The 2002 Lexus ES300 is a midsize sport luxury sedan that shares a number of traits with the flagship LS430 and a build platform with parent company Toyota’s Camry. It competes with some heavyweights of the luxury sport segment and manages to be a best-seller as Lexus out-sells BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and other luxury makers. Buyers in this class should not make a final purchase decision without checking out the ES300 unless said buyers are die-hard devotees to another luxury builder.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 3.0-liter V-6
Lexus has introduced a completely redesigned ES300 for 2002. This redesigned version is roomier and quieter than previous models, and in many ways is now more similar to the LS430 flagship model. Safety and feature standards have been increased, and it's wrapped in a sleek new body.
The 2002 Lexus ES300 midsize luxury sedan is available in only base level trim. It does come standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, power glass sunroof, intermittent wipers, rear defogger, power door mirrors, heated door mirrors, stainless steel exhaust with chrome tailpipe finish plus a MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension. It's outfitted similarly to the flagship LS430 on the outside and doesn’t leave much left to want. There are options, including Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and the Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) system. Both of these groups of features are designed to improve handling, safety, and ride quality.
The 2002 Lexus ES300 offers a lot in the way of comfort, luxury, and quality. The materials and build quality is top notch and there is space for five passengers in an interior that was increased in the recent redesign. Standard equipment includes automatic dual-zone climate control, one-touch up/down power windows, a premium stereo with CD and cassette players, and a HomeLink programmable garage door opener along with leather and wood trim and more power and adjustable goods. A power rear sunshade, seat/mirror memory system, and DVD-based navigation system with a three-position tilt screen are optional as are adjustable brake and accelerator pedals.
Performance & Handling
The 2002 Lexus ES300 uses a 3.0-liter, V6 engine producing 210 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. It is now certified as an ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) and features a new five-speed automatic transmission that Lexus bills as ""intelligent."" No word if that means the gearbox can do quadratic equations, but shifting is rather smooth, although the shifts downward for passing at midrange speeds tend to hesitate, and the zigzag shifter pattern can be a challenge when making manual shifts. This Lexus is only available as a front-wheel drive. The ES300 runs the zero-to-60-mph sprint in about 8.2 seconds and should be enough to handle most traffic situations.
The 2002 Lexus ES300's handling is best described as competent. It isn’t as agile as competitors like the BMW3 Series or Acura TL, but it takes corners well enough. The steering could stand to be more communicative and the grip is ok or excellent, depending on whether or not buyers opt for the antiskid package that adds traction control and antiskid control. The ride quality sets the standard in this class. Oddly, the optional Adaptive Variable Suspension can be too soft or hard, depending on the setting and in the middle mode feels like standard chassis. Being a Lexus, it also sets in class standards for quietness and cabin serenity.
The 2002 Lexus ES300 comes with an impressive list of standard safety equipment that includes dual front impact airbags, front and rear head airbags, dual front side-mounted airbags, child seat anchors, remote anti-theft alarm system, all-wheel four channel anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and electronic brake force distribution, rear door child safety locks, auto delay off headlamps, dusk sensing headlamps, rear center three-point belt and stability control. The airbags are advanced variable-force airbags that use sensors to determine the force needed to deploy the front airbags in an effort to reduce the chance of airbag-related injuries. Front seats and rear outboard seats are equipped with seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters. Traction control and vehicle skid control are optional. In NHTSA tests, it earned five out of five stars for driver, passenger, and side impact front safety as well as four stars for side impact rear and rollover safety. In IIHS testing, it receives the highest rating of ""good"" for frontal offset crash safety.
EPA Fuel Economy
Lexus ES300: 18/27 mpg city/highway
- Ride quality
- Build quality
- Quiet cabin
- Interior material quality
You Won't Like
- Rear visibility
- Navigation system controls
- Most desirable features optional and pricey
One of the best choices in its class.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Acura TL
- Lincoln LS
- BMW 3-Series
- Infiniti I35
- Chrysler 300M