I recently purchased a 2011 with Mark Levinson and panoramic roof. It took me a year to find the right color with Ultra Luxury at the right price. I would probably have been happy with the base stereo in retrospect, but the Levinson is far superior and sounds incredible with good sources. The flips side is that it can point out how bad a bad source is. The other benefit to the Ultra Luxury package, for me being a big and tall guy, is the driver seat thigh extension. As minimal as it is, it makes the seat that much more comfortable for me. Without it, and with most Toyota/Lexus products without it, the seat bottom feels too short and uncomfortable for me.
I agree with Poqman and would recommend a 2010+, not just for the USB. It's also a mid-cycle refresh which includes updates and tweaks that may not have been done to a previously owned older car. That said, the 2007-09s are solid and there are aftermarket technologies that can be installed for USB capability. I would think that at this point a 2007 would have shown a transmission problem by now and been fixed. But I would get it thoroughly checked by a Lexus mechanic and get a print out of the Lexus maintenance history. Maybe try to work the numbers to include a cushion for a transmission replacement should one be required.
I think the panoramic roof might allow a little more wind and road noise than the base model moonroof. It also has more moving parts so more to go wrong, but for a 6yr model run, there are few reports of trouble.
The only issue I have with the panoramic roof is being able to clean all of the drains and there just being more area to clean underneath and more gaskets to take care of. There are 2 drains that run on the inside underneath the glass to the rear and meet up with the outer side drain at the rear corners, but I can't find a way to snake them. So, should it ever get clogged, my fear is that water would build up and slosh around or forward and in the winter, possibly freezing affecting the seals. But, there are few if any reports of problems, so I'm not too worried. Just something I'll keep an eye out for and be sure to regularly clean.
I considered the Maxima, 2010 M35 (for it's 7 speed transmission and better mpg over the m45) and Avalon/Camry as well. If the 2011-12 Avalon had fit in my garage, I might have purchased one. But, it is a boat. It is close if not equal in features and ride to the ES. Great car, albeit not the prettiest. For me, the 2011 Camry seat wasn't very comfortable and the interior was just too cheap to enjoy. As far as the Maxima and M45, they both require premium gas and they don't get as good of gas mileage as the Toyota/Lexus offerings. That put them off of my shopping list.
Good luck with your search!
Last edited by BC93; 08-17-14 at 03:41 PM.