Used 1999 Lexus ES 300 Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

A new 3.0-liter V6 engine with VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) gives the 1999 ES 300 more horsepower, lower emissions and improved fuel economy. Optional Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) is available on the new ES as are one-touch open and close front windows and a one-touch operated moonroof.

Vehicle overview

More than just a fancy Toyota Camry, the ES300 is an entry-level Lexus worthy of its nameplate. The most prominent feature of the ES300 is its aggressive snout, which juts forward with a large lower air dam and prominent fog lamps. The ES300's deep character lines along the hood and door panels work well, giving this car a distinguished appearance which is backed up by a Lexus claim that 75 percent of its major components, including engine, transmission and interior components, are unique to the ES300 or other Lexus Division models.

The engine was first introduced in the 1999 RX300 and makes 210 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque this year. Even more impressive is the effect that VVTi has on this 3.0-liter V6, making 80 percent of peak torque available at 1,600 rpm. A newly developed 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.

These changes come with a reduction in weight for an overall improvement in performance as well as impressive fuel economy (19 mpg city/26 mpg highway).

Safety is also addressed by front and side airbags, standard electronic traction control, daytime running lights, and three point safety belts in all seating locations.

Let's not forget, however, that luxury is a key component of any Lexus and the ES300 has its fair share of 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.

It's nice to see the people at Lexus taking their entry-level car seriously. If luxury with a touch of performance is what you are looking for, consider the ES300.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.