1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Made it to the Atlantic

June 13, 2012

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Eight days ago this 1996 Lexus ES 300 was parked beside the Pacific Ocean. Now, here it is beside the Atlantic, in the small town of Noank, Connecticut. I took the long route so the trip meter is now showing 3,450 miles. I had one mishap -- the car overheated in Detroit due to an earlier faulty repair. Other than that, and a rock chip in the windshield, it's been smooth sailing.

We are doing this project to show that a car with 142,000 miles (and climbing rapidly) is dependable. This probably isn't news to people that know cars and realize how incredibly reliable cars have become. The advent of fuel injection has helped enormously (cars now start in the cold and run more efficiently) and so has onboard computers that monitor various sensors in the fuel and exhaust streams. But since 1996 there have been a lot of creature comforts and new features that this old guy doesn't have.

The feel of this Lexus is vastly different than the new cars. The suspension is so soft it reminds me of my Dad's '65 Chevy wagon, the seats are almost like benches, the storage is poor and the cup holders are almost unusable (small and too close the dashboard). But on the plus side, the visibility is wide open, it's quiet, roomy and comfortable with a Big Gulp trunk. And I'm getting about 29 mpg on the highway. It's not going to carve canyons, so I consider its handling to be a non-issue. Hey, it's a point A to point B car. And as for the gold kit, my Dad thinks it looks sharp.

I really appreciate the comments on the posts about this trip. Some have requested a wrap up when I get back home. I'll certainly pull everything together when I finally get back to Los Angeles which, hopefully, will be in a week and change.

By the way, this picture was taken in the parking lot of Costello's Clam Shack (picture below), a seafood joint right on the dock. Next door is a similar restaurant with a related name. Together the names evoke the memory of a great comedy team from early television. What is the other restaurant called?

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 142,501 miles

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