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History of the Lexus ES Model

Updated on May 13, 2012

The Lexus ES

History of the Lexus ES Model. Lexus created their 'ES' series shortly after their initial inception in the automotive world as Japan's premium automotive brand back in the late 1980s. The first ES series that appeared on the scene was the ES250 (The number 250 implies that it had a 2.5 liter V6 engine, today; the current 2010 model year ES350 to imply that it has a 3.5 liter V6 engine), and it became an instant hit! Both Lexus and Infiniti have always named their vehicles using letters, and in doing so following a tradition initially started by fine European automobiles. Most people back in the late 80's and early 90's, couldn't afford the 'LS' series (LS 400) which was a whopping $40,000+ then (today there are LS models costing $120,000 +...). The ES made it possible for an individual to be able to afford a Lexus with Toyota capital. (Lexus' parent company) In 1991, a fully loaded ES250 was approximately $24,000. -Steep for 1990, but not steep for a Lexus. Today, if you load up a new ES350 with all of the bells and whistles, you’ll likely hit the $50,000 mark - “times, they are a changing”

ES 250 from 1989 to 1991 - 2.5 V6 engine
This was the first generation Lexus ES. It was a big deal, because, no one imagined a Japanese car costing more than $20,000 (Nissan Maximas, which were the most upscale Japanese vehicles back in 1989, didn’t cost what this small Lexus did). As stated in the first paragraph of this article, a fully loaded ES 250, would have hit the $24,000 dollar mark. I drove one back in those days, and I can tell you that I was impressed by this little car. It was serene and handled great, but then, you wouldn’t expect less from a Lexus.

ES 300 from 1991 to 1993 - 3.0 V6 engine
This vehicle was groundbreaking for Lexus. Not only was it considerably better looking than its predecessor, but larger as well. First time that Toyota started getting serious. The Camry (ES has always been based on the Camry...) that this vehicle emulated was itself considerably above par from other similar style Japanese automobiles. This Lexus was also a few thousand dollars more than its previous ES250 model.

ES 300 from 1993 to 1996 - 3.0 V6 engine
Not much else in this model, except it did offer a “coach edition.”

ES 300 from 1996 to 1999 - 3.0 V6 engine
This was the first ES model that looked like Europe had something to worry about, in my persona opinion. The lines and paint of this model were above par in every way. It was a real smooth looking automobile and a preview of things to come. BMW and Mercedes started to get nervous after this model Lexus. Furthermore, by this time now, this model fully loaded, would have easily hit the $40,000 + mark.

ES 300 from 1999 to 2001 3.0 V6 engine
Not much of a change in this vehicle. By this time, Lexus ES models were as common as rain.

ES 300 from 2001 to 2003 3.0 V6 engine
No big change from the previous models, however, by now the ES was not Lexus’ entry model autobile anymore. The IS became Lexus’ entry model vehicle.

ES 330 from 2003 to 2006 3.3 V6 engine
The engine size increase to 3.3, making it more powerful, as well as more expensive. By this time the price of a fully loaded ES330 was close up there with BMW and Mercedes. The one edge which Lexus has always had against its competition is reliability and that’s something its competition was not able to say back a few years ago.

ES350 from 2006 to 2009 3.5 V6 engine
Increase in engine size was a big step up for the ES. It now produced 272 HP, and that was starting to scare its competition even more.

ES350 from 2009 to 2012 3.5 V6 engine
This is the current model ES, which will be replaced by a new model soon. As I stated in the beginning of this article, this model fully loaded hits the $50,000 + mark. This is hardly the ES250 anymore, but a fully fledged luxury vehicle.

Final thoughts:
What can be said about the Lexus ES350 that hasn't already been said. Although this vehicle has been constantly under attack by car critics and connoisseurs, few people will disagree when it comes to the car's impeccable reputation for reliability. Lexus has taken a great deal of pride in making sure their vehicles are very well made, something that neither Audi or BMW can say, although the Audi's and BMW's of today have improved somewhat on reliability, they still fall short to Lexus' impeccable record. The ES350 is handsome, powerful, spacious, and above all-, relatively affordable! And, unlike an Audi or a BMW, you can park a brand new ES350 in your driveway for around $42,000, and this is where the ES is difficult - if not down right impossible to beat.


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    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Derdriu, and thank you so much for visiting this somewhat obscure hub of mine! I truly appreciated!

      Thanks again!

      Your friend,


    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      John, What an entertaining but highly informative and practical summary of the life and times of the Lexus ES! In particular, I like how you go through the models in chronological order and show how cutting-edge each is in terms of what the driver gets for the money. My favorite remains the 250. But me too, I appreciate the 300 of '96-99. Additionally, I like how you bring everything together in your analytical, summary final thoughts.

      Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing, Derdriu