2000 was about the time Toyota quality started falling like a brick. Since the Lexus ES-300 is simply a Camry with ten grand tacked onto the price, I'm not surprised you encountered problems.
As for really reliable cars, our 58-year-old Pontiac and 33-year-old Buick were/are excellent examples. The Buick was sold several years back with 275,000+ miles and never a repair. We still have the Pontiac, and it is going strong on its 3rd 100,000 miles.
We never had a Japanese or German car last over 100,000 miles, so we don't buy anything from non-domestic car makers any more.
We've heard this "Import cars have fallen in quality" since XXX date for years. Funny, seeing as how we actually do own a number of Toyota and Hondas in our family that are well past this supposed mystical date where quality supposedly dropped.
Of those, as of now 2 of these have well past 150,000 miles already, and so far no problems to date. Surprise, surprise. They're the same as they were before, and what's more, EVERY single Toyota or Honda we have ever owned - along with those owned by other family members or friends, have not only run for 100's of thousands of miles with hardly an issue, but they did so, regardless of age. So I'm not buying any of these arguments - especially from those claiming they never owned an import that never made it past 100,000 miles.
We have had a couple imports in our family, which have many problems before the 100k mark. Believe what you want, and I'll believe what I know and have experienced.
I get a feeling I could come back to a site like these, and the same comments would be here:
'I had an "Import" and it lasted 20,000 miles and the wheels fell off, but my Grandpappy owned a "Domestic" and he never changed the oil in it, and it ran for 700,000 miles.'
Again - I really don't buy such arguments. Mainly because I grew up in the rural South. A lot of the folks I grew up around frowned upon the fact that we drove Toyotas. They would make up all sorts of stuff, all in the name of trying to badmouth what we drove. They would NEVER in a million years admit that the cars or trucks they drove were often crap, even if they happened to spend countless weekends working on them after they broke down for the umpteenth time. So yeah, I am totally familiar and aware of that exact same attitude - that no matter what, "foreign" cars are bad, and domestic cars are always good and better, just because they aren't imported.
These arguments don't have a thing to do with actual mechanical or quality merits. It's just one of those old import versus domestic arguments, where reality doesn't get in the way.
It's not a claim, it's not a surprise, and it's not a myth; it's the truth. Toyota quality has indeed gone south, starting in the late 90's.
As a mechanic for many years, I can say there are far more problems and repairs on Toyota models today than there were in the 80's, when they started to earn popularity. Back then, torn CV boots, oil leaks, and an occasional starter or alternator were common repairs. Today, and the past decade and a half, it's transmission, engine sludge, electrical, computer and air conditioning repairs that are becoming more common, along with cheaper interior and exterior materials.
This is a problem that just about every auto manufacturer is suffering these days.
Again - believe what you want, and I'll believe what I know and have experienced.
I work on cars too, and no, I am not seeing any decline in quality that is being claimed. We own a wide range of Toyotas, and have owned them since the early 80's. If anything, the quality has gone UP.
I own a mid 90's Tacoma. The truck now has well north of 250,000 miles. If you knew nothing about styling and vintages, the average person would think the truck was only a few years old. There is hardly any wear on anything, and it runs just like it did the day it drove off the dealer lot.
In those years so far, I have had to replace the starter motor, the clutch and a throttle position sensor. On top of that, it's super-easy to work on, with everything laid out in such a way where you can actually access stuff without having to put it on a lift. That isn't the case for example - My brother's old Ranger, which was a nightmare to work on. For example it had EIGHT plugs for a 4 cylinder engine, and the plugs were impossible to get at. It also had ridiculously outdated 1950's style brakes, using wedge pins that loved to rust solid.
But the bottom line is this. Out of the Toyotas we have owned, ALL of them have been extremely reliable cars and trucks. The list follows:
'85 Camry: 213,000 miles
'92 Camry: 220,000 miles
'88 4Runner: 165,000 miles
'96 Tacoma: 250,000 miles
'98 Avalon: 310,000 miles
'02 Prius: 148,000 miles
'02 Tundra: 260,000 miles.
We still own the Tundra, Prius, and Tacoma. The rest were sold with those miles, and were still running just fine. So people can claim that Toyotas are bad or whatnot. But I'll believe it when we actually DO have a bad Toyota, which so far has yet to happen.
When we moved to our affluent suburb in the late 80's, I befriended an old mechanic who did some work on one of my classic Mopars. He was preparing to retire, and told me that he really struggled until Toyota, Honda and Nissan became popular in the area. He said that all those makes required so many repairs, that he had become wealthy and able to retire due to the huge income he got from repairing them. He laughed at the myth that was widely spread that Japanese cars were so "reliable". He loved imports, because he got rich fixing them every other week. The imports we owned pretty much proved him right. They were all lemons.
"outdated 1950's style brakes using wedge pins that loved to rust solid"
Disc brakes were not even an option in the 1950's, and when using the proper caliper grease (Sil Glyde) on these Ford style calipers, the pins will never rust or seize.
This is the MOST reliable car ever made!!
I have 97 Lexus purchased in Jan 2011 with 114000 miles.
Till now it's running very good with no problems.
As far as I know, this is the only car that got the maximum good reviews.
If a car is abused, it will give problems later on, no matter how reliable the model is.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Two identical models of cars can be manufactured on the same day, in the same plant, using the exact same parts and assembly crew. One will be a great and reliable car, and one will be a piece of crap. It is essentially unknown why this is the case. Some manufacturers have better averages when it comes to reliability, but sometimes it is just the luck of the draw. Which is why you have people on both sides, import or domestic, who own cars they love and swear by. And why some people, having import or domestic cars, despise their cars. Both sides are telling the truth based on their own experience. It's only when someone translates their itsy-bitsy experience with one car, out of hundreds of thousands or even millions of identical cars, into a generalization about how all imports or domestics are garbage.
All this mileage, your cars clearly have seen mostly highway driving. That's the easiest on a vehicle. It's better just not throwing numbers like that to make others feel they've found the perfect car. In normal usage, ANY car with 100,000 miles on the clock will start requiring more and more repairs. At 200,000 miles the engine might still be running, but the rest of the vehicle is already ready for the scrap yard.
I don't know where all your magic comes from. We have owned Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans purchased new. At 100000 miles we saw timing belts, water pumps, heater cores, front end work, power window and even sunroof motor failures. And the biggest was air conditioner failures. Maybe you buy stripper models with wind up windows and no air conditioners. Imports are supposedly cheap on gas, but repairs are where they catch up on you. It's high. I switched to Fords.
At least your problems didn't occur until 100,000. With my RAV-4 the fun started at around 40,000 miles. I traded it for a Nissan Murano and never looked back.
The problems he listed aren't wear and tear items that are based on mileage. I agree with him that it should have been reasonable to expect better quality. Plus, the mileage wasn't really that high on the car (remember, this is km not miles). Maybe some rust due to the age and a rattle here or there, but it should be solid otherwise if it were made well.