I wanted to follow up on my ownership experience; My previous post was listed by "W." and posted on 4/26/10. After having purchased this car back in Oct. 2009, it still runs beautifully and has not left me stranded once. I have put almost 40,000 miles on the car (now @ 136.5k miles) since my last post, and I still love it! I use my car for courier work (lots of stop and go driving), and it never hesitates. I had an O2 sensor replaced, which ran about $300; other than this one repair and basic upkeep (tires, oil changes, brake pads, tune-up), this car has been the most reliable vehicle I have ever owned. I recommend high-mileage rated synthetic oil to keep the engine at peak performance.
Woodgrain Steering wheel, Coach Edition trim (which includes upgraded perforated leather seats among other lovely extras), excellent stereo, heated seats, decent acceleration, saavy traction control system for a car made in 2001, side air bags (luckily, never used), auto daytime-nighttime mirror, smooth and comfortable ride... I could go on forever about the creature comforts, but my most favorite feature is the reliability; all the work I've had done to the car in terms of maintenance and repairs combined over 42 months of ownership is still significantly cheaper and more cost-effective than one single repair cost on my former 1997 Mercedes C230 (to be fair, the 'Benz was four years older).
My biggest grievances would be the poor gas mileage in the city and the fragile cupholders. Some older Lexus models have issues with the clearcoat deteriorating, and sadly mine is no exception; however, I used this in negotiations to land a better deal and it's merely a cosmetic issue (it doesn't really bother me considering the car is now over 12 years old). As I stated in the previous post a few years back, these issues have already been addressed by Toyota/Lexus with their newer models. The paint issue can be addressed by using premium cleaning and wax products (Turtle Wax "Ice" car wash soap and liquid wax seems to work very well, and is more cost-effective compared to a new paint job).
To improve the lousy cup holders, go to a Sprinkler Irrigation Store and buy a plastic Green Atrium Grate for a 4" drain pipe (about $6).
Get the green grate, not the black grate (better fit for cups) then spray paint it black.
It fits perfectly in the existing cup holders.
It even has a lip that secures it to the lid of the armrest.
You will think it was made specifically for the 97 - 01 ES300.
Now back to the rest of the car ... amazing ride, great freeway gas mileage, quiet, excellent standard sound system, comfortable, adequate power.
Mine has low miles, 48,000, and I suspect it will be a typical Lexus and be trouble free as my prior Lexus purchases have been.
I just bought the 2001 ES with very low mileage (55K) in near showroom condition. I was driving a 1994 ES that was a superb car, but I was ready for one a bit newer. This car is awesome. It's looks fool you into thinking it's ultra sedate and staid, but when pushed this car will surprise you in it's strength and agility. I bought it because I was already familiar with the quality of Lexus. I could have bought an even newer model, but I really liked the clean lines and angular body style of the '00 and '01 years more than the newer '02 to '06 models. It's a vehicle with understated elegance that performs remarkably well. I'm enjoying every moment driving it.
Audio/CD system; Wood Steering wheel; Auto-Headlights; Auto Up and Down Windows; Seats/Leather are like butter. The hidden power in the engine always delights.
Needs stronger cup holders; need to be able to turn off the Auto Volume Leveler feature on stereo. Other than that - this car is as close to perfect as I've found.
I bought my ES300 back in Oct. 2009 after reading over Edmunds and various other websites. I finally caved in and traded my old 1997 MB C230 (210k mi, saggy headliner, expensive to maintain) for a more reliable car. While looking for cars like newer Accords & Camrys, I lucked up and this appeared locally on a car lot. For an older car, the ES300 feels right at home and better equipped compared to a newer Accord or Camry. I compromised and bought it with 98k miles (kinda high mi), and Had to recently service it for new belts & water pump at 105k miles. My mechanic stated "it's basically an expensive Toyota," which is exactly what I wanted: Everything works well, and it starts every time.
The ride is incredibly comfortable, good audio system and excellent climate control AC, side airbags and traction control, Coach Edition paint and rims, Woodgrain Steering wheel. Volume control for car alarm is a clever touch, Heated seats are a nice frill, the fit and finish of the interior.
The Cupholders are weak. Watch out if you have a tall cup or bottle. Window defroster isn't the greatest, either. I don't see great city MPG when I drive. Use good oil, Timely Oil Changes are KEY! However, it's really hard to complain about a ten year old car & newer models address most issues.