1 Oct 2001
Attempt number three for the ES 300 once again was a Camry-based (Mk5) car – and once again most critics came away distinctly unimpressed.
With its bulbous bodywork and salubrious cabin, there was no doubt that Lexus was serious about wooing luxury-segment types that were easily swayed by gadgets and such.
Dimensionally the ES grew in every direction, gained around 100kg, but had to make do with a modified version of the MCV20R’s 3.0 V6 – now offering 158kW and 299Nm and sporting variable-valve timing.
And again super-soft ride qualities ruled the front-wheel drive ES’ dynamics, resulting in roly poly cornering and a distinct lack of handling finesse.
Equipment levels increased, with stability control, side and curtain airbags, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a sunroof, powered and heated front seats and many more items included in the single-model only ES. It really did become a mini LS in there.
A minor facelift in August ’04 resulted in slight trim and equipment revisions, but by the end of 2005 the ES’ time had come in Australia, with the revamped GS and IS models squeezing out the only real disappointment in the Lexus passenger car line-up.