Lexus ES 300 Review

The Lexus ES model has been around for decades: the car was launched back in 1989 and we are now in the second year of its seventh generation. Introduced in 1991 the 300 ES represented second, third and fourth ES generations. And today we are reviewing the last one the 2003 ES version.  A bit of ES 300 trivia for you: this particular luxury sedan was once introduced at a gala event on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills by non-other than spectacular Sharon Stone. Now, we are reviewing an oldie today, it’s almost an antique, but, if there’s one thing we all know, it’s that the Lexus vehicles do age exceptionally well. No matter the time passed the ES somehow maintains a level of interior and exterior build quality that almost impossible to match. 

The Pros

  • Convenient cabin
  • Outstanding quality of ride
  • Efficient V6 engine  
  • Unprecedented reliability
  • Smooth trouble-free ride   

The Cons

  • Dated exterior and interior
  • 2003 technology

To qualify for the outstanding Lexus Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Program vehicle must be six model years old or newer with seventy or less thousand miles 

Lexus ES 300 Overview

There is a huge perk waiting for those looking into buying an almost 17-year-old car – the 17 years’ worth of customer feedback and reviews. And we’ve scrolled through tons of them. Generally, wall over 75% of customers give the 300 5 out of 5 stars, the rest are 4 out of 5. Such results are unprecedented and, honestly, very surprising for an almost 20-year-old vehicle. Just to give you an example, here are a few of the last ones dated 2019-2018 from Amazon and Kelly Blue Book: “This car is now 13 years old and looks 3”, “Runs and drives like new with 230K”, or “Truly the best car I ever owned”.  

All in all, the 2003 Lexus ES 300 was a spectacular vehicle when it launched and we are glad we still get to enjoy the quality. The ES 300 rides well, it is extremely comfortable and accommodating, with nice detailing and it proudly represents that old-school Lexus class. 

Exterior

The ES 300 is an attractive car, though, just a heads-up for those head-over-hills with the latest aggressive Lexus trademark style – this isn’t a vehicle for you. The 300 exudes classical sophistication with smooth rounded lines, almost miniature grille and big xenon headlights. And yes, back in the day the headlights were larger than the grille. You’ll love the full chrome rims, chrome handles and chrome detailing that runs across the vehicle, framing the tinted windows. The car has a very clean sleek look, and even decades later – the exterior doesn’t look unappealing.   

Interior

Interior does look dated, which is entirely expected. Plus, nowadays Lexus’s dashboard looks more like a space shuttle control panel, so if you’ve sat in a modern ES version, you’ll be very surprised by the lack of well, everything! Though there’s a lot of the charm to the 2003 ES interior, especially if you are lucky to find one with black leather upholstery with chic genuine “cherry” wood detailing throughout. For those who are more into a light calming color scheme – there was also a remarkably upscale tan version with the same cherry wood detailing. The cabin is roomy and comfortable. All of the controls are conveniently placed and made with scrupulous precision. Another fun fact for you: in 2003 you would have spent just two hundred short of 5 000 for a leather interior with the amazing Mark Levinson audio with CD changer and voice-activated navigation system. Just for a reference: today you can buy the ES 300 for that amount of cash. This model also comes with a sunroof. 

Performance

The Lexus ES 300 is powered by the 3.0-liters V-6 engine with 210 hp and 220 pound-feet of torque. It is a 5-speed automatic FWD with 25 combined MPG. One of the reviews in 2003 by a well-known Car and Driver editor stated that “a smoother, more comfortable, silkier ride doesn’t exist for anywhere near the price”. And that the “history would indicate it’s probably less likely to break on you than anything else” which, having read that statement 17 years later, we can attest it is 100% true.  

Technology

There are really no expectations tech-wise if you are a tech-savvy driver, just look into buying a newer model. Here you can count on a power outlet and a 2003 navigation system with a CD changer, a CD player and a really good sound system. But, honestly, this isn’t a huge problem, for those keen on buying the ES 300 – just purchase the tech you are missing. Nowadays you can buy a cutting-edge  Car Audio Systems with a spot-on HD screen and a Digital Media Station featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto & Spotify and anything else you might need for somewhere in between 400 to 1000 USD. 

Value

The prices vary depending on the condition and mileage. The average is from 2 000 to 7 000 USD. 

Seats

The 2003 ES is a very accommodating five-seater with  plush and supportive seats. The front seats are power-adjustable with power lumbar. There is more than enough leg and headroom, more so in the front. The hated front seat and soft leather upholstery were both optional for the ES 300. 

Climate control

The ES 300 is equipped with multi-zone AC with controls on the dashboard. One very cool thing about this particular sedan is the coated air-conditioning condenser with a resin and antibacterial agent so the cabin won’t smell. 

Infotainment System

You’ll find a CD player, 6 disc CD changer, radio and a there was optional navigation system available for the ES in 2003. 

Storage and Space

The 300 offers 14,5 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk and you’ll find the available space for personal items satisfactory, though, these days we have way more storage options. 

Comfort

Even though this Lexus has been around for almost two decades, it is still a luxury Lexus sedan with a smooth ride, plush seating, ample space and top level of convenience. 

Seat comfort

All of the seats on the ES 300 are spacious and comfortable. The two seats in the front have a bit  more space available to driver and passenger and they offer more adjustability, better lumbar support and optional heating.

Ride comfort

This model is designed to provide comfort in all regards, the ride is smooth, quiet and overall pleasant, though, there is a bit wallowing and floating that takes away from the overall positive experience. 

Quality

Lexus offers a quiet well-insulated ride that absorbs most of the road anomalies, thus offering a quality ride. 

Safety & Reliability

IIHS Frontal Offset Crash Test Ratings are overwhelmingly good. 

Should I Buy the Lexus ES 300?

It is a solid choice if you are looking for a used upscale sedan. 

How Much Does it cost? 

2 000 – 7 000 USD