What's New for 2000
The Lexus ES 300 sports new front-end styling and taillights. The rearview and driver-side mirrors are now electrochromatic for improved nighttime performance. The interior gets new colors and additional wood trim on the audio/heater panel. The mirrors are added to the memory seat function. High-intensity discharge headlights are optional, as are 16-inch wheels. BrakeAssist is included in the Vehicle Skid Control option. A particle-and-odor air filter is a new option. The ES 300 also receives child seat-anchor brackets and three new colors.
More than just a fancy Toyota Camry, the ES 300 is an entry-level Lexus worthy of its nameplate. The most prominent feature of the ES 300 is its aggressive snout, which juts forward with a large lower air dam and prominent fog lamps. The ES 300's deep character lines along the hood and door panels work well, giving this car a distinguished appearance. This is backed up by a Lexus claim that 75 percent of its major components, including engine, transmission and interior components, are unique to the ES 300 or other Lexus models.
Last year, the ES 300 received a more-powerful 3.0-liter V6 engine. It produces 210 horsepower and 220 foot-pounds of torque. Even more impressive is the variable valve timing system (called VVT-i), capable of making 80 percent of peak torque available at 1,600 rpm. A four-speed automatic transmission uses computer control to adjust upshift and downshift patterns for improved responsiveness when climbing hills and enhanced engine braking when traveling down steep inclines.
2000-year changes, such as the electrochromatic mirrors and the high-intensity discharge headlights, only add to the ES 300's list of luxury convenience features. For example, a twist of the key fob will lower both front windows and open the power moonroof. A seven-speaker audio system with 195 watts of amplification is standard, and a 215-watt Nakamichi sound system is optional. Then there's the usual array of heated mirrors, automatic climate control, 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and California walnut wood throughout the interior. Front and side airbags, standard electronic traction control, daytime running lights, and three-point safety belts in all seating locations are the main safety features.
It's nice to see the people at Lexus taking their entry-level car seriously. Be aware, however, that many of the options on the ES 300 are standard on other vehicles, such as the Acura TL. Adding these features can quickly jack up the ES 300's price past its competitors.