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Discussion Starter #1
I've had Toyotas (Tercels, a Camry/Corolla, and a couple of Corollas) since I was a young adult. I always thought that Lexus was out of my league (I need a basic daily driver). However, I'm also looking for more longevity in my cars, especially components.

A YouTuber named Your Car Angel turned me on to Lexus, particularly the ES series, due to his belief that it was the most reliable Toyota/Lexus brand. He showcased an ES 300 with 596k miles, original oxygen sensor and catalytic converter.

I'm looking for a reliable 4 cylinder, 4 or 6 speed transmission with dipstick, that is fairly comfortable that someone with intermediate mechanical skills can work on. I don't want electronic assist suspension.

What models and years do you recommend and not recommend?

What tips and traps can you point out about those models?

For example, do the Lexus engines have the issues that Camrys did, eg piston oil control rings and bad head bolt threads leading to head gasket failure (happened to my next door neighbor last month)?
 

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Camry Freak
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Any problem that a Toyota engine had is likely going to have similar concerns with that engine's application in a Lexus vehicle.

You need to be a lot more specific about things like your price range before anyone can really give you a reasonable response.

You said that you want a Lexus with a 4 cylinder engine- that really limits the possibilities, as Lexus hasn't put too many 4 cylinder engines into its cars over the last thirty years. I believe that the IS has a base-model 4 cylinder engine. Other than that, the only other options would be the hybrid ES from 2013-current or the CT model which was very unpopular and likely not what you're looking for. If you were interested in the hybrid ES, it has the exact same engine/transmission as the Avalon Hybrid, which has the same combo as the Camry Hybrid. It's a solid setup that most consider to be extremely reliable. That said, many people worry about the long-term expenses with owning any hybrid. (As an FYI, my wife's 2007 Camry Hybrid has been rock-solid for us over the last thirteen years and 180,000 miles)

If you want a reliable ES, which is only available with a V6, I'd look into the 2005-2012 ES 330 and ES350 without a lot of electronic options. The V6 engines on those cars are usually extremely reliable as are the transmissions and most other parts. You can find decent examples of ES350 models from 2008-2009 for under $10,000 and you should be able to find one with a reasonable amount of miles that's been well maintained at that price point.

If your budget is a bit higher, I'd look into a lower-mileage 2012 ES- the last year of the previous generation. I just looked on Autotrader and found a decent 2012 model with 63,000 miles for about $13,000.

I'd avoid the 2013+ years unless your budget is a lot higher. They have the same engine, but there are a lot more electronics in those cars that could end up being expensive to fix down the road. As far as I've heard those cars are just as reliable, but who knows just how long all of the modern safety electronics that they put into modern cars will truly last?

If your budget is a bit lower, you could search for a well-kept 1998-2001 model with the 3.0L V6. The engines in those cars are pretty reliable- but the older you go, the higher the risk of other issues that just pop up in any car that's 20+ years old. Even better, most mechanics have experience with those engines- as the same engine was used in the V6 Camrys of that generation. Most of the mechanical parts are interchangeable as well.

I'd have any used car that you're seriously considering fully inspected by a mechanic that you trust- just as a precaution. Lexus makes a good car- they always have- but no car can escape the problems of neglect and abuse. Paying $150 to have a trusted mechanic give it a really good inspection is good insurance against potential problems down the road. It also can be used as a bargaining tool if any issues pop up.

Good luck!
 

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I think something to keep in mind is timing belt motors vs the motors without them. I have Toyota and Lexus with timing belts and also without. Hate having to change them it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks. I like the idea of the RX300 having space to transport furniture and groceries.

My concern is that the tires for the RX300 are almost twice as much as the ES300.
 
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