1996 Lexus ES 300: What More Do You Want?
July 30, 2012
I invited a friend to go hiking with me this weekend but I warned him we would be driving to the mountains in a 1996 Lexus ES 300.
Him: "Can you guarantee that we will get there and back?"
He agreed to "risk it" and came along anyway. So I gave him an assignment.
"What features or qualities does this old car lack, compared to modern cars, that you miss?"
"Well," he answered. "We're probably not going to meet any girls."
I had to admit that he had a point there. Girls, boys or adults of any kind did not express any interest whatsoever in this car. That might be because they didn't notice that it has the gold kit.
But the good old ES did make it 460 miles from Los Angeles to Lone Pine and back without incident. And from Lone Pine (elevation 3,400 feet) it climbed to the Whitney Portal at 8,400 feet. Not once, but twice! The 3.0L V6 had adequate power and the four speed automatic downshifted willingly.
My friend did admit that the ES has a nice big trunk for all our gear. But he's a tall guy and had trouble finding a comfortable seating position. It's hard to say if a modern car would have provided the adjustability needed to ease his pain. I dealt with the situation by telling him his pain was psychosomatic.
On the way home Sunday morning, we were cruising along at 73 mph and the 188 hp engine hardly seemed to be working at all. So I took this video to try to capture the smooth, quiet ride this old timer still provides.
Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 147,038 miles