1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Terminal Transportation

July 03, 2012

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The Lexus ES300 is a big hit on my street. Guys walk over to look at it. It's the perfect car to drive down to the docks, they say.

That's because where I live everyone works down at the port and loads and unloads containers. And you need some kind of car to get you the two miles or so. You don't need much, because the docks aren't far and some truck hauling a container is bound to back into your car and leave a dent sooner or later.

You go down there to the docks and there are lots of interesting transportation choices parked outside the container terminals. Saw a Chevy Corvair and a Ford Maverick, neither exactly a collectible. Plenty of Chevy Blazers, a Pontiac Aztek, the odd Toyota Prius, and also I saw a 1990s Mercedes-Benz SL.

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In this crowd, the Lexus is a kind of crossover, something nice in which to drink coffee for that first 15 minutes or so on a cold morning, but not so nice that you would care if you came back and it had been rumpled a little. No matter what you could always keep it parked in front of the house without feeling ashamed.

In my town, you get noticed when you drive a car like this. Drove by some girl flipping an advertising sign on a street corner -- one of those summer jobs that students get -- and she gave the Lexus a long, long look. Probably she was probably wishing that she had a boyfriend who drove such a car, since it would mean that he had a job.

In working-class town like mine, this old Lexus is actually a sign of wealth -- or employment, at least.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 146,155 miles

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