The Lexus ES300 began life way back in 1991 as a re-bodied Toyota Camry with higher levels of materials and added extras. It was criticised by some as not being a ‘real’ Lexus, though that really didn’t hamper sales the way the purists had predicted.
The ES disappeared from Australia in 2005 because the new generation released that year was built with the steering wheel on the wrong side for us – by far its biggest market was, and still is, the USA.
Late in 2013 a new generation Lexus ES reached us Downunder. This time it was built on its own unique platform. Frontal styling was distinctly Lexus with its aggressive arrow-head spindle grille.
The smooth, near silent ride and high quality finish that had really impressed people since the earliest days of the Lexus LS400 was continued in the ES line. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as supremely smooth as its big brother, but the ES cost considerably less and so appealed to many. There are quite a few on the used car market now, often traded in on a newer model by satisfied owners.
This Lexus ES was offered as pure petrol powered by a 3.5-litre V6, or petrol/electric hybrid with a 2.5-litre Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with nickel-metal-hydride batteries.
Potential Lexus buyers are often tech savvy people and quite a few hybrids have been sold since day one
Pleasant enough to drive and ride in, the ES makes no pretence at being a sports machine. Handling is on the soft side. Interior room is good without being outstanding and you may not be able to transport four tall people without some compromising front to rear.
In August 2015 the ES was given an extensive makeover. Visually it took cues from the company’s L-Finesse design language, with a pinched-waist grille that was widened and slightly higher. New headlamps, daytime running lights and reflectors also created a bolder look.
At the back, sections of the lamp cluster were enlarged and the lower bumper broadened with the boot lid garnish now integrated into the lights and extended to the clear lenses. Sportier looking wheels completed the package.
Perhaps the biggest change is an invisible one, the use of paint that has Lexus’s self-restoring surface which lets the paint’s clear outer coating ‘heal’ itself from minor damage.
This ES had the Lexus Safety System+ which combined a pre-collision system, lane departure warning, automatic high beam lighting and active cruise control.
Over the years the number of Lexus dealerships in Australia has increased significantly. The company began its operations in the major capital cities, but later expanded into larger country cities as well. Senior technicians at Toyota dealerships can carry out work if you’re not in an area serviced directly by Lexus.
It comes as no surprise that we recommend servicing and repairs should be left to professional mechanics.
Insurance premiums are generally moderate, reflecting the type of conservative driver to whom this Lexus appeals.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Having done your own initial checks, we recommend calling in either a Lexus or Toyota specialist or a senior inspector from a motoring association for a final check.
Get a quote for even the most minor faults as these can be expensive at times.
Make sure the engine starts quickly and idles smoothly, indeed, virtually imperceptibly.
Check the automatic transmission operates quietly and smoothly.
If you haven’t driven a hybrid before you’re likely to be surprised the engine doesn’t start when you turn the car on. Instead, the electric motor sits there silently and the car moves off on electric power. The petrol engine kicks in as required.
Feel for steering that is precise in its operation and works smoothly. Listen for unusual noises and look for the slightest sign of anything out of the ordinary.
Expect to pay from $20,000 to $28,000 for a 2013 Lexus ES300h; $22,000 to $31,000 for a 2013 ES350 Luxury; $25,000 to $34,000 for a 2014 ES350 Luxury; $30,000 to $41,000 for a 2014 ES350 Sports Luxury; $33,000 to $44,000 for a 2015 ES350 Luxury; $36,000 to $48,000 for a 2016 ES350 Luxury; $40,000 to $55,000 for a 2016 ES300h Sports Luxury; $44,000 to $58,000 for a 2017 ES350 Sports Luxury.
CAR BUYING TIP
Start doing your research on any used car at least a couple of weeks before you intend to buy. That way you get a feel for the market and can often push through a better deal.