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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 Sat, Sep 22, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

VIVA LAS LEXUS By Tommy Grafman

It's been two years since my last road trip to Las Vegas, and it is time again. After some stressful months of work, I need to get away. Yes, flying works, but getting to the airport two hours early and standing in line and going through security and then the body cavity search (long story... the TSA have no sense of humor) really isn't my idea of relaxing. So, it is drive time. And the thought of a nice relaxing drive with my wife Susie by my side, enjoying the time together, decompressing from the stressful everyday hustle is just what I need. And this road trip is going to be done in style, with the Lexus ES 350.

Some people say the Lexus ES 350 is a spruced-up Toyota Camry, but I beg to differ. The Lexus is a beautifully crafted car, in-and-out. It works well for small hops to the store as well as long trips. It has a great balance between beauty and power. The ES 350 has the "it" factor. This car gets the looks, it commands respect, and has sex appeal. It's a perfect combination of sport and luxury car. The journey again starts in my hometown of Burbank, California. With the car parked in my driveway, I'm already getting compliments from my neighbors on how great the car looks. This is an ego car, it makes you look good just standing next to it. A nice tag line will be "Lexus, you look better with us." The slick lines provide the car with an "in-motion" look. The interior is a beautiful mix of vented, perforated leather seats and wood grain dash and appointments. The seats are perfect for So Cal driving. With the hot weather outside, you are totally comfortable without sticking to the seats. The seats are pumping cool air against you for those hot days, or heat for the chillier times.

The elegance of the ES 350 is complimented by its power. It is armed with a 3.5-liter 272 horsepower, four cam, 24-valve V8 engine that provides you with the ability to accelerate onto the freeway with total ease. You can also take advantage of the power with the six-speed automatic transmission that incorporates a sequential shift manual mode. The ES 350 cuts like a knife through traffic. The amazing handling is responsive at any speed. The car also sports 17-inch aluminum alloy, seven-spoke wheels with four-wheel power assisted disc brakes. The drive out of L.A. is like leaving the problems behind you with this car. Once the traffic clears on the freeway near the 134-210 interchange, a weight is lifted. At cruising speed, Susie and I both feel relaxed and at ease. The drive to Vegas is timeless in this car. Outside of a stop in Barstow, the drive is quick and very enjoyable. With the built in navigation system, the drive is almost on autopilot. This model also comes with the Mark Levinson premium audio package (MLP). My iPod plugs directly into the audio system via a mini-stereo jack inside the armrest, where there is also a power jack - making perfect placement for the iPod. Once in Las Vegas, the Lexus ES 350 really comes into its element (driving in Vegas is like driving in New York - not for the weak). The agility makes it perfect for driving The Strip. Another little goody the ES 350 comes with is the rear camera (part of the MLP). When you place the car in reverse, the dash screen displays an illuminated rear-view - a great safety feature in dark parking structures.

Another characteristic about the Lexus is the rapid cool time. No matter how hot it is outside (even in the hundreds), with the car sitting in the heat, there is minimum cool down time in the car. Very impressive. One of the adventures we have in Vegas is another LA Car return visit to the Rainbow Bar & Grill. Pulling up to the Rock n' Roll paradise is a perfect homecoming (the last Vegas trip was with a Lexus LS 430). The Rainbow has great food, great fun and going back to the hotel with the Lexus capped the day off perfectly. The return visit back to La La Land is short stopped with a pit stop in Baker, home of the world's largest thermometer and a peculiar little shop called "Alien Fresh Jerky." That's not a spelling mistake. This store is a blast, inside and out. The alien theme is perfect in the middle of nowhere. The store has almost anything made from jerky (even aliens). With free samples, it's hard to leave without purchasing

The drive home is smooth as silk - even when we hit the 134 freeway, bumps and all. The only issue I have: There was not enough time to play with all the gadgets the Lexus ES 350. With gas prices going up, and new cars with better gas mileage seemingly becoming wimpmobile-like gutless wonders, the Lexus LS 350 at 21 city and 30 highway miles per gallon morphs mileage style and economy. SUMMARY JUDGMENT The ES 350 strikes a nice balance between luxury, economy, reliability, and value.

For more information about Lexus products, go to RAINBOW BAR & GRILL 4480 Paradise Road #100, Las Vegas, NV 89118 1-702-898-3525 ALIEN FRESH JERKY 72242 Baker Blvd., Baker, CA 92308 1-877-ALIEN-35 (1-877-254-3635)

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2007 Lexus ES 350 Price: $33.170.00 (base) $40,395.00 (as tested with options) Engine type: 3.5-liter 272 horsepower four-cam, 24-valve V8. Horsepower: 290 hp @ 5,600 rpm Torque: 254 pound-feet at 4,700 rpm EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 21/30 Drive configuration: Front engine/rear wheel drive Transmission type: six-speed automatic with sequential-shift Suspension: four-wheel independent MacPherson Strut-Type suspension with gas pressurized shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: 17-inch aluminum alloy 7-spoke wheels 215/55r17 All season tires Brakes: 4-wheel power assisted ventilated front/solid rear disc brakes Dimensions: Length - 191.1 inches Width - 71.7 Height - 57.1 Curb weight - 3,580

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