Car Corner
1995 Lexus ES 300

August 1, 2012
By Scott Lewis

Last month I bought my son his first car. It is a 1995 Lexus ES 300. The color is called Diamond White Pearl. I really like it. More so than any other color I have seen on a Lexus of this vintage.

This car had just under 120K miles when we bought it... and had just over 120K by the time we reached home. For a 1995 car that means about 7,068 miles per year. This car was clearly very well maintained.

However there are a couple of issues.

- The brakes shutter a bit. I believe this is due to a rotor that is not true (flat). A simple brake job that includes having the rotors "cut" will take care of this. However, I expect I will just buy new rotors and pads and do a break job that way.

- There was a vibration when you reached about 60 mph. This was from a tire out of balance. I took the car to Discount Tire and had the tires balanced. It rides much smoother now.

- The headlights are a bit dull. This is not much of a problem. I have already shown that I can bring a set of headlights back to a new luster. I also plan to get brighter halogen bulbs for the car to improve the lighting over new.

It is a little weird driving this car. For starters... it is the quietest car I think I have ever driving. Yes, even more so than the 2007 BMW 335i I had. Next, it is a step back in time. Not a lot... but enough to be unusual.

For instance, there is one touch down on the driver's window only. No one touch up. Also, there are no controls on the steering wheel for the stereo. It also has a trunk mounted CD Changer. Wow, these are all things that were in my 1993 Camaro. See what I mean.

Road tests from the day put this car with its 188 hp 3.0 liter V-6 at 8.3 seconds. Not bad for a first car for my son. It moves along just fine. I never worry about running (and out running) traffic. Braking is a bit soft. But this is not a sports car... it is a luxury car.

The EPA put this car at 19/25 mpg when it was new. In relaxed driving, we have been getting about 21 mpg overall. Nothing to write home about, but perfectly in line with what the car was meant to do... 17 years ago.

This car is the Anti-MINI. The Lexus does well everything my 2004 Mini Cooper doesn't (smooth, quiet ride) and my Mini Cooper does everything this car doesn't (crisp response to steering and braking). What a difference.

Overall I really like the car. It is in such good condition that I can take it to the monthly Cars and Coffee car shows and find some newer Luxii to park next to. And it holds its own.

My son really likes it too. I am glad he is excited about it. This way he will get as much driving time in between now and when he gets his license.

I hope he takes good care of it so that I can keep it for the long term when Lexus become classics. This car only has 8 years to go to reach classic status (if you follow the mindset that a car 25 years old qualifies as a classic).