1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: The World's Best Commute Car

September 19, 2012

1996 Lexus ES 300

After a long weekend with the Lexus ES 300, I put the key down on Mike Schmidt?s desk and told him, ?This is the world?s best commute car.?

And it totally is.

1996 Lexus ES 300

Easy to slide into and out of the driver seat.  A driving position that?s big enough to spread out and an expansive view through the windshield. Accelerates smoothly if not quickly, and the transmission is meant to enhance the whole smoothness thing with unobtrusive shifts and a relaxed (and probably imperfectly efficient) calibration for the engagement of the torque convertor, predictable brakes, soft suspension rates, and steady and deliberate driving dynamics.

I never once thought twice about it. Not when I drove it to the grocery store. Not when I climbed a 2,000-foot ridge on a narrow 3-mile road to visit a friend?s house, nor when I braked the car though the two dozen corners on the way down again. Not when I accelerated into freeway commute traffic, not when I jumped on the brakes in freeway commute traffic.  And not when I drove 70 miles on the San Diego Freeway with the a/c blasting at full force (it did pretty well for a car of this vintage, really), on a day when the dashboard readout for the outside temperature registered 102 deg F.

In fact, I never had to think about the car at all. This is a testament both to the inherent goodness of the car as a piece of transportation technology and also to its present state of repair, when all major issues have been addressed and its service needs have been optimized.

This might be just a cheap used car. But when I?m driving it, I never think of it as cheap or used. To have so much for an investment of so little makes this Lexus ES 300 the most perfect device for a day in Los Angeles commute traffic that I can think of.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 149,208 miles.

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