Lexus ES300: history and description

The Lexus ES sedan set a value standard in entry-level luxury when it arrived in 1990, and continued to set the pace in its 1992 redesign (when it went from being the ES250 to the ES300). The ES was re-engineered in 1997, received a new powertrain (with the same engine displacement) for model-year 1999, and updated again in 2000; the ES330 appeared afterwards, with the ES350 arriving in 2007 (it is covered separately by

A perennial winner of quality awards from J.D. Power and Associates and "Best Value" awards from Intellichoice, the Lexus ES 300 was given a more sporty appearance in 2000, with a new grill featuring a wider chrome frame and two bars instead of three, with a chrome finish. Designers gave the the front bumper a more "chiseled" design, and the integrated foglamps now used clear lenses. New optional High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights gave greater road lighting and lend the ES 300 a different look in front. Redesigned tail lamps used clear lenses, while an ES 300 badge was put onto the right-side light.

More important, the optional Lexus Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) system, introduced in 1999, was expanded to include the advanced Brake Assist feature in 2000. VSC helps maintain traction under demanding conditions by detecting and helping to correct for wheel slip. Brake Assist interprets a quick, hard push of the brake pedal as emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the brake pedal to activate the anti-lock brake system (ABS), Brake Assist supplements the applied braking pressure.

In 2000, the separate remote lock fob was replaced by an on-key remote button, and new stainless-steel doorsill scuff plates with the Lexus logo were added; additional wood trim surrounding the audio and climate controls augmented the genuine California walnut trim on the center console and doors. New, more-recessed rear-seat headrests improved rearward visibility for the driver, and a lock for the standard trunk pass-through was added; 16 inch alloy wheels with 205/60 tires were made optional. Auto-dimming interior and driver's side rear-view mirrors became standard equipment, and the optional heated seats were given two temperature settings; and the optional driver's power seat memory included the outside mirror settings.

The standard audio system added Automatic Sound Level (ASL), which adjusts volume up or down in response to ambient noise. Specially tinted window and moonroof glass rejected ultraviolet and infrared light to help keep the interior cool on sunny days and to protect interior materials from premature aging, and a dust/particle filter was made part of the leather trim package.

The ES350 advanced the state of the art with the new Lexus 3.5 liter V6, pushing out 272 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque in 2007, while still increasing gas mileage thanks partly to dual variable valve technology (working on both intake and exhaust valves) with variable lift; the system, along with a six-speed automatic transmission, helped the ES350 to get from 0-60 in 6.8 seconds while still getting Camry-like gas mileage (21 city, 30 highway).

Lexus ES 300 performance and brief review (2000)

The aluminum 3.0-liter double-overhead cam V6 engine produced 210 horsepower and 220 lb.-ft of peak torque (about the same as the IS300), allowing for a sprint from 0-60 mph in just 8.3 seconds, good for the time in an automatic-transmission car. Perhaps more important, the engine produced 80 percent of its peak torque - 176 lb.ft. - at a very low 1,600 rpm, which enhanced performance in everyday situations, such as freeway merging or driving up a steep grade with a full load of passengers. Gas mileage is 19 city, 26 highway, rather good for a luxury sedan.

A three-stage variable intake system and a two-way bypass exhaust system optimize breathing and help boost torque in the ES 300 engine. Continuously variable valve timing optimizes valve overlap throughout the engine's speed range and in all operating conditions, eliminating the traditional compromise between low-end torque and high-rpm horsepower. The Lexus VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing - intelligent) system also helps to optimize fuel efficiency, and it helps to reduce emissions to the point that the engine does not require exhaust gas recirculation. The ES 300 is certified as a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV).

The electronic four-speed automatic transmission provides an outstanding balance of smooth shifting and quick response to make best use of the engine's torque curve. The transmission avoids unnecessary upshifting and downshifting to create a smooth ride.

The ES 300 is completely silent and still at idle, helping the stereo to sound clear and strong even at low levels. Part of the reason is a solenoid-controlled diaphragm which cancels out the engine's vibration; there is also considerable noise insulation. While the ES 300 does not feel fun and exciting under full acceleration because of this, it does feel remarkably civilized under just about any conditions.

The ride is soft without being wallowy, soaking up imperfections but still transmitting some road feel and not giving up any control; there's no big trick in seeing how Lexus leapfrogged Lincoln and Cadillac, not to mention Mercedes.

High-intensity discharge headlights are optional; they give a blue tint, which hurts other drivers’ vision by scattering the light, but they do provide considerably more light than standard halogens. Tail-lights are now clear, following a fashion trend, and the ignition key includes the remote fob, saving some keyring space. The interior has more of a luxury feel thanks to extra wood trim, new rear seat-rests, automatic-dimming rear view mirrors, and a lock for the trunk pass-through. An optional automatic climate control particle filter is a worthwhile boon not only to people with allergies, but to anyone who drives in a dirty, dusty environment - which is most of us.

Standard features include antilock brakes, automatic climate control, a tool kit and first aid kit, power driver and passenger seats, remote locking, cruise control, and traction control.

Advanced Lexus safety features

The ES 300 helps protect its occupants with an array of safety technology, starting with front and rear energy-managing crumple-zone body construction and a strong passenger compartment. Inside, the ES 300 has three-point seatbelts for all five seating positions as well as dual front airbag and front seat-mounted side airbag Supplemental Restraint Systems. The front seatbelts feature pretensioners, force limiters and height-adjustable anchors. New child restraint seat (CRS) top tether brackets comply with the phase-in of the CRS Anchorage Point Regulation.

Standard safety technology includes electronic traction control (TRAC), anti-lock brakes (ABS) and daytime running lights.

Lexus ES300 construction

While luxurious amenities abound in the ES 300, its luxury "feel" actually starts with a tight unibody structure that integrates extensive measures to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). A construction technique shared with the LS 400 flagship sedan, the ES 300 employs asphalt dampening sheets in the roof, rear quarter panels, floorpan and trunk lining, along with steel-resin-steel sandwich construction in the dashboard, cowl, front floor tunnel and rear wheel housings.

Four-wheel independent suspension mounted in the subframes gives the ES 300 a luxuriously smooth ride and precision, fun-to-drive handling. For an even smoother and more responsive ride, the ES 300 offers an optional Adaptive Variable Suspension system (AVS).

This innovative system - uncommon in this segment - continuously changes each wheel's shock absorber damping rate in response to road surface conditions, vehicle speed, driver steering and braking input and even vertical vehicle movement. AVS also permits the driver to select the desired range of ride character from "sport" to "comfort."

While renowned for the smoothness of its engines, Lexus found a way to eliminate even the smallest vibrations in the ES 300. An industry-first active engine mount uses a solenoid-controlled diaphragm to produce pulses equal-but-opposite to those of the engine, canceling out vibration with every power stroke.

ES-300 luxury features

 Lexus ES specifications and such

PERFORMANCE (Toyota figures)

2000 2007

 0-60 mph acceleration, seconds



 1/4 mile acceleration, seconds



 Top track speed, mph



 Redline/maximum rpm





2000 2007




 Overall Length



 Overall Width



 Overall Height (Unloaded)



 Tread Width









 Minimum Running Ground  Clearance (in.)



 Coefficient of Drag (CD)







 Seating Capacity



 Headroom Front





















 Shoulder Room









 Hip Room









 EPA Passenger Volume (cu. ft.)



 EPA Trunk/Cargo Index (cu.  ft.)









Four cam, 24-valve 60 degree V6


3.0 liter (2995cc)/ 183 cu. in.

 Bore x Stroke (mm/in.)

87.5 x 83 / 3.44 x 3.27

 Compression Ratio


 Horsepower (SAE)

210 hp @ 5800 rpm

 Torque (SAE)

220 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

 Oil Capacity (liters/qts.,  without oil filter)

4.7 L / 5.0 qts.

 Oil Type

SG 5W-30

 Cooling System Capacity  (liters/qts.)

9.2 L / 9.7 qts.

EPA Ratings (mpg)




Recommended Fuel

87 Octane Unleaded  (91 octane for high performance)

Tank Capacity (liters/gal.)

70 L / 18.5 gal.

Alternator (ampere)


 Battery capacity (ampere hour)


 Starter (kW)



Front engine/front-wheel drive (FF)


4-speed electronically controlled automatic (ECT)



 Gear Ratios:












 Final Drive






Engine speed-sensing power-assisted rack and pinion

 Overall Steering Ratio


 Turning Circle (ft.)


 Turns, Lock to Lock


Curb Weight (lbs.)


 Shipping Weight (lbs.)


 Weight Distribution, F/R (%)



Four wheel independent MacPherson strut-type suspension


MacPherson struts, ball joint type stabilizer bars, L-shaped lower arm, anti-dive geometry and suspension subframe


MacPherson struts, ball joint type stabilizer bars, dual links, suspension subframe and liquid filled strut mounts


Four wheel power assisted, front ventilated/solid rear disc brakes with anti-lock brake system (ABS)

 Front disc diameter (in.)


 Rear disc diameter (in.)


 Anti-lock Braking System

4 sensor, 4 channel

 Parking Brake


 Wheel size (in.)

15x6 JJ; Optional 16x6 JJ


Aluminum alloy

 Tire Size

205/65 R15 V-rated; Optional 205/60 R16 V-rated

 Summer Tire

Goodyear Eagle GA radials or Bridgestone Potenza RE88 (note: 16" summer tire not available)

 All Season Tire (opt.)

205/65 R15 V-rated, Michelin MXV4 or Dunlop SP Sport 4000; Optional 205/60 R16 V-rated, Bridgestone Potenza RE92 or Michelin MXV4

 Spare Tire/Wheel

Full size on steel wheel


  Also see: Lexus ES 350

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