1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Elbow Friendly

September 25, 2012

1996 Lexus ES 300

My favorite part about driving our long-term 1996 Lexus ES300 is how easy it is to hang my elbow out the window. This low beltline, combined with the Lexus' thin A-pillars, make for a very open-feel driving experience. It may seem trivial, but in this era of rising beltlines in cars, it's a sense that's getting harder and harder to duplicate. Many cars these days make you feel as though you are riding in a bathtub.

For some, that high-beltline "bathtub" design is actually a desirable feature. Consumers like all that metal surrounding them, said a Cadillac design executive in a 2010 AARP article, "They feel safer, even if that isn't necessarily the case."

In the same article, a Ford safety director pointed out that the high beltline on a 2011 Ford Taurus was one of its most attractive features. Not to me.

Still, some exterior features, such as larger A-pillars, do help strengthen the car in an accident.  The ironic part is that they also reduce visibility.

What do you think of cars with high beltlines?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 149,367 miles

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