I've owned a '95 SC400, '01 GS300 and just recently picked up a 2005 ES with 42k miles. I did notice a small hiccup in the transmission when accelerating slowly from 35 to 40mph, but when you accelerate faster you don't notice it. I'm not sure if it's even worth going to the dealer to fix... other than that SMALL thing I really like the car and am looking forward to my next 4 hour drive. This is the smoothest car I've ever driven, and for the price (19K) I feel like I've gotten a very nice car without a very high price. When I drive this thing I feel successful!!
This is my second Lexus, my first a 05 LS430. Drove it for 5 years and loved every minute of it. I wanted another Lexus but couldn't afford a new LS so I purchased a 05 ES330 and love it. Same great features and Lexus ride. No transmission problem noticed because I do a lot of Highway driving. As far as cup holders, well you shouldn't be drinking anyway.
At first I didn't like the performance, but after driving it for three years, it seems to know my heavy foot and quick response I need. Now, it suits me to a T and my husband (a BMW) owner loves taking the Lexus on long distances.
The interior is so beautiful and the seats are like a fine sofa. My CD's sound amazing!
The cup holders are poorly designed. I need to hold onto my coffee cup or it will surely fall over the low clasps. Otherwise, I don't have anything but raves for my ES330.