1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: The Racer's Choice

November 13, 2012

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Drove the ES 300 to Buttonwillow Raceway Park for the annual Mazdaspeed competition, in which Mazda awards a season in the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup to an amateur racer.

It was 300 miles there and back, and the Lexus made the long pull up the six-percent grade in the Grapevine pretty effortlessly to the top of Tejon Pass at 4,100 feet.

I took it easy on the car by not putting a heavy load on the engine with large throttle inputs, yet the car still cruised up the hill at 70 mph without a problem. No crawling up the pass in the slow lane with the trucks.

You'd think that there would be some shame associated with bringing an old used car to the race track, but instead the racers got the idea of this car right away. Any real racer spends all his money on his race car, so his street car is usually something that qualifies as simple transportation.

In fact, one Mazda guy said, "Hey, I did the same thing.  Got an old 1980s Mazda MX-6 for $1,800.  Still running, and maybe the smartest car purchase I ever made."

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Emunds.com @ 151,451 miles

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