, just have to change it every 3000. Timing belt must be done around 90k, which costs about 600-800.
Exterior: Pretty modest, but classy and well-built. I have been rear-ended and t-boned, but both times there was very little damage. These are very safe cars. The upgraded taillights distinguish 2000 and 2001 models, as do the darker fog lights and front bumper. The paint quality is terrific- it is rare to see an ES300 of any year with rust or major fading. The only paint gripe is that the B pillars fade on most of the 97-01 models. 15" wheels are a little small, but there is a 16" upgrade which is more sporty and modern.
Interior: Great fit and finish- nothing rattles. The quality of plastics, vinyl, and leather is great. Seats are supportive and comfortable on long drives. Heated seats are essential in colder areas. The wood trim is California walnut, and of nice quality. The sound system is amazing. I have the standard stereo (non Mark Levinson), and it is very clear and powerful. The factory subwoofer is deep and effective. Electroluminescent gauges look very classy and bright.
As far as value, Lexus can't be beat. I have lost little resale since purchase, and haven't put unnecessary money in to upkeep. These cars get a little better performance and MPG on premium, but unlike other Japanese cars you do not need to use high octane fuel. I get good highway MPG (between 26-32) but city driving is pretty bismal (15-20).
This is a timeless car that you can count on and be proud of. The sticker price is high, but the cost of ownership is unbelievably low. Plus, resale is better than any American, German, or other Japanese make. Probably one of the best overall cars out there."
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