I bought the 1997 ES 300 model in IL 2 years ago. I have driven to Dallas, Kansas and Oklahoma on different occasions and it's simply the best. The engine is so quiet someone on the will find it hard to believe that you were driving. The fuel economy is about 20 mpg in the city and upto 28mpg on the freeway. Leather seats (heated) are an absolute steal.
Mine is Canadian car that I purchased in year 2006 with ODO reading at 210K. Current reading is 345K. Excellent, excellent, excellent car. I have used it over longer distances non-stop, nearly 1000 miles, as well as daily city use without any issue. The car is so smooth and reliable that I don't ever wish to leave it. Now it is my son's car and he is equally happy with it. It will stay in our family until it dies, we will not sell it.
Issues and solutions till date are as follows:
1. Radio LCD display (faded); bought the part and replaced it myself (easy fix).
2. Serpentine belt changed at 215K.
3. Time belt and water pump changed at 310K.
4. Brakes, rotors and emergency brake at 315K.
5. The car trunk stopped responding to the remote or the internal button in the cabin. Sprayed WD40 through keyhole on the trunk, and in a few minutes the issue was resolved.
6. Rattling sound. Found rusty lose covers under the fuel tank and catalytic converter/exhaust pipe area. Got them removed.
7. Front shockers sound. Sprayed WD-40 at top of both shockers, sound gone.
8. Front leather seat stitch opened up while the leather was still in very good shape. Found a $17 leather patch being sold on Amazon. Applied this leather patch over the stitched area, and the seat is looking fantastic, and the ugly look of the opened stitch is gone.
9. Transmission shifting issues, which started after a transmission oil change. Put in a bottle of Lucas and continued to use the car with problems. Though the transmission will die eventually, however it recovered in about a month's time, and has been running smooth ever since. This issue happened at about 230K odometer reading.
10. some sound starting to come from the rear wheels at about 340K occasionally. On my own inspection, I found that dust cover plates behind the rear disc brakes were completely rusted, rotten and hanging loose. My car mechanic removed them completely and I have no intention to put new ones back on. That sound is gone now.
All the issues above were so minor, and mostly I was able to find a solution and fix it on my own. Besides above, the only other issue was that at about 280K the rear valve cover started a minor leak. I do not intend to fix it as I know mechanics will open the engine and create more issues (I will run this car as long as the engine and transmission work).
The car has developed rust on both sides of the rear wheels, as well as the clear top is peeling on the front driver's side too. The paint all over the rest of the car's body still is shiny new. I had it fixed for $900 (kind of new metal on the rusted area and nearly the whole car painted except the rooftop). After few days of painting, did apply "NuFinish" coat and it is mirror shining the black paint.
Great car to own, drive and maintain.
I prefer sports cars, but this vehicle was comfortable great styling (for a 1997), drove smooth for a 4 speed,great acceleration, handled well i was short-stopped at about 15mph and tapped a minivan and not a scratch on the sienna or my ES, my car later spun out on a flooded highway ramp at -20mph NO BODY DAMAGE but the rear wheel was bent to a 70degree angle. but this thing is a TANK
I have yet to be disappointed with a vehicle made by Toyota and this car is no exception.
Purchased with 150K 4 years ago from original owner, now has 197K. The only thing to go wrong since purchase is the driver door out side handle became non-functional after the clip inside the door broke. It was $1.75, but I had to take the door apart to fix it. I use synthetic oil (previous owners used synthetic also) every 10k miles and the oil is still golden brown after one years worth of driving. My only complaint is when the family goes on a trip the rear sags and sometimes the tires scrape (they are slightly oversized vs stock b/c of BBS rims). Awesome stock stereo,very comfortable n dependable