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Lexus ES 300/ES 330



  • cfazzaricfazzari Posts: 77
    You guys are scaring the crap out of me! I was at the auto show last night (Twice this week...loved it). I'm looking for 1) Performance 2) Styling 3) Comfort in that order. I just ASSUMED Lexus would have it all. I'm a little disappointed by the interior - it appears to be a bit bland. But I'm still of the biased opinion that when I'm ready to buy Lexus will simply be the best performer - it would be my first and only import. I'd like to hear from some defenders of this model PLEASE.
  • fredvhfredvh Posts: 854
    You definitely need to look and try out the Toyota Camry. It really does drive as nice as the ES330 and it is just as quiet too. Consumer Reports even went as far as to say that the Camry actually outscored the ES330 overall. There is no doubt that the ES330 is a real nice car but it does cost you a considerable amount.
  • bikegalbikegal Posts: 50
    I had both a Camry and now the 2005 ES. I would not trade the ES for a Camry.

    I loved my Camry but the Lexus is a step up in many aspects. It is smoother, quicker and loaded with creature comforts like leather heated/cooled seats, moonroof, real wood accents, HID, rear shade, 6 disc CD changer and a four year warranty.

    Found the dealership to be much better, too. My car came with summer tires, a fact I didn't realize until the day I picked up my car. The dealer gave me five of the newest Michelins THREE WEEKS later at no charge when I asked for them. Just stamped the paperwork "goodwill." Would Toyota do that? Maybe, maybe not.

    I have 4,000 miles on my car as of today. Initially I felt some hesitation when driving 1-5 miles. But it wasn't consistent. I don't have the 1-2 second lag/hesitation some folks do when merging, accelerating, passing.

    I would recommend the car.

    Good luck.
  • cfazzaricfazzari Posts: 77
    One thing I may not have mentioned here in this forum - the car I buy will need to be very tough and durable. I do NOT stress a car unnecessarily but I DO run the car over some of the toughest roads in the Northeastern U.S. My 1999 dodge Intrepid has 146,000 Miles on it and while the drivetrain is superb (and original) the suspension system on the car is taking a beating - it's gotten mushy on rough roads even though I've spent quite a bit on replacing the front end components.
    My question to Camry and ES 330 Owners - How do you think your cars will hold up to a 6-Foot 230 Pound guy behind the wheel, all types of weather and washboard roads?
  • turnbowmturnbowm Posts: 76

    Yeah, it's hard to believe that Lexus screwed up such a good car. A new ES330 with the styling and driveability of the wife's 98 ES300 would have been a no-brainer for me.

    I was also impressed with the BMW "driving experience" and should be getting my new 2005 530i next week. Hope you enjoy yours.

  • Back in Nov, I purchased a 2005 ES and posted all my particulars here. Basically, the $35,709 msrp version...loaded except Nav/ML.
    I have been reading about the reported hesitation/transmission problems, and thought that I had been spared. However, today I took it in for the 5k service and had a 2004 ES loaner. I found the loaner to be much smoother than my car, in terms of smooth up and downshifting and a more responsive throttle. When I picked up my car, I mentioned this to the service writer and inquired about why this may be so (different size tires, etc?). He told me that last night(4/1) at 5pm, a new TSB came in with some kind of re-program for the "intelligent" transmission on the 2005...erase the memory, drive normal, whatever. I had the service dept do this fix right then, rather than wait until the 10k service. Took about 2 hours, and I immediately noticed that my car is now much smoother and more responsive...just like the loaner. I have only driven about 15 miles since the fix, but so far so good. Interesting thing, I would not have known that my car had the issue had I not driven the loaner. I guess ignorance is bliss.
    The problem may be that since the car learns "your " driving behavior, it may be picking up bad habits when driving in stop and go traffic (the story of my life...about 1 hour per day on Capitol Beltway in DC area).
    I hope the fix holds. I guess we'll see. Thought this story may be of interest to some of you. No, it's not an April Fool's joke, unless the dealer's story about the TSB was one on me.
  • future1future1 Posts: 103
    "He told me that last night(4/1) at 5pm, a new TSB came in with some kind of re-program for the "intelligent" transmission on the 2005...erase the memory, drive normal, whatever."

    Can you provide more specifics about this fix? The throttle delay still bother me in my 2005 ES330, and I really don't want to get used to it. Is there some number or name assigned to this TSB?
  • The writer told me it was a brand new TSB for the 2005. I believe he said it would erase the "memory" of the "intelligent" transmission (which he added he thought was too smart for its own good), and allow it to re-learn my driving habits. He said to drive as I normally would after the erasure. He also said that in the past (for 2003 something like this was done) some owners said it solved the issue, others said it did not. For me, I definitely noticed a difference in the throttle response and shifting pattern immediately...I guess the the transmission characteristics are on the ground floor as of this point, and it will now go about "learning" my driving behavior and incorporating it as we go along. My plan is to introduce an aggressive style, since an aggressive style of driving usually implies quick throttle response and upshift points at higher RPMs. We'll see how that goes. That's all I know. Don't know the name or number of this TSB.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    You can look up TSBs here by going to the home page of, then to the Tips & Advice tab, and then to the Maintenance Costs link, which you will see directly beneath the tabs. If you want more detail, you can then go to our Technical Service Bulletins discussion and ask 0patience and alcan to look it up for you.
  • fredvhfredvh Posts: 854
    Pat, I looked it up as you described but it lists that there is no TSB for the 2005 ES330.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Okay, go ahead and drop by that discussion I linked and see if they know of one.
  • Out of curiosity, I checked the NHTSA website and no TSB is listed for the 2005 ES. Either the TSB is so new (service writer told me it hit the dealership Friday 4/1 at 1700) that it hasn't been posted yet, or in fact it was some kind of April Fool's joke and there is no TSB, but they can erase the transmission memory somehow, and that's what's causing the different throttle/transmission characteristics. Either way, it's still very smooth today with no degradation from when I first got it back Saturday afternoon.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    You may want to check whether there was a TSB issued around Aug - Sept 2003 on the 2002 and 2003 ES300 transmissions.

    At that time, Lexus sent a letter to 2002 and 2003 owners offering them a temporary firmware fix. (Check out the Sept 2003 discussions on the "ES300 Transmission Problem" thread.)

    My service rep told me that Lexus was going to see whether it improved things prior to deciding whether to implement it in new vehicles. The service rep told me that the temporary fix improved things at the lower stop-and-go speeds, but negatively impacted highway driving. Lexus owners needed to "pick their poison" so to speak. The service told me that once I implemented the fix, I could not go back, so I never implemented it.

    My question has to do with whether Lexus implemented the fixed firmware in their new vehicles. If so, that would explain why there is noticeable difference among vehicles. Case in point is that I am not hearing about the jerky start and stop symptoms in the 2004/2005s, as I did in the 2002/2003s. I am hearing more about highway behavior, which indicates that Lexus put the fix into newer cars.

    Does anyone have the answer to this question? For those 2002/2003 owners who had the fix, does it impact your driving? If so, how?
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    There is a Hesitation discussion at Edmunds (called Engine Hesitation, although all the discussion there is related to the transmission hesitation, not just experienced in the ES300/330, but other models as well):

    "Engine Hesitation (All makes/models)"

    I posed the question there if anyone has heard of the new TSB. I am pretty sure that there is a lag from when a TSB is issued and when it shows up at NHTSA and other websites.
  • rick_prrick_pr Posts: 2

    I've done good research and all bottom up to an excellent car. I for one love mines I have the 2004 es330 and its great in all, its fast but I want more speed, looking for some superchip, no luck yet. Go for it!!! :shades:
  • rick_prrick_pr Posts: 2
    Hi All,

    Any Upgrades out there for the ES330 2004 ECU, like Superchip anything to boost up the HP a little.
  • I have a 2001 ES300, and was wondering if anybody had to replace their lightbulbs. I read in the owner's manual that the low-beam light bulbs were H7, and I tried to replace them with no success.
    Appreciate your help.
  • morehpmorehp Posts: 30
    Well, if by "performance" you mean handling/roadholding, speed... that sort of thing... then I doubt the ES330 is your Lexus. Aside from the SUVs, it is the least sporty vehicle in the Lexus line. Check out the upcoming IS or, as your budget permits, the GS line. We have a 2004 ES330 and while it has many outstanding qualities, high performance is not one of them.

    Comfort, refinement, features/amenities and safety are the car's strongest suits. Along with reliability and durability... I wouldn't have any doubts about the car holding up over the years. Lexus cars are, painting in broad strokes, the best built in the world.

    Styling is of course a personal matter but I think the exterior is not bad (a bit bland and slab-sided) and the interior is gorgeous.

    Also, our '93 Camry endured > 150K miles commuting over some pretty rough midwestern roads. No suspension/front end problems.
  • Friends,

    I have been looking at buying a new car for a long time now. I've looked at Audi A6's, BMW's, Lexus and Toyota Camry. The A6 is a little out of range for me and would have to really squeeze my monthly budget to make that payment even at 2.9% APR. If it had not been for my bro, I would have never looked at LExus ES 330, but now, I am hesitating to make my decision based on the hesitation problem described in the forum. I drove a couple last week and they seemed to have been cruising fine. Can anyone tell me what to look for (in respect to this problem) from the dealer when buying this car? I am trading off by not buying an Audi but buying ES 330 which is a fully loaded CAMRY for a higher price. I guess there is the goodwill and status you always pay price for. Do you guys think it is worth to pay 7K more on ES330? :confuse:
  • bikegalbikegal Posts: 50
    Do you guys think it is worth to pay 7K more on ES330?

    Only you can answer that.

    As to the hesitation, not all of them have it. Some owners say it started soon after leaving the dealership. Do a forum search. Good luck.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    Well, as my favorite CSI character says "Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there."

    I disagree that the hesitation problem does not exist on all vehicles. The problem is a design problem, not a manufacturer's defect, which indicates that the defect is in all vehicles. I do agree that various owners experience the problem differently, and some owners don't perceive the problem at all.

    The safe way to view this is that if some 2005 ES330s have the problem, then they all do. Whether or not a given driver will uncover the symptoms is another issue. Of course, since owners seem to discover the symptoms at different points in the vehicle life cycle, there is no guarantee that you will detect the problem during a test drive.
  • My advice would be to buy some other car. Why take a chance buying a new ES330 that could have the awful transmission hesitation/surge problem that so many of us are experiencing? There are a lot of other great cars out there. For me, the Lexus transmission problem makes the car difficult to control, and the ride is anything but smooth at low speeds, especially in heavy traffic, because of the frequent hesitations/surges.

    I am really disappointed with my 2005 ES330. There is so much that is so right with this car, but the jerky transmission -- and therefore the overall driving experience -- sours the whole thing for me.
  • turnbowmturnbowm Posts: 76
    For me, it was a deal-breaker. If I could have bought a new ES330 with the styling and driveability of my wife's '98 ES300, it would have been a no-brainer! Can't believe how Lexus has screwed up the ES-series.

  • cfazzaricfazzari Posts: 77
    I am certainly disappointed with what I'm reading on this forum. I realize this is a good place to discuss and maybe resolve some issues with some specific autos, but no one I've found in this forum is raving about this car!

    I will not rule out the ES330 because I at least want to test drive it when I'm ready to buy. And I think I'm going to put a checklist of things together first so that each vechile I compare will be judged the same way. As of right now the 2006 Impala SS is my leading candidate, followed by the 06 Grand Prix GXP, followed by the Hemi 300C (2006 Charger is my favorite of all but they know where they can shove their RWD assembly). Of course I'm still expecting Lexus to push all of these others out of the way....we'll just have to see.
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    Why not put the 05 Avalon on your list also ? Judging by all the reviews and the comments on the Avalon forum it seems one hell of a car. 280 Hp plus 31 mpg on the highway.
  • cfazzaricfazzari Posts: 77
    Several people have suggested the Avalon and the Camry. It's just a personal preference...I'm more into cars with a few more bumps and curves - Grand Prix GXP, Dodge Charger, Mustang, Impala SS, Mazda Speed 6....the ES330 only makes the list because it's a $33,000 Lexus....I'm not Ga-Ga over it's appearance.

    I'm sure Avalon and Camry are excellent cars but they are road versions of Meryl Streep...and I like my Pamela Andersons more....
  • jf02fwdjf02fwd Posts: 7
    Earlier you wrote: "My question has to do with whether Lexus implemented the fixed firmware in their new vehicles. If so, that would explain why there is noticeable difference among vehicles. Case in point is that I am not hearing about the jerky start and stop symptoms in the 2004/2005s."

    I think you are on track here. I have an '05 330 with a January build date, and I have spent considerable time trying to verify oradmeddoc's report of an April 1 TSB that fixed his problem. Having not turned up anything on this board or on the TSB tracking Edmund's board, I called my Lexus service manager and he said there is nothing new out there addressing 330 throttle response. Nothing came in on April 1 in this department.

    He said if you have an '04 or '05, the "fix" has already been incorporated. I never drove an earlier model so I can't compare, but the '05 demo I drove before I made my purchase and the car I own now don't seem to have a significant problem. There is a throttle-response issue compared to cars with non-DBW interfaces, but it's not something that ruins my day.

    My service manager speculated that oralmeddoc's computer was simply reprogrammed, and that if his driving style is not sufficiently varied, he will be back where he started before long. He said the demonstrator was driven by different drivers and with different driving styles, causing the computer to avoid settling on a pattern that many would find offensive.

    (Having said that, I don't do the kind of stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper driving that sandiegodriver probably has to contend with, so maybe I have just not encountered a driving situation that would make me want to find the nearest cliff. Would that be La Jolla?)

    To newbuyer3, I agree with bikergal whose own good experience is similar to mine: drive the car for yourself until you are satisfied that you have done all you can to replicate the problems you have read about on this board.

    My wife is the primary driver and for me safety, quality components, performance and styling were all considerations. We were set on the new Avalon until we looked at it in person, drove it, and then drove the 330 for the first time. The Avalon is a fine car as motownusa points out, but it did not have the fit, finish, and stylistic balance of the 330...for us.

    For now, my wife drives the car in her typically laid-back fashion and is oblivious to all of the concerns that other drivers have had. I am more demanding and realize the car could be more responsive, like the cars I have driven all my life. But, hey, this is not the TL we test drove and it never was intended to be. I intend to push the car every time I drive it since the learning effect makes sense to me.

    I wholeheartedly support the continued complaints by those whose cars are not living up to their expectations. Most of us would do no less.

    I will report back my experiences, and I encourage other '05 owners to do the same.
  • Hello,
    If it's any help, the paperwork I got from the service rep lists " tsb for trans op code eg5017/830991 reprogramming trans ecu/ 531 W".for the first week or so after they erased the memory, the smoothness was maintained. However, after that I resumed my normal commute in stop and go Capitol Beltway trafffic, and some of the jerkiness/gear hunting returned within a day or two. It's still better than before the "Fix", but it has degraded somewhat.
    It's still a great car, and I'm not especially displeased with the occasional jerkiness. AS I said at my first post, I hadn't even noticed it until after driving the loaner.
  • barry5barry5 Posts: 49
    I purchased the 330 a month ago. Prior to that I owned a 2001 LS430 Ultra. I needed a car to carry me over till the 2007 LS which is to be AWD and perhaps hybrid. The LS is a great car but bad in snow. I find the 330 good looking, no transmission problems, fast and comfortable. There is no torque steer and the FWD was great in snow. In essence 3,500 miles later I find no problems [except for some wind noise over the A pillars] and am very satisfied.
  • ruby1ruby1 Posts: 8
    I have an 2005 ES 330 that I purchased in August of 2004. I can tell you that I have the same problems that you are referring to in your email. At speeds between 15mph - 25mph, I get a jerking reaction from the car. It feels like the transmission is missing a step between (I'm assuming) first and second gear. This is driving me crazy because of the frequency that it occurs. My car is in the shop right now and they are going to reset it again for the second time to see if this helps the problem. I did notice that my car feels much slower than the "loaner ES 330's" that I've been given. Could this be possible? I don't know anything about engines.
This discussion has been closed.