Better than expected
By GringoViejo on Friday, December 02, 2011
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000
overall rating 10 of 10rating details
- Overall Rating
Pros: "Comfortable, roomy, reliable"
Cons: "Soft suspension"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought a new 2000 XLS in December 1999 after having ordered an Acura TL and found I couldn't get comfortable in the driver's seat. So: across the street to the Toyota dealer.
For the first few years, I looked for excuses to get rid of it: it seemed too geriatric, with the Buick Roadmaster ride, large fonts on the center display, etc. But, of course, as I got older while driving it, those features began to look better and better.
Seriously, the only flaws worth mentioning have to do with the overly soft suspension. If you have one of these, especially if you buy a low-mileage used one, I recommend you do what I did: Replace the shocks with stiffer, aftermarket ones, like KYB, upgrade all the suspension bushings, and upgrade both the size and quality of the tires. I've got a set of Continental W-rated M/S tires now that improve the handling tremendously; Michelin Exalto A/S, either H- or V- rated, are also excellent, and you can buy them at Costco, which means free rotation and rebalancing for life. Go at least one size over (I'm using 2 sizing), you won't regret it. Upgrade the brakes whenever you have a chance; at least, use Akebono brake pads.
What's worn out after 12 years and 130,000 miles? The catches on the center console and the sunglasses holder. The JBL stereo is good, but at some point, the rear deck speaker blew out, and the part alone is over $200 (it requires more than that in labor to install) so it's now just disconnected. Also, an oxygen sensor was expensive to replace and there are three more of them sitting there waiting to cost money.
But: It's fast, economical (although the trip computer is wildly optimistic about mileage), and very spacious and comfortable. The suspension upgrades have stopped it from wallowing on bumpy roads and leaning too much on turns, but the ride is still very smooth.
When I first got it, it was in spite of the exterior design; I though I was driving a great white whale! But now it looks like a classic -- simple, clean, and not too big compared, let's say, to the current Avalon. If this car were any better, it would be an ES350, but then my clients would think they were paying for my Lexus."
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