Why is a 20 year old Lexus so popular in 2017? The XV20 Lexus ES 300 is one of the most reliable mid-size luxury cars made in the 90s. Read our full review: goo.gl/xXPXTJ

Our Spotlight is on this 1999 Lexus ES 300 sedan, which is based on the same platform as the XV20 Toyota Camry, but shares very little with it's down-market brother. We go in-depth with this front-wheel drive luxury car to see what all the controls do, how it drives after almost 20 years, and what you need to know if you're considering one of these cars.

We try to cover all the information about this generation of Lexus ES, including the different special editions such as the Coach Edition, Platinum Series, and Millennium Edition. There were also several options available for this car like Adaptive Variable Suspension, Nakamichi Audio, and other luxuries.

Stay tuned for our episode of TestDrive Showdown where we compare 20 years of Lexus ES innovation with this 1999 ES 300 and a 2018 Lexus ES 350 Touring.

Photo Credits:

Dixon Pai (Flickr, CC) www.flickr.com/photos/dixonpai/
TuRbO_J (Flickr, CC) www.flickr.com/photos/30474136@N07/
'my_name_here' (Flickr, CC) www.flickr.com/photos/10465812@N04/

TestDrive is proudly produced in Acton, Québec, Canada. This video was filmed in Sainte-Julie, Québec at Park Avenue Lexus.

Comments

    • This American
      This American

      My friend bought his ls400 a few months ago for about $4,000 I'm just trying to put a little but in savings each week and hopefully by next tax season use my taxes and get one of these for about $2,800-$3,500 or even a ES-330 in decent condition for a second car. As I just started working my first job a few weeks ago. So hoping by Febraury of next year I could have one of these to eventually replace my Rav4 which if I get the Lexus the Rav4 is going to my Mom because eventually she is going to need a more reliable car compared to her 06 Ford Taurus POS that we're gonna have to rebuild. At least the 2005 Rav4 is supposedly one of the most reliable years for that car.

      about 12 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to This American

      That's one of the reasons why we'd buy one too! These 90s Lexus models are some of the absolute best cars ever made, and so few enthusiasts bother with them you can get them for a lot cheaper than a comparable Mercedes or BMW, and it'll last way longer. You really can't go wrong!

      about 11 days ago
    • This American
      This American In reply to This American

      And with the ES models I'm surprised at how whisper quiet they actually are. Even quieter than my Rav4 haha which is nice. So you can actually have a conversation in the car without hearing the engine too much or even just enjoy your music while on the road.

      about 11 days ago
    • This American
      This American In reply to This American

      +PRN_TestDrive Yep I have a friend in the Naples/Fort Myers area that can help me out, he's found plenty in that area in great condition for $2,800-$3,500. Both the 300 & 330. Hoping I can get one by next year so my Mom can have my Rav4 instead of that POS Ford Taurus we're having to re-build the suspension on for $1,300 it's on it's last leg on almost 200k miles it's an 06 model we've had since 07.

      about 11 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to This American

      We haven't heard anything negative about that generation Rav4, should be pretty solid for a while! These Lexus ES models though are some of the best used cars money can buy, both for reliability but also understated luxury. It's not over-the-top, but has aged well enough that they fit the part. Hopefully you can find a nice one!

      about 11 days ago
    • Gatsby
      Gatsby

      Just got one with 79K miles for $2K

      about 15 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Gatsby

      Outstanding deal!

      about 14 days ago
    • Zoe Fountain
      Zoe Fountain

      I have one, for $3500, with 137,000 miles, and everything works, power, AC, heat, etc everything.

      about 18 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Zoe Fountain

      Great price for it! These are seriously underrated reliable daily drivers.

      about 17 days ago
    • tsongkhapa lama
      tsongkhapa lama

      I recently sold my Hondafit and bought 1999 ES 300 under 50k miles. It drives like driving on cloud, so smooth.

      about 25 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to tsongkhapa lama

      We're glad to hear that!

      about 25 days ago
    • Evans Morales
      Evans Morales

      I have this car. It amazing, reliable and I think it still looks nice. I love my old Lexus :)

      about 1 month ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Evans Morales

      Glad to hear it! This is still one of the best daily drivers you can buy today, if we needed one, this would be our first pick.

      about 1 month ago
    • Mario Torrez Quant
      Mario Torrez Quant

      This was a facelift from the early 90s ES, wich is my favorite ES ever

      about 2 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Mario Torrez Quant

      From 96 to 99 it was the third generation, but to be fair the first three gens all had very similar styling and design language. Still a great looking car in our opinion, we don't see them often out here, but when we do we notice!

      about 2 months ago
    • Oli Freakin Davis
      Oli Freakin Davis

      You guys thing this would make a good first car just need it for driving around for work and possibly to go from LA to Las Vegas or to San Francisco

      about 3 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Oli Freakin Davis

      Absolutely! These ES 300s are some of the most reliable cars money can buy still, especially if the maintenance has been kept up by the previous owner(s).

      about 3 months ago
    • Levai Norbert
      Levai Norbert

      I just bought one yesterday / es300 1997

      about 4 months ago
    • K.Emprezz by nature emprezz
      K.Emprezz by nature emprezz In reply to Levai Norbert

      Levai Norbert just brought one yesterday 142000 miles and got a good price brought it down to 1845 with my trade in can’t wait to drive it

      about 1 month ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Levai Norbert

      I bet it's exciting, hopefully you get to pick up the keys soon!

      about 4 months ago
    • Levai Norbert
      Levai Norbert In reply to Levai Norbert

      +PRN_TestDrive Thanks!! I will be care about it that is for sure. Have to wait to pick it up from the dealer. The car honestly looks new inside outside. I love it. :)))

      about 4 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Levai Norbert

      Congrats! This is still a car we'd have high on our list if we needed a great, reliable daily driver.

      about 4 months ago
    • William Rosen
      William Rosen

      Just bought one for $1200 250k miles

      about 5 months ago
    • Kamal A
      Kamal A In reply to William Rosen

      its barely broken in

      about 1 month ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to William Rosen

      That's a steal!

      about 5 months ago
    • trashy director
      trashy director

      I want one as a first car. This car is what im saving for and my parents said if i work hard i can get one. It is an amazing car.

      about 5 months ago
    • Zoe Fountain
      Zoe Fountain In reply to trashy director

      I have 1 for sale

      about 18 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to trashy director

      Can't think of a better first car, honestly! Great price for what you get out of it, plus the reliability is going to be key.

      about 5 months ago
    • THE HAMMER 87
      THE HAMMER 87

      6:43 😍😍😍

      about 6 months ago
    • —TheManInDboX —
      —TheManInDboX —

      While rare they made this generation with a 5 speed manual..

      Personal note, I think this is my favorite ES Lexus ever made..

      about 6 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to —TheManInDboX —

      It's a solid vehicle! A 5 speed manual would have been interesting, would have been able to compete against the Acura 3.2TL at the time, considering the Acura Vigor had a 5spd and was similar in a lot of ways to the first generation ES.

      about 6 months ago
    • Andrew Nguyen
      Andrew Nguyen

      I've owned my 2001 Lexus ES300 for a little over 3 years now. It had 91,000 miles on the clock and I bought it for only $5,000. A great deal considering what a clean example it is. It is true, the best things about this car is how reliable and smooth it is. 99% of the time when people ride in my car, the first thing they'll comment on is how smooth it drives.

      Lately I've been looking to buy a GS400 or IS350, but I keep hesitating because I know I'll miss this car tremendously.

      about 6 months ago
    • Andrew Nguyen
      Andrew Nguyen In reply to Andrew Nguyen

      I agree and that's one of the reasons why I have a hard time letting go of this car! Oh yes... I found a ultra clean 80,000 miles, and moving up to a V8 is tempting! You're right though, I don't want to get rid of my ES 300 along the way. Thanks for the reply and love your videos! Keep up the great work. :-)

      about 6 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Andrew Nguyen

      $5k is a steal for that mileage! We've spotted a few for sale over the year, with a lot more miles under it, for around the same price (Canadian). If you find a decent GS 400 we'd definitely recommend checking it out, but not if it means you have to give up the ES 300. They just don't make cars like this anymore, and if you can hold onto one, you should!

      about 6 months ago
    • MegaTechpc
      MegaTechpc

      Good lord, the condition of that car for 217,000 miles is incredible! Oh wait, is that KMs? Still...

      about 7 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to MegaTechpc

      Kilometres yes, but still! Not too bad for a car that most never cared about, we often find this model from Lexus has the potential for the least love and care from owners, which is unfortunate since they’re really nice!

      about 7 months ago
    • FireofFear
      FireofFear

      this was my dad's first car i remember sitting in it when i was 6

      about 7 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to FireofFear

      Very nice! These are still fantastic cars, we're always happy when we see one on the road out here.

      about 7 months ago
    • TotoTitus
      TotoTitus

      I know it's not in the same class, but I own a similar year Honda Civic Coupe, the interior is strikingly similar.

      about 7 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to TotoTitus

      Japanese design was certainly consistent even across the models from this era. Our 1990 Accord had some similarities if you closed your eyes a bit.

      about 7 months ago
    • anto709
      anto709

      I guess mine is ultra rare because it has those adaptive ride suspension.😄

      about 9 months ago
    • anto709
      anto709 In reply to anto709

      However its also hard to find replacement for those adaptive suspension, though mine are still working however needs replacing soon.😔

      about 9 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to anto709

      Definitely should be! We don't think many of these had that optioned.

      about 9 months ago
    • hcalmar
      hcalmar

      Caption says XV 30 not XV 20

      about 10 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to hcalmar

      Good catch, thanks! We’ll change it now.

      about 10 months ago
    • Tha Saw
      Tha Saw

      I'd love to see a vehicle spotlight on the LS430s!

      about 10 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Tha Saw

      We're hoping to make one happen! The third gen LS seems to be a bit harder to find out here, fewer of them are owned by enthusiasts and still with their original owners. It's on our list though!

      about 10 months ago
    • K Holo
      K Holo

      damn this is one of the best reviews literally covered everything necessary this guys cool

      about 11 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to K Holo

      We really appreciate that, thanks! We try to get as much info in as possible while keeping it interesting. We've got some more classics scheduled this month!

      about 11 months ago
    • The hunger has returned. It never really left.
      The hunger has returned. It never really left.

      this car acquits itself nicely but currently driving a mint LS400 this is a bit chintzy. i also test drove an 2008 es350 before buying the 94 LS400 and the LS was far, far better in every way.

      about 1 year ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to The hunger has returned. It never really left.

      That's certainly true, and also applies to a lot of other cars. The E46 3 Series is a nice looking car, but when you drive around in the 7 Series you realize there's a lot more that could be in a car like that. We found the same thing when we drove the LS 400 a few months later.

      about 1 year ago
    • ruzzell907
      ruzzell907

      I really love the shape and design.

      about 1 year ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to ruzzell907

      It's got a good look to it, and still looks modern enough today. One of the few cars that has aged pretty well.

      about 1 year ago
    • michael jackson
      michael jackson

      I had one that ran 486000 km flawlessly and I still sold for the same price that I got it for which is 3500 cad

      about 1 year ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to michael jackson

      Very nice! Can't complain about that, and that's a great price to get considering the mileage.

      about 1 year ago
    • Alex O'Boyle
      Alex O'Boyle

      I want one so bad! I'm only 18 and I'm stuck with my crappy Subaru for the time being but hopefully in the next 6 months I'll have one!

      about 1 year ago
    • VSSKREAM
      VSSKREAM In reply to Alex O'Boyle

      Bro you got AWD and if you live in a place that snows you won't have to worry about the tires slipping.

      Im kinda kicking myself for coming across a fixer upper for pennies and not pulling the trigger because i owned a '97 5speed Camry before but i didnt really want to own the same vehicle twice . There so damn nice

      about 5 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Alex O'Boyle

      These are pretty great cars! But don't feel bad about what you're driving now, I felt the same about my first car, always looking for the next thing. 10 years later I regret that I didn't take better care of it and ended up selling it for spare change.

      about 1 year ago
    • Lukas
      Lukas

      You literally see these every single day multiple times where I live, I don't see any 20 year old Mercedes/BMW models on a regular basis

      about 1 year ago
    • Deldrick Jackson
      Deldrick Jackson In reply to Lukas

      I bought mine $3,000 with 185k on it.

      about 8 months ago
    • Deldrick Jackson
      Deldrick Jackson In reply to Lukas

      jared dixon Well you won’t know unless it’s documented tht it’s been done. With mine i didn’t know and didn’t hvnt documents to prove so i done it to be safe. If you do I’d have it checked and make sure it’s no sludge in the motor. That’s one of the issues with the 1mz-fe V6. Also make sure transmission has been serviced too bc that’s another problem with some Es300

      about 8 months ago
    • jared dixon
      jared dixon In reply to Lukas

      Deldrick Jackson question im looking at purchasing how would i know timing belt needs changed before buying and also whata good mileage for 98 thru 2000 and what would you stay away from?

      about 8 months ago
    • Deldrick Jackson
      Deldrick Jackson In reply to Lukas

      I drive 99 ES 265k. Have had some issues, but nothing major and repair is cheap. I bought with 185k July 13 and I’ve kept oil change and had timing/ water pump changed, knock sensors replaced, tube up, carbon Canister,struts, CV Boots and control arms. It still drives very smooth and i drive it daily for work and personal use. Mine is the exact same color as the one shown. Very well built cars.

      about 9 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Lukas

      We don't see any of the Lexus ES, but we do see plenty of XV20 Camrys on the roads here, and surprisingly most of them seem to be in good shape.

      about 1 year ago
    • Bryan Chance
      Bryan Chance

      Amazing how clean it is..mint condition. Little old lady had it for 20 years? Lol

      about 1 year ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Bryan Chance

      Not sure about the previous owner, but it's possible! The current owner has been working on it but also uses it as a daily driver.

      about 1 year ago
    • Wilmer Jael
      Wilmer Jael

      Awesome!! My 2003 Is available for you whenever you guys come to NYC!

      about 1 year ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Wilmer Jael

      We’ll let you know if we ever make it down there! Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to with this show.

      about 1 year ago
    • Hayk Samvelyan
      Hayk Samvelyan

      Very nice highlight and overview of the ES. Just a heads up, there were a few pictures of the 2nd generation ES when you were speaking about the 3rd Gen. One was about the 2000 MY Refresh and another about the Platinum edition. Keep up the great work and thanks for shouting out CL!

      about 1 year ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Hayk Samvelyan

      Good catch! We had a lot of trouble finding images of the ES in the public domain, I should have looked closer when pulling those images off Flickr. Thanks!

      about 1 year ago
    • BOKA THE SMOKA
      BOKA THE SMOKA

      Do an e60 m5 review!!!

      about 1 year ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to BOKA THE SMOKA

      We've been looking for one to film, but any of them have been put into storage for the winter, we're going to see what we can do come spring!

      about 1 year ago
    • Bart G
      Bart G

      They did have the oil sludge issue which can get serious.
      Edit: noticed you gently mentioned it later in the vid

      about 1 year ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Bart G

      We did! We always leave the 'Buyers Guide' segment for the third part of the video. It seems the sludge issue was taken seriously in the US, but we didn't find any information about it for the Canadian market.

      about 1 year ago