TURNING HEADS IN YAMHILL
The new 2013 Lexus ES
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Tue, Jul 3, 2012
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Reed Berry Where is Yamhill, you ask? Well, if you were to ask the nearly 900 residents of this Mayberry-like town, they will tell you that it’s situated in a rather rural but picturesque part of Oregon, about 40 miles from a larger city you may have heard of named Portland. Today, residents of Yamhill, as well as those passing through, are getting their first look at the stylish new 2013 Lexus ES 350 as well as Lexus’ impressive new ES hybrid version, the ES 300h. The ES 350 that I’m driving is truly a head-turner in this small town. I feel as though I’m living a television commercial. You know, one of those car commercials in which a new car passes through a small town and everyone looks up from pumping gas…or gossiping with their neighbor…or walking down the road with their fishing pole to take notice. That’s the kind of attention I’m getting during today’s enjoyable scenic drive that takes me from Newburg (at the tip of Oregon’s wine country) through a number of small towns, including Yamhill, and back. The attention certainly seems justified, as the new Lexus ES models for 2013 are sporty and exceptionally stylish. It seems as though, particularly in the last few years, auto makers are trying to counter a sluggish economy by offering feature-packed vehicles designed to attract new customers as well as to impress customers loyal to the brand. The new Lexus ES models are no exception. Once you get past the attractive exterior, you are treated to a smorgasbord of comfort, convenience and performance features.
The introduction of these vehicles marks the sixth generation of this popular luxury sedan, since its introduction in the late 1980s. Part of the redesign includes a longer wheelbase that results in a noticeable increase in interior roominess. Suspension changes, increased body rigidity and a quicker steering gear ratio deliver more precise handling. A lower, sportier body design clearly shows a focus on attracting younger car buyers to the Lexus brand. The exterior is both sporty and distinctive, with 17-inch alloy wheels (18-inch wheels are an available option on the ES 350), wrap-around LED tail lights and a shark fin antenna. The spindle grille design bearing a large Lexus logo gives the front end a bold look, further enhanced by halogen headlights accented with LED daytime running lights. Both vehicles have integrated fog lamps. The ES 350 features a seamless tip dual exhaust, while the ES 300h has a hidden exhaust. A power moonroof is standard on both vehicles; a panoramic glass roof is available as part of the ES 350 Ultra Luxury Package. Making my way to the interior of the vehicle, I am pleased but not surprised to be treated to a sensory experience of interesting textures, quality materials and a sleek cockpit design that is certainly easy on the eyes. The ES comes standard with NuLuxe leather-look seating surfaces, although genuine leather is available. Interior trim colors and materials include piano black, rich espresso maple and, in the ES 300h, bamboo.
The interior features intricate stitching throughout and, according to information provided at a press briefing just prior to today’s drive, the attention to detail is the result of ‘Takumi’ (master craftsmanship) skills. Apparently, becoming a skilled takumi craftsman can take several years. Clearly it is time well spent as the superior craftsmanship is apparent in the high level of quality in the interior of the new ES models. Another feature that adds a touch of class to an already striking interior is the ambient lighting that illuminates certain areas on the passenger side as well as the area below the front and rear door trim. Ambient lighting is available for the instrument panel, front door trim and rear door trim. I have seen this type of subtle ambient lighting used in the interior of other vehicles and not only does it look impressive, it seems to have a rather soothing effect, as well. The standard Lexus eight speaker sound system consists of AM / FM and an integrated Sirius XM Satellite Radio receiver, USB and iPod connectivity and an in-dash CD player. I suggest the available (and powerful) 835-watt 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with an eight-inch display, HD Radio, DVD audio/video and a Sirius XM Satellite Radio receiver. Another option worth consideration is the HDD navigation system that includes voice command and an integrated back-up camera with eight-inch screen, as well as a one-year subscription to Lexus Enform with App Suite, providing connectivity with a number of web-based information and entertainment sites.
As for power, neither vehicle is lacking. The ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter 268-horsepower V6. Paired with a six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission, the car delivers impressive, enthusiastic performance and smooth shifts as I negotiate Oregon’s scenic rural roads. The ES 300h is the first ES hybrid so, needless to say, you will enjoy outstanding fuel economy (40 city / 39 hwy) and, in today’s ecologically-conscious society, you will drive relatively guilt-free without sacrificing too much power. The ES 300h is powered by a 2.5-liter 156-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Both models feature a drive mode selector. For everyday driving you may wish to use ‘Normal’ mode but, if you want to maximize your fuel economy, you may want to switch to ‘Eco’ mode. For increased performance and responsiveness, switch to ‘Sport’ mode. While I don’t really feel much a difference between Normal and Eco modes, I can certainly feel the difference when I switch to Sport. The car stiffens up a bit, handles exceptionally well and corners with ease. The ES 300h also has an ‘EV’ mode which allows battery-only driving on short-distance drives at low speeds. While there are a number of standard safety features on the ES, ranging from a variety of airbags to front seats designed to lessen whiplash injuries, you’ll have to come out-of-pocket to maximize your safety with some of the optional features, such as a blind spot monitor, a lane departure alert system and a pre-collision system that uses radar to detect obstructions ahead.
Overall, I think Lexus has done an admirable job of making some stylish changes and improvements to the ES without compromising the integrity of one of its most popular vehicles. Only question now is…who will be the first in Yamhill to own one? For more information about Lexus products, go to www.lexus.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicles: 2013 Lexus ES 350 / ES 300h Price ES 350: starting at $36,100 ES 300h Hybrid: starting at $38,850 EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (City/Highway): ES 350: 21 / 31 ES 300h: 40 / 39 Engine type: ES 350: 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 ES 300h: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve in-line 4-cylinder
Horsepower: ES 350: 268 @ 6,200 rpm ES 300h: 156 @ 5,700 rpm Torque: ES 350: 248 @ 4,700 rpm ES 300h: 156 @ 4,500 rpm Transmission type: ES 350: 6-speed automatic, electronically controlled ES 300h: Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission Steering: Electric rack and pinion Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut-type independent suspension Rear: Dual-link MacPherson strut-type independent suspension Brakes: Type: Four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with ABS Front: 11.6-inch ventilated disc Rear: 11.0-inch solid disc Wheels: 17” aluminum alloy wheels Dimensions Wheelbase: 111.0 inches Overall length: 192.7 inches Overall width: 71.7 inches Overall height: 57.1 inches Acceleration: ES 350: 0-60 mph 7.1 seconds ES 300h: 0-60 mph 8.1 seconds