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

Special thanks to Lexus Sainte Julie & Groupe Park Avenue for helping us film this episode of TestDrive. For more information about Lexus Sainte Julie please click here: www.parkavenuelexussaintejulie.com/

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

    • Red Acura
      Red Acura

      Just bought a 97’ ES300 with 160k

      Doing the timing belt,valve cover gaskets and spark plugs tomorow

      about 1 month ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Red Acura

      @Red Acura I'm happy to hear that! During our research on these Lexus models it seem that regular maintenance is the key to longevity, not too much can go wrong with them as long as the oil changes are done regularly.

      about 1 month ago
    • Red Acura
      Red Acura In reply to Red Acura

      PRN_TestDrive It drives like a dream now man

      Was sluggish, starting to get bad gas mileage and leaving huge oil puddles in my driveway. The difference is night and day, glad I did it

      It’s actually the same color as the one in the video, I wish I had heated seats for these Midwest winters though 😕

      about 1 month ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Red Acura

      Glad to hear it! Hopefully the repairs went well without any unexpected problems.

      about 1 month ago
    • Arnold
      Arnold

      This car is a beast, nothing comes close in terms of reliability

      about 1 day ago
    • Rai B
      Rai B

      I brought this exact car I love it!! This is such a gem

      about 5 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Rai B

      Glad to hear it! This generation Lexus ES is incredibly reliable, enjoy it!

      about 4 days ago
    • jodeye highroller
      jodeye highroller

      I found one for 4.5k @ 100k mileage. Immaculate condition, is this a good deal?

      about 6 days ago
    • jodeye highroller
      jodeye highroller In reply to jodeye highroller

      PRN_TestDrive I appreciate the reply and video! Thanks

      about 6 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to jodeye highroller

      Based on that limited info it seems like it. We still always recommend having a trusted mechanic look over the vehicle for any issues and the service history can help with purchasing decisions, but as long as the mechanic says it looks good that price sounds really fair!

      about 6 days ago
    • OZ
      OZ

      188kms for 1600 cad bought

      about 19 days ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to OZ

      Awesome deal! You really can't go wrong with this car, especially for that price.

      about 19 days ago
    • MegaDringus
      MegaDringus

      Watched this video because I am going to look at one in great condition, all original, everything stock, even has the Lexus floor mats and first aid kit lmao.. hope it drives well, I’d like to own one! Had the Camry, loved that too, hope this ones as good as the Camry was!

      about 1 month ago
    • MegaDringus
      MegaDringus In reply to MegaDringus

      A KA I bought the es 300 today. Great purchase, I love it!

      about 1 month ago
    • A KA
      A KA In reply to MegaDringus

      I’m in the same spot as you’re. For me it’s between the 99 Lexus ES 300 and an 04 Infiniti G35. They’re both in comparable conditions. Only the fact that the G35 has less mileage on it. Coming from a Camry, I hate to see myself going for the G35.

      about 1 month ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to MegaDringus

      If everything is original I'd definitely jump on it! Often these are well taken care of, but by now things like the radio, floor mats, and even seats have been changed, if the seats wear out people throw on a cheap cover or something. I still recommend this car as a daily driver or first car, you can't get this level of reliability and comfort from anything else!

      about 1 month ago
    • D L
      D L

      I'm looking at a 99 es300 with 130k miles. Guy is asking 1900$. Said water pump and timing belt done at 80k miles. Looking at it tomorrow. What do you think most I should pay is? What else can I ask about it or look for? Thanks.

      about 1 month ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to D L

      We pretty much covered everything you should look for in this video based on our research from owners on various Lexus forums. Price seems about right, up here a clean, well-maintained ES 300 should go for about $3,000. As long as you get it looked over by a trusted mechanic first!

      about 1 month ago
    • Marshal Dunnik
      Marshal Dunnik

      I always find it difficult resisting the temptation to say "Nice Camry!" when I see an ES. But like the Camrys of this era, they are tanks - just tanks with more creature comforts. Many of these cars have reached beater status and are an excellent choice if you're on a strict budget, have a highway commute, need reliability, but don't want to live with a shitbox. Millennial drivers should try to find a Millennium Edition, just because.

      about 1 month ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Marshal Dunnik

      LOL. These really look like Camrys, good think the LS was unique enough for the North American market to give Lexus buyers something over the Toyota crowd. I always notice these when I spot them on the road.

      about 1 month ago
    • Vietkong Fire
      Vietkong Fire

      Bec they are built right from the beginning... Classic look and just elegance...

      about 3 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Vietkong Fire

      One of the best reliable daily drivers you can buy today!

      about 3 months ago
    • Texas Made
      Texas Made

      Might buy one tmrw 100,123 miles for 2 grand good deal? Any suggestions

      about 4 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Texas Made

      Sounds like a great deal! We always recommend having any vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before purchase though, so as long as you can get a solid report from them and any vehicle maintenance history from the seller you should be in business!

      about 4 months ago
    • Darnel W
      Darnel W

      Lexus is king....

      about 4 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Darnel W

      We've got the real King of Lexus coming up this coming Monday!

      about 4 months ago
    • MrETHEX100
      MrETHEX100

      My door panels are two tone leather, you think it was rebuilt.
      I love it. Thx .

      about 5 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to MrETHEX100

      I'm not much of an expert on Lexus models unfortunately, it's possible it was one of the special editions, I know they had the Platinum and Coach editions, might be related to that.

      about 5 months ago
    • MrETHEX100
      MrETHEX100

      I have a not mint Close 95 es 300 just replaced the labels, my wood around locks no storage tray 🤔
      Needs paint but i love it oh doors have storage compartments , also the seats incredible good Lumbar real lumbar. Tan leather burgundy,
      Only one ever see in all of NYC
      97-01 i see not any 95s great torque starting to have hesitation going up these 75-95 degree hills.
      Anything else rare about or to look for someone owed me 2500 gave to me 174k. That’s
      a good deal I’m pretty sure.
      I’d like to know after getting for essentially 1500 in other words what’s reasonable cap to stop tires Pirelli new. Factory gold label which I don’t know should i hook it up tastefully ..,.!nice curves, size.of body honest to God i look at all new cars plastic fancy digital dash=trash
      Car look like a pinball machine
      Goofy ,... Prodigy many many golden era legends K.Murray this was out first whip.
      Peace my man did the burgundy and creme 2 tone paint with a creme rag in Summee burgundy Nov-April.
      Thx Peace

      about 5 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to MrETHEX100

      Can't beat these cars, we'd still love to pick one up if we needed a reliable daily driver!

      about 5 months ago
    • Gulpin deez nuts
      Gulpin deez nuts

      My dad had one. I remember him worrying about the car when he got the check engine light at 221k miles. Few days later the car broke down. It sat for 3 months until he tried to start it but it was gone forever.

      about 5 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Gulpin deez nuts

      That's a pretty low mileage for it to be written off for a CEL, did he ever pull the codes with a scanner to see what the problem was? From the comments we've gotten since filming this episode it seems that the Lexus ES models only break down if they get in an accident or get damaged in another way.

      about 5 months ago
    • Carlos Moran
      Carlos Moran

      Im looking to get a 1997 with 58k miles clean title 2500$ should i get it?

      about 5 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Carlos Moran

      Sounds like a great deal! Check out some of the comments that have been left on our episode, a lot of owners have replied to report on their ES' reliability. At that price and mileage you should jump on it!

      about 5 months ago
    • brs rafal
      brs rafal

      its a better version of a v6 camry great carsimple comfy no extra electornic f got plenty pick up i wish they made em new now at discount like this

      about 5 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to brs rafal

      This generation Lexus ES is one of our top picks for a reliable, elegant, daily driver. You really can't go wrong with one of these!

      about 5 months ago
    • Marc Milton-Talbot
      Marc Milton-Talbot

      Interesting info about the motors.I was looking at the next generation one from a deceased estate,low mileage,but maybe I'll go for this model without the VVTI.I think that they have a chain instead of a belt because that later model is an interference engine.[I understand Toyota puts belts on their non interference and chains on their inteference engines]This model is similar to my present Camry which is good.

      about 5 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Marc Milton-Talbot

      I think I've read about that also. We get comments on this car about once a week, usually from owners and so far the comments have been very positive in terms of reliability.

      about 5 months ago
    • Nicolaas Van de Houten
      Nicolaas Van de Houten

      Ahh. I love my 99 ES300. I bought it at 132k miles in mint condition and dealer serviced its whole life and I'm at 186k now. The interior still looks like brand new, but the exterior paint has started to blemish and peel a bit. This is also the car where I started to learn how to work on my own car and it has been quite the enjoyable learning adventure. Great cars for self-repair. I have a newer Pioneer LCD screen with USB/bluetooth/microphone and rear-view camera, so it feels really modern inside. A lot of people can't believe my car is this old. They definitely feel really nice and smooth on the road. My friend with a young Honda Fit was saying my car felt smoother on the road than his newer car and he was confused.

      I plan to keep self maintaining, which just gets easier and easier as I do it. Perhaps it can be one of those million mile Lexus cars someday!

      about 6 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Nicolaas Van de Houten

      Thanks for sharing, we love hearing stories like this! We find we get a lot of positive comments from owners about this generation Lexus ES, reliability and ride are the two top things that stand out. Glad to hear you plan on keeping it! It’s got a little ways to go to get to a million but if there’s a car out there that can do it, it’s a Lexus ES!

      about 6 months ago
    • Miguel Alvarez
      Miguel Alvarez

      All i hear is and and and and and and

      about 6 months ago
    • Miguel Alvarez
      Miguel Alvarez In reply to Miguel Alvarez

      You got me 😂

      about 6 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Miguel Alvarez

      All I hear is complaining about a video that was free for you to watch.

      about 6 months ago
    • Nathan Wells
      Nathan Wells

      I'm one of the few still looking for this type of car, I currently have a 2005 Rav4 S as a first car. Currently doing a stereo system install on it to see how it's like to have a real good sound system. For about $1,700. Although I probably won't get this car till like next year most likely. Too busy on my current audio system that I plan to transfer to the ES-300 after I get it done in my Rav4. 5 things I love about this car. #1. Large interior (Good for me as I'm a big guy), #2. Large Trunk (Great for my dual 12 subwoofers & some luggage or other gear), #3. Good gas mileage (I do a lot of combined highway & city driving mostly highway though but on quiet a few occasions I do a bit of city driving), #4. Outstanding reliability (Which is a must for me), & finally #5. A easily upgrade able stereo system as (I like to tinker with stereo equipment a LOT) so a car like this that's easy to work on and fairly straightforward on how to get to things is great! You can't say that for some cars especially when it comes to doing repairs yourself.


      P.S. I forgot to say this as well, from what a friend told me about Japanese cars specifically Toyota & Hondas. CHEAP PARTS! Lmao!

      about 6 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Nathan Wells

      I wouldn't say you're part of a few! There's still interest in these cars, not as much as something like a BMW 528i or Mercedes E 320 but you won't find something this old that's as reliable! One day we need to buy a car to leave behind when picking up the press cars, something like this ES 300 would be perfect, but I could never leave something as nice as this at a street-side parking spot in Montreal.

      about 6 months ago
    • hellaflush49
      hellaflush49

      Man I had one with 280k before I crashed it smh drove like new

      about 6 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to hellaflush49

      I bet it did! These cars seem to last forever and still drive as well as they did when they were new.

      about 6 months ago
    • Joe M
      Joe M

      This is a good option for a beater car...

      about 6 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Joe M

      Or even a reliable daily driver, if it's already in rough shape then use it as a beater, but the clean examples out there should definitely be kept in good shape!

      about 6 months ago
    • Ira Toles
      Ira Toles

      i have 2 2000 and 2001...im sticking with Lexus!

      about 6 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Ira Toles

      Can't go wrong! These are some of the best daily drivers you can buy today!

      about 6 months ago
    • 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 7 months 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 7 months 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 7 months 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 7 months 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 7 months ago
    • Gatsby
      Gatsby

      Just got one with 79K miles for $2K

      about 7 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Gatsby

      Outstanding deal!

      about 7 months ago
    • Zoe Fountain
      Zoe Fountain

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

      about 7 months ago
    • Zoe Fountain
      Zoe Fountain In reply to Zoe Fountain

      @Frank talkless yes.
      1999

      about 5 months ago
    • Frank talkless
      Frank talkless In reply to Zoe Fountain

      Zoe Fountain what year, do you still have it for sale?

      about 5 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to Zoe Fountain

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

      about 7 months 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 7 months ago
    • tsongkhapa lama
      tsongkhapa lama In reply to tsongkhapa lama

      @Chino Emmanuel Egede no, thats why u buy ES from grand mother

      about 5 months ago
    • Chino Emmanuel Egede
      Chino Emmanuel Egede In reply to tsongkhapa lama

      50k? You kidding right

      about 5 months ago
    • PRN_TestDrive
      PRN_TestDrive In reply to tsongkhapa lama

      We're glad to hear that!

      about 7 months 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 7 months ago
    • Michael Stone
      Michael Stone In reply to Evans Morales

      I’m about to trade an Xterra for one of these that has 200k miles. Is still reliable at that point?

      about 2 months 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 7 months ago
    • Mario Torrez Quant
      Mario Torrez Quant

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

      about 9 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 9 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 10 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 10 months ago